“Diane, it’s time to pick up your toys,” called Mother. “Tomorrow is Sunday, and I want your room to be as neat and clean as the rest of the house.” Diane sighed and sat in the middle of her cluttered room to start doing what Mother had asked. She wondered why it was more fun to get the toys and books out to play with than to put them away. After putting three books back on the shelf, Diane picked up two little cars and was soon playing with them. She stacked up the wood blocks to create a big garage. How much fun she was having when Mother appeared in the doorway!
“Diane! You haven’t picked up a single toy in all this time.”
“But look at the neat garage I just built, Mom,” she said, pointing to her project.
“Every Saturday we have this problem of you not putting your toys away. You either disappear when the job must be done, or you start playing with them.”
Diane looked at the floor and said, “I wish that they’d just disappear for Sunday and come back the next day.”
“I think that that’s a good idea,” Mother said thoughtfully. “The disappear part, anyway,” she added. “If there are any toys or books that haven’t been picked up by the time I come back to vacuum your room, they will disappear into my safekeeping. But they won’t come back on Monday! If I have to pick them up, I will keep them.”
Diane thought about this and decided to pick up several of her favorite books and toys. A big beach ball, a stuffed dog, other small toys, and the rest of her dolls, cars, and books, were left on the floor.
Mother returned later and sent Diane outside to play while she cleaned. When Diane returned, the room looked neat and clean. All the toys and books on the floor had disappeared.
Diane didn’t think about the vanished toys until Timmy, the boy next door, came on Tuesday and they wanted to play with the beach ball and Diane couldn’t find it. They had to play with some of her blocks, instead.
On Saturday Diane left more toys on the floor, and they disappeared. The next week she really missed her favorite boat when Timmy came over to play in the wading pool with his. Diane’s had disappeared with other toys that she hadn’t put away. With big tears rolling down her cheeks, she turned to her mother. “Mom,” she cried, “I want my boat back. Can’t I have it?”
“I warned you that if you didn’t take better care of your toys, they would vanish,” Mom said gently as she lifted Diane onto her lap and comforted her.
“But I want them, Mom. Please may I have them back? I’ll take care of them and put them away. Honest.”
Mother kissed Diane’s cheek and thought for a moment. “I’ll tell you what we’ll do. Every Saturday when you’ve cleaned up your room, you may choose one of the hidden toys. That way you can earn them back, and maybe you will take better care of them. If you think that that will work, I’ll let you have your little boat now.”
Diane smiled and nodded.
On Saturday Diane couldn’t wait to get her toys put away so that she could choose one of the toys that had disappeared. And each week when she picked one out, it seemed like an old friend coming back to her.