The Helpers


“Do I have to watch Bobby again?” Cindy asked.

“It’s just for a little while, dear. You know how he can get into things. You’re such a good helper.” Mother smiled at Cindy as she went out the apartment door with a basket of laundry in her arms.

Cindy sighed and shut the door. She turned and looked at her baby brother. Bobby banged two blocks together.

“Ah-bah, ah-bah, Mama!” Bobby yelled.

Cindy shook her head. “When are you going to really talk? When are you going to be a helper like me?”

“Me … bah.” Bobby laughed and started climbing up onto the couch.

“Oh no you don’t,” Cindy said as she picked up Bobby and put him on the floor by his toys.

“No, no?” asked Bobby.

“Right. Climbing onto the couch is a no-no. Let’s do something else. We can play Wonder Woman and Superman.”

“Dooper!” Bobby grinned happily.

Cindy ran to her bedroom to get her cape, but she couldn’t find it anywhere.

“I bet you lost it, Bobby. Tell me where you put my cape.”

“Bah-ma. Dooper?” said Bobby.

“I give up,” Cindy said. “If you’d just talk like the rest of us, that would be a big help.”

Cindy went into the bathroom and found two large towels. She tied one loosely around Bobby’s shoulders, then put the other one on herself. Cindy twirled on her toes, letting her cape fly out around her. Then she ran down the hallway. “Wheee!”

“Eeeeh!” Bobby echoed.

Cindy ran around the living room. Bobby ran too. Cindy leaped up and down. Bobby hopped the best that he could in imitation. Cindy jumped over the magazine rack. Bobby tried to do it, too, but he bumped his knee. He screamed. As Cindy turned around to see what had happened, her long cape flew out and hit a potted plant on the windowsill. The pot wobbled back and forth. Bobby stopped screaming. They both stood still and watched helplessly as the pot fell.

Crash!

“Oh, no!” cried Cindy, bending down to look at the mess. There was dirt all over the floor, but the plant didn’t look broken.

“No-no,” Bobby announced.

“It sure is a big no-no! Give me your towel. I’d better put them away and clean up this mess.”

While Cindy was in the bathroom, she heard her mother open the apartment door.

“Bobby!” she exclaimed. “What did you do?”

Cindy went back into the living room. Her mother was pulling Bobby away from the pile of dirt, where he was playing.

“Oh, Cindy,” Mother said, “I wish that you’d watched Bobby a little better.”

Bobby pointed at the floor and said, “No-no!” Then he ran out of the room.

Cindy knew that her mother thought that Bobby had broken the pot. It would be easy not to tell what had really happened. …

“Mom,” Cindy said at last, “I’m sorry.”

“I know, Cindy. It’s not your fault. Please get the dustpan and brush. I think that we can save the plant.”

Cindy didn’t move, even though she wanted to run away.

“Hurry up, dear.” Mother picked up the plant.

“I said that I was sorry,” Cindy said slowly, “because I knocked down the plant.”

“Oh, Cindy!” Mother looked at her and put down the plant. Then she hugged Cindy. “Thank you for telling me what really happened. Now we’ll clean this mess up together. You are a good helper.”

“Mama!” Bobby yelled. He had come back holding the dustpan and brush. He waved the pan in the air and said, “Me do.”

“Oh, Mom,” Cindy exclaimed happily, “Bobby is learning to talk better and to be a helper too.”

[illustration] Illustrated by Pat Hoggan