“I’m bored!” sighed Angie. “Why can’t we play a video game?”
Once again Mother patiently explained. “You know that Dad and I talked about it and decided that you were spending too much time playing those things. You need to get outside and use your imagination.”
Angelina had heard all this before, but what was she supposed to do outside? She was reminded of camping last summer. There was no TV, no computer, no video games. It seemed that her parents expected her to play with pinecones or something.
The doorbell rang, and Robin, one of Angie’s third-grade classmates, bounced in. “Angie, they have a new video game at the arcade. I’m dying to try it! Would your mom take us there?”
“I don’t know, Robin. She’s kind of down on video games right now. But maybe if I ask her while you’re here, she’ll say yes.”
The girls found Mom in the backyard. “Mom,” Angie began tentatively, “would you take Robin and me to the video arcade?”
“No, but I’ll take you to the park on Willow Street on my way to the store.”
“No!” yelled Angie. Then she turned in astonishment as she heard Robin yell, “OK!” at the same time. Angie looked at her friend. “You mean you want to go to the park? What would we do? It’s boring!”
“We can be anything we want there,” Robin explained. “Those orange trees have neat rooms underneath their branches. They could be our fort. Or we could be rich ladies in a fancy apartment, or famous veterinarians looking for rare birds to cure. Use your imagination.”
That word again! Angie didn’t think imagination sounded all that great, but the park would be better than being bored at home.
She thought that the park “fort” could have used a TV, but it was kind of fun imagining you were a famous movie star living in a mansion. Now, how did they walk and talk? Angie wasn’t very good at it, so Robin coached her. She was amazed to discover that three hours passed swiftly, and she and Robin laughed all the way home.
The next Saturday, Mother again refused to take them to the video arcade.
“Then let’s go to the park again,” Angie suggested, remembering the fun they’d had the week before.
“We can’t,” Robin told her. “It’s closed for repairs.”
“Oh, fudgits,” Angie whined, flopping down on her bed. “Another boring day.”
“Come on, Angie. Let’s go collect pop cans. Maybe we can make enough money to buy something fun.”
Several hours later the girls returned with their treasures. They hadn’t made enough money to buy the exotic colored birds they’d looked at in the pet store window, but they’d each purchased a goldfish. Now they were hunting for a large glass container to put them in.
“Let’s name them Tweedledum and Tweedledee,” Robin suggested.
“Or Punch and Judy.”
They finally settled on Hansel and Gretel and vowed that their fish would be best friends forever, just as they were.
The following Saturday, Robin went to visit her grandmother. Angie was dreading the day. Mother was still being unreasonable about video-game playing, and the park wouldn’t be any fun alone. Angie shuffled to their new refrigerator. Same old food, she noticed. Then, turning away, she saw something that made her exclaim aloud, “Wow!”
The refrigerator box was still outside by the trash. She could make a playhouse in the backyard, and when Robin returned, they could play lots of games there! They might even decorate it like a real house and put their fish in it. Hey—this imagination stuff isn’t so hard, after all!
Mother gladly helped Angie find a little table, two chairs, and some curtains for the window they cut out. Angie could hardly wait for Robin to come over. They’d have such fun!
Monday was a holiday, and it was bright and sunny. After rushing through breakfast and chores, the girls met to inspect the new playhouse.
“Angie, this is great!” Robin exclaimed, jumping up and down. “I wish I had a doll so we could play house.”
Angie thought for a second. Her dolls were all china and were locked in a glass case. She never played with them. Then she remembered—there was an old doll in the bottom of the toy chest. But she hadn’t played with it in months, and its hair was a mess, and it had no clothes.
“Robin,” Angie began, “I know a poor, starving orphan with no clothes that we can adopt and take care of.” She ran to find the doll.
“What a great idea, Angie!” Robin said. “You’re beginning to have a terrific imagination.”
“Just wait until you hear what this baby will be when she grows up,” Angie went on. “I have it all figured out.”
At that moment Angie’s older brother, Marco, poked his head in the playhouse window. “Hey, Angie, Mom says that she’ll take us to the video arcade. Come on!”
Angie and Robin looked at each other for a moment, then laughed. “No, thanks, Marco.” Angie told him. “We’d rather stay here and sew clothes for the lost princess of Matagambi.”