The school bell rang as I finished copying the last spelling word from the board. I stuffed my books into my backpack. Kim, who sits between Eddie and me, left as Eddie rummaged around in his desk. Crumpled papers and books flew all over the floor.
“What are you looking for?” I asked.
“My spelling list for tomorrow’s test. My mom gets mad if I don’t bring it home. She says it’s the only way to keep making As, but it isn’t!”
I wish I always made As. I’m not very good at spelling. Dad helps me study every night, and I’d sure like to give him a 100 percent correct, A+ spelling test for Father’s Day, along with the shaving lotion I got him. He’d like that.
I laid my paper by my backpack and picked up a dirty, torn paper Eddie had stomped on. “Is this what you’re looking for?”
“Yeah. Thanks.” He shoved it into his pocket.
Erasing the board, Miss Clark said, “You boys had better get going.”
I helped Eddie stuff books and papers back into his desk, and we left. He lives next door to me, so we usually walk home together.
“Want to play a video game?” he asked. “Mom bought me a new one.”
“I’d like to,” I said, “but I have to study for the spelling test tomorrow. I don’t make As like you do, no matter how hard I study.”
Eddie looked at me funny. “You sit next to Kim. She always gets 100 percent.”
I wondered what that had to do with anything. “You sit next to her, too.”
He smirked. “Yeah, that’s the point.” He marched in the house and slammed the door.
When I got home I headed into the kitchen and tossed my backpack on the table. “I have some heavy studying to do to get that 100 percent on my spelling test tomorrow,” I said.
“Have a snack first,” Mom said. She placed a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of milk on the table.
“Thanks, Mom.” I gobbled up the sandwich and washed it down with milk, then dug around in my backpack for the spelling list. I couldn’t find it.
I dumped everything in my backpack out on the table. “Mom!” I said. “I can’t find my spelling list.”
Mom searched through the books and leafed through my notebooks. The list wasn’t there. She knew how much I wanted to give Dad a 100 percent correct spelling paper for Father’s Day, so she looked again. No list.
“Where do you remember seeing it last?” she asked.
“I laid it on my desk by my backpack while I helped Eddie find his list. Then Miss Clark said we’d better hurry.”
“Then it’s probably still on your desk. But you can call Eddie and ask him to give you the words.”
On the phone, Eddie started telling me the words, but he said the paper had gotten so dirty and torn that he couldn’t read most of it. “I told you, don’t worry about it,” he said. “You sit next to Kim.”
I hung up the phone. I had something to worry about, all right. I had trouble spelling. What difference did it make to me if Kim was a genius?
I told Mom all the words I could remember, and she wrote them down for me. I tried my best, but I couldn’t think of all of them.
“Don’t worry about it,” Mom said. “Remember, in our family we love each other no matter what. We care about making good choices and doing the best we can.”
When Dad got home, he helped me study. When I could spell all the words I had, he said, “Try to sound out the others. The important thing is to do your best.”
The next day, when time came for the spelling test, I sharpened my pencil and put my pink eraser by my paper. I wanted that 100 percent so much my hand shook.
I knew the first five words. The next one I had to sound out. I glanced past Kim to Eddie, wondering if he was having trouble, too. He was craning his neck, staring at Kim’s paper—cheating! So that’s what Eddie meant about sitting next to Kim! I kept my eyes glued to my own paper, afraid the teacher would think I was cheating, too.
Suddenly Miss Clark swooped behind Eddie. Without a word, she picked up his paper, crumpled it up, and threw it in the wastebasket.
Dad wouldn’t want a paper I had cheated on. He’d be disappointed in me, and I’d feel rotten about myself.
My back hurt from sitting stiffly while I sounded out words, erased them, and sounded them out again until they looked right.
I closed my eyes. “Please, Heavenly Father, help me keep my eyes off Kim’s paper and do the best I can,” I prayed silently.
Miss Clark called out another word. I felt more relaxed and could think more clearly. I finished my test and handed it in.
We got our papers back before the end of class. I covered mine for a minute, afraid to look at my score. Then I saw “100% correct, A+!” written in red ink. I couldn’t wait to get home to show it to Mom.
On the test I wrote, “To the best dad in the world, who helps me with spelling, and teaches me to choose the right and to do the best I can.” Then I put it with the shaving lotion.
I could hardly wait for Father’s Day.