The Part That Counts


Contest Winner

“Good morning!” she practically shouted as she pulled my covers off. I gave her my usual cheerful grunt, then proceeded to let out a long, mournful yawn. Yep! It was morning; I wished it were not. I am not what you would, even casually, call a morning person.

Then there’s my mom. How she ever keeps that smile on her face when she goes to bed so late at night is a mystery to me. Maybe she sleeps with a clotheshanger in her mouth. I’d go bananas if I didn’t get my full 7 1/2 hours of peaceful slumber. I guess Mom’s just used to it. She could go to bed early, but she would rather fold clothes, finish up the dishes, or do something where she can have some time to herself. Believe me, she certainly needs it.

I come from a pretty big family—four brothers, four sisters, and one dog—so Mom doesn’t get much time for breathers. Like this morning for instance. Mom was polishing shoes between pouring and flipping pancakes. She was also going through her purse, looking under cushions, and searching Dad’s pockets looking for lunch money. She ended up writing checks. Then while she was busy ironing a shirt for my brother, I got the chance to complain to her. I politely explained that either she and I would have to go shopping after school or I would have to quit school because I didn’t have anything to wear. I calmly told her I was sick and tired of making my older sister’s bed just so I could wear something of hers. Mom wasn’t much help. All she did was suggest a few strange outfits that I wouldn’t be caught going to the moon in.

As soon as I was through, my sister started whining to Mom. She was upset that Mom had fixed pancakes because she was on a diet. Mom said she didn’t have to eat them, and my sister shot back, “Mothers who care about their children on diets, don’t tempt them with pancakes!”

“Oh brother,” Mom said as she looked at the ceiling.

By now the family had to hurry and eat so there would be time for family prayer. I was right in the middle of a perfectly buttered and jammed pancake when the dog came running through the kitchen.

“Stop the dog! Stop the dog!” my youngest brother yelled. My mom told him to hold on so she could find out what was going on.

“The dog just had a new experience!”

“What are you saying?”

“He threw up on the carpet!”

Mom just groaned and told everybody to hurry and come for prayer. It took five to ten minutes for everybody to kneel down. Then as soon as we had prayer, and a lecture from Dad on turning off the lights, chaos hit our humble home. Everyone claimed they hadn’t had their turn in the bathroom. Nobody could find his schoolbooks. Everyone was going to miss the bus. My sister was wailing because she couldn’t find her navy blue socks. I knew where they were—on my feet. I told her she could wear my white ones. My dramatic younger brother said he had to have a note to excuse him for being sick the day before or he’d be accused of sluffing and classified as a delinquent for life. Mom was trying to help everybody as she reminded us all that she only had two hands. Finally, five good-bye Dad’s, and four good-bye Mom’s were said. (My sister was still mad about the pancakes.)

Well, I never got my turn in the bathroom, so I went to school with seeds from the raspberry jam stuck between my molars. I was sitting in seminary trying to get some of them out with my tongue when my teacher asked, “How many of you here honor your father and mother?” My hand went up like everyone else’s, of course. Then the teacher spent the rest of the class explaining what honor really means.

“Honor,” he said, “to show respect, consideration, courtesy, admiration; to pay attention to, think much of, etc.”

We talked about honor until I felt good and guilty, but I also determined to try harder to honor my parents, especially my mom parent. I think I’ll start by telling them how much I love them. Then comes the part that really counts—showing them.

[illustration] Illustrated by Parry Merkley