I was challenged by Kristian at Life Lessons Around The Dinner Table!
Here’s the post where I was challenged:
Kristian gave her nominees a photo to use for the challenge, and asked us to be as creative as possible and then nominate at least three more bloggers to keep the challenge going.
“The Polka-Dot Umbrella”
I received the polka-dot umbrella, with matching rain boots, for my seventh birthday. I was obsessed with polka-dots for years, and my whole family knew it. It was all I wanted on my clothes, my shoes, and even my room. So far, I’d scored two shirts, an Easter dress, and a fun comforter for my bed. I was already angling for a polka-dot backpack when school started again.
I remember fawning over the American Girl catalog when McKenna was the Girl of the Year, or GOTY, in 2012. I was only three then, and Mom told me I wasn’t quite ready for a doll that cost $115. I circled the umbrella and rain boots a bunch of times, wishing and hoping that American Girl made a girl-sized version. They had a lot of other matching doll-girl things! I was really mad for a while, but learned to enjoy what I had.
It rained the day after my seventh birthday party, and I was so excited. Still hopped up on cake, ice cream, and seeing family, I probably begged Mom twenty times to go outside. She finally relented, but only “when I’d straightened my room and found places for all of my birthday gifts.” I promised to knock out my birthday thank-you notes after playing in the rain, too. That made her smile, and nod. I dashed off to my room. What normally took me an hour, that day it was 20 minutes flat.
Mom stopped doing the dishes, followed me to inspect my room, and then knelt down to me in the hallway.
“Good job, Sarah. I’m impressed. You’re growing up. Seven is a big age, you know.”
“Why’s that, Mom?”
Mom thought for a minute. “Well, you’re starting second grade, and you’re learning new things every day. And, you’ve been such a good help to me with Jackson. I know your dad and I are hard on you sometimes, with straightening your room, and chores, but we’re always proud of you.”
Jackson was my three-year-old brother. He had “special needs” that I didn’t really understand. He could walk with his walker, and was slowly learning to talk. Mom was really worried, a lot, but she always appreciated me helping her. Daddy was really busy with his job, and I heard both of them talking a lot, at night, over “bills” and lots of big numbers and other things. They didn’t yell, but I would hear Mom crying. It made me sad. One time, after Daddy went to bed, I silently went downstairs and just gave Mom a hug. She was at the kitchen table, with papers covering the whole thing. She smiled, wiped her eyes, and whispered, “Thank you, Sarah. I love you. Back to bed, now, okay?”
Mom put a hand on my shoulder. I came back to the real world. “Sarah? Are you okay, honey?”
I hadn’t noticed that my eyes were full of tears. I smiled, put on my brave face, and swallowed the tears. “Yes, Mom. Thank you. I’m happy. I can’t wait to use my new umbrella and rain boots! Polka-dots are so fun!”
Mom straightened and nodded. “Put on your raincoat, too. Okay? You can go up and down the block for a while. I’ll call for you when it’s time to come inside. Got it?”
I nodded, dashing for the hall closet. Jackson was in his play area near the kitchen, where Mom could keep an eye on him. He cooed and laughed as I put on the purple raincoat, perfect polka-dot rain boots, and got my matching umbrella ready.
“Bye, Mom! Bye, Jackson! I love you!”
“I love you, too, Sarah.”
The rain had slackened, but still drizzling. And it was foggy. I was learning about weather, and how something called temperature helped make fog, and snow, and sleet. A few other people were on the sidewalk. Mrs. Perkins was walking her dog, and I saw my babysitter and her boyfriend under another umbrella.
It made me happy. I loved to play in the rain. A lot of my friends didn’t. They didn’t like getting wet, and especially not muddy. Daddy called me a “diva tomboy,” and I always giggled. I loved everything polka-dots, and unicorns, and glitter, but I also loved getting dirty and running around.
I turned right and skipped down the block, trying to stay on the sidewalk. I loved the puddles, but thought about what Mom always said. “Always look both ways for cars, bikes, and people.”
There was one huge puddle near the corner, where I needed to turn around. I looked both ways first. A car zoomed past. I’m glad I waited. Once it was safe, I splashed as hard as I could. I think all the neighbors could hear my squeal of delight.
My jeans were wet, my new boots were really muddy, and I loved it. I felt free. It was hard to feel that way in the house, a lot. Mom and Daddy were busy, Jackson needed a lot of attention, and I was alone. By myself. I felt left out.
Mom didn’t know that I wanted McKenna so badly, the 2012 Girl of the Year, because I wanted a friend to play with at home. Sure, I had friends, but most of them couldn’t come over to play with me because of Jackson. At least, that’s what they’d said at school.
While I was skipping, splashing, and singing, Mom watched me from the window. She finished the dishes, checked on Jackson, and then rummaged through the top shelf of the hall closet. The one place I couldn’t reach.
She smiled, smoothed the polka-dot birthday wrapping paper on the stack of boxes, and sighed. Sarah earned this gift, she thought.
I was still singing “Fight Song” when Mom heard me squeak inside. For once, I put my new polka-dot umbrella in the stand, took off my new polka-dot boots on the rug with the other shoes, and hung up my wet raincoat on the lowest hook of the coat stand. I felt important now that I was seven. I locked the door, and padded down the hall. I said hi to Jackson, who laughed at my wet hair and jeans, and was saying hi to Mom when I spotted the polka-dot wrapping paper.
“Hi, honey. Oh, look, there’s another birthday present. Do you want to open it?”
My eyes were as wide as saucers. I had no clue what it could be.
Mom silently cried as I unwrapped McKenna, beautiful, perfect McKenna, and most of her clothes. The last box held the precious umbrella and rain boots, just like mine. I just stared at the kitchen table for what seemed like a really, really long time.
Mom wiped her tears, and hugged my shoulders. “Happy Birthday, Sarah.”
I was in awe. I couldn’t speak. I think my mouth was a big, wide O shape. “This was the best birthday ever, Mom. Thank you. I love you.”
She sighed, trying not to cry again. “You’re welcome, sweetheart. I hope you enjoy McKenna. I know how much you’ve wanted a doll like her.”
I think I was still in shock. “Can I – take McKenna outside?”
Mom smiled, happy to see her oldest child so thrilled. “As long as both of have your polka-dot umbrellas open and polka-dot rain boots on your feet, yes.”
“Yippee! Thank you!”
The last tears sliding down her cheeks, Mom watched as I carefully put McKenna’s boots on, opened her umbrella, and then re-dressed myself in my raincoat, boots, and bigger umbrella. I carefully shuffled my new umbrella in my left hand, and gingerly carried McKenna under my right arm. “Come on, McKenna, let’s go play in the rain! Do you know the words to “Fight Song”? Let’s sing it together!”
Mom picked up Jackson and held him close as she pointed to me and my new friend. He smiled a big smile, and clapped his hands.
He giggled. “Sarah.”
“Jackson? What did you say?”
“Sarah.” He pointed to the window. “And – doll.”
Mom hugged him. “Oh, Jackson, sweet boy. You’re talking! Yes, that’s Sarah and her new doll! What a smart boy!”
“Sarah. Doll. Happy.”
Mom started crying again, overjoyed. She couldn’t wait to share the good news. I had a new friend, and Jackson was finally talking.
The girl-sized polka-dot boots and umbrella are too small for me now. But, they proudly sit on top of my dresser, right next to McKenna. I don’t “play” with her much any more, but I still have everything from my seventh birthday. It’s one birthday I know I’ll remember forever.
Thank you so much for the nomination, Kristian! I really enjoyed this challenge!
Here is your photo:
Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂