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aMUSElittleME

Nibbling at her nails ( Grandma said ” it’ll give you worms”) LittleMe stared into the toilet. Before school at her babysitter’s house she’d been gnawing on a button attached to her white cotton sweater watching “Captain Kangaroo” when it popped off and down the hatch it went. Plop. A button in her tummy tum tum. LittleMe panicked and ran up the stairs to the light under the doorway and screamed her babysitter’s name. The door opened and there was Mrs. Dillahay in her curlers and apron. LittleMe blurted out what had happened and a sweet, comforting smile appeared on her babysitter’s face. She took LittleMe down the stairs and sat with her and greeted other children as they arrived. Soon we’d all be sent off to school, down the big grassy hill, passed the clothes line, the hound dog pen, then carefully step on stones and fallen limbs to cross the creek. On and up the trail on the other side we’d climb through tall grass, often wet from early morning dew and enter the doors to Hickman Elementary School. This day LittleMe was anxious. Mrs. Dillahay whispered to LittleMe that after lunch the button she’d swallowed would show up when she pooped. LittleMe watched the clock, although she hadn’t learned to read the big clock very well yet, she did know that both hands of the clock would be straight in the middle on the number 12 when the lunch bell rang. She scurried to get in line and walked in the required orderly fashion to the giant cafeteria. She found her seat and opened her “Dagwood and Blondie” lunch box. It always smelled of something she didn’t like, perhaps the tin itself was the cause. She opened her thermos and poured out her milk into it’s red matching cup and unfolded the paper wrap around her peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She then ate a mini box of raisins and a couple of carrot sticks. She raised her hand and her first grade teacher, Mrs. Edwards ( who’d paddled her twice in her first month of school) came to her seat. LittleMe asked to use the toilet and Mrs.Edwards gave her a hall pass and she ran as fast as she could to the stark white bathrooms with big gray doors and silver metal sliding locks. She went in a stall and sat waiting for the button. She waited and waited and nothing came. Soon Mrs. Edwards would come to look for her. LittleMe panicked at the sound of the big door creaking open. “Lunch time is over, come along.” LittleMe flushed the toilet terrified. She fell into line with her class and wiggled and fidgeted until Mrs. Edwards spoke loudly, ” What is making you so disruptive today?” LittleMe saw all eyes on her and shrugged her shoulders. She tried very hard to remain composed. When the bell rang for recess she went along hesitantly with the others and thought about the button somewhere in her body lying there and how her mother would ask what happened. She never went near the merry-go-round and trapsed along the grass beside the beige bricked courtyard. Suddenly she saw in the grass a nest with two bird eggs. She called for her friend Bitsy to have a look. Bitsy told her best friend Steve and soon the school guard came to have a look. “Leave them alone” and he quelled the curiosity of the gathering crowd with, ” the Mother bird will come back for them.” Everyone scattered and of course LittleMe lingered behind. Once the guard had blown the whistle to end recess she had to make a quick decision. Would the mother come back? Would the eggs be stepped on when everyone ran home after school? She knew that they needed protection and warmth. She decided not to risk it and took the eggs and hid them in her front pockets of her green and white dress. She carefully got in cue and returned to class. It was story time and all children were to put their hands on their desks and lay their heads down to rest. While the teacher read aloud LittleMe stared down at her pockets and couldn’t wait to get home and have her own baby birds to feed. Then a warmth could be felt on her stomach; she looked in her pocket and there the eggs had cracked. The wet goop dripped down her leg to her knee socks. She kicked Bitsy under the table who sat directly across from her. Bitsy looked puzzled then LittleMe whispered, “run for paper towels”. They both eyed Mrs.Edwards and she appeared immersed in her book pacing along the front of the chalkboard. Bitsy saw the eggy mess and scuttled to the art corner where heavy industrial paper could be rolled out and torn from a hanger on the wall. Immediately Mrs. Edwards raised her eyebrows and called out to Bitsy with a stern tone. “What are you up to Bitsy?”; Bitsy in her yellow dangling, curly pigtails and smock floral dress stopped in her tracks. She looked at Mrs. Edwards then she looked at LittleMe. Yikes. LittleMe knew right then she was in for trouble. Bitsy blurted out that the eggs had cracked and the babies weren’t there. “Eggs?” LittleMe stood up and Mrs. Edwards and Bitsy looked at her pockets and at the dripping gunk as did the whole lot of her classroom. “What on earth have you done now!” their teacher called out. She took the paper towels from Bitsy’s hands and marched LittleMe to the washroom in the class. She wiped her legs and picked out the crumbled shells and looked into LittleMe’s eyes quizzically. “You’ve been paddled twice and still you cause disruption. What were you doing with eggs in your pocket?” LittleMe explained in first grade words how it all came to be. She started to cry. Mrs. Edwards told her she hoped she’d learned her lesson to let nature take care of nature and for one moment Mrs. Edwards looked empathetic. Story time was interrupted and it was LittleMe’s fault. Bitsy was red-faced and horrified as she realized she had broken a rule; Never Get Up From Your Seat Without Permission! Sting. LittleMe waited for the paddle to be taken from it’s drawer in Mrs. Edwards desk. Nothing happened. Soon the clock was on the 2 and 12 and the bell rang to line up for dismissal; Bitsy ran to the front and was to lead the line that day. “Wait, Bitsy! You broke an important rule today and can not be the leader.” said Mrs. Edwards. Bitsy hadn’t raised her hand and it was all LittleMe’s chaos that brought this on. Bitsy was taken to the end of the line and then all marched out to the big double doors that opened to the sunshine and freedom of home. As kids ran this way and that, LittleMe sprung down the grassy knoll, hopped across the creek, sprung up the hill passed the barking dogs, the clothesline and there was Mrs. Dillahay smiling, her hair all styled now and cookies and fruit punch were waiting for her regulars. Sitting cross legged on the braided rug LittleMe watched “Gilligan’s Island” and ate her cookies. Suddenly she remembered the button in her tummy. She ran to the basement toilet which all the youngster’s overseen used and sat and waited. Afterwards, before she flushed she looked carefully and there was the tiny white button. She called out for her babysitter who came in quickly. “Look, it’s there! Can you get it out?” begged LittleMe. “Oh no, no, it has to be flushed.” Mrs. Dillahay pushed the handle down and there went the button. She took a look at LittleMe’s dress and saw the stains from the bird’s eggs. “Let me fix you up a bit. She lifted her dress over her head and rinsed the pockets clean and then slipped her dress back on her, “go out and play in the sun and they’ll dry and leave me your sweater to me”. Outside the kids chased butterflies, teased the dogs and swung on the tire swing under the cool shade of an old oak tree. All was going well until they all heard Gary, a very tiny boy cry out. They all ran up the hill passed the dogs and there sat little Gary with his eyes swollen shut! LittleMe ran for Mrs. Dillahay and she came out quickly. Gary was coughing and screaming. No one made a sound. She ran back in the house and came out with her purse and car keys and told everyone to jump in fast. We all got in the backseat and some hurdled over the seat into the flat back of her station wagon and off we sped to the clinic where we all knew that shots were given. She parked the car and rolled the windows down and told us all to stay inside no matter. She grabbed Gary who by then was making a wheezing sound that was very scary. We all gathered in the far back and stared out toward the door and waited. Soon enough out came Gary walking and quiet, his eyes were still puffy but Mrs. Dillahay was smiling in her kindly way that meant all was fine. When we got back to the house his parents had shown up. Gary’s mother and father were there. A bit of LittleMe was jealous to see his father show such concern. Gary had been stung by a bee. Now LittleMe who was very good at worrying had something more to think about. She went inside and sat on the couch with her arms crossed and then heard her mother’s voice. She looked down at her pockets and the stains were gone and then on her way out the door her mother asked, “where’s your white sweater?” Mrs.Dillahay smiling as always waved and said hello then asked for us to wait. She popped inside and brought out her sweater and low and behold there were no missing buttons.