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May 8, 2011

'Mother of the Year'

May 08, 2011|By Elizabeth Spurr
  • "Mother of the Year"
"Mother of the Year" (Kimberly Dwinell )

A week before Mother's Day, Ms. Bidwell announced the essay contest for Mother of the Year. She passed out paper and pencils. Katy Keene was stumped. What could she write? Her mother was the queen of mean! Katy chewed on her pencil and sucked the eraser. (Which her mother would never allow.) She got an idea. Her eyes squinted, and her lips curled. Scribble, scrabble, scribble, her pencil almost flew! When the bell rang, Katy was still writing. Ms. Bidwell let her take the essay home.

Katy wrote before setting the table and after drying the dishes. She wrote next morning before feeding the dog. There was so much to say!

Dad sipped his coffee. "A special project, Katy?"

"I am writing why Mom should be Mother of the Year."

"That should be easy," said Dad.

Katy's mother dropped carrots and broccoli into her school lunch. "I'm surprised," she said, "that you would have anything to say."

At school, Ms. Birdwell took the essay. "Such a nice, long paper. And so neatly done. Maybe you will win first prize."

Katy grinned and took her seat. There was no chance that she'd win. Ms. Bidwell will be horrified!

On PTA day Katy's mother saved Katy a seat in the first row of the multi-purpose room. She had curled her hair and put on lipstick. She was wearing her new sweater. When she saw the newsman's camera, she sat up straight.

"Do I look OK?" she asked. "I want you to be proud when I take a bow."

Katy felt a knot in her stomach. Maybe she should have made something up. Made up a mother like Samantha's who cuts the crusts off sandwiches and bakes cookies every day. Or Crystal's, who lets her daughter have manicures and facials. Or Mark's, who takes the whole class horseback riding.

Mr. Dinks, the principal, came to the microphone. He would read the three best essays and give a bouquet of roses to the Mother of the Year.

He read the first paper. "The dictionary defines love as ..." The work was Samantha's, but there was no mention of crusts or cookies.

The second paper read, "My mother is my best friend." Crystal. But not a word about manicures and facials.

Mr. Dinks picked up the last essay: "My mother has a lot of rules. I can only watch TV one hour a day, and not until my homework is done."

Katy slouched in her chair. There must be some mistake.

"My mother will not drive me to soccer. She makes me ride my bike. She will not wake me in the morning; I must use my alarm. I get no breakfast until my bed is made."

What was going on? Mr. Dinks must have the papers mixed up.

"I don't get dessert, unless I eat my vegetables. On weekends I can't play until I've cleaned my room."

Katy looked up at her mother. She was wiping her eyes. Maybe she was sorry she had been so mean. But Katy felt even sorrier, that she had told on her.

Mr. Dinks was finishing. "When I've spent my allowance, she won't let me borrow more. I have to go to the library or someplace that is free."

Mr. Dinks took off his glasses and picked up the roses. "Will Mrs. Keene and her daughter please come accept first prize?"

The next day Katy's mother cut the crusts off her tuna sandwiches. She packed them in the lunch with some freshly baked cookies.

Katy reached into the vase and handed her a rose.

Special thanks to Kimberly Dwinell for her illustration. To see more of her work, visit kimdwinell.com

Elizabeth Spurr is the author of "Monsters, Mind Your Manners."

For more Kids' Reading Room, visit latimes.com/kids . And be sure and check out "Short Stories" and "Creativity Corner" under Activity Center for more stories and poems about Mother's Day.

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