Castles, Oatmeal, & Strawberry Jam©
by Debi St. Jeor
Katie Sue stomped into the living room. She scowled as she searched behind the couch and under her dad’s chair. She grumbled as she lifted the cushions and shook out the blanket.
“Someone stole my shoes!” she yelled at nobody in particular.
“Don’t be silly,” her mother hollered back from down the hall. “No one is going to take your shoes.”
Katie Sue didn’t wake up grumpy, but she was sure grumpy now. And all because of the jam.
Katie’s real name was Katrina but everyone called her Katie Sue. This suited her just fine because Katrina sounded too stuffy. And besides, anyone called Katrina probably wasn’t allowed to climb trees or dig in the dirt—especially when she was wearing her favorite pink dress with ruffles and lace.
But right now, Katie Sue didn’t want to wear her favorite pink dress or climb in a tree or do anything else fun. She didn’t even want to go to kindergarten. She was just plain mad. Dumb jam!
The day had started out OK. When Katie woke up, she snuggled under the covers, not wanting to climb out of bed. Then she remembered—it was picture day at school! And picture day sounded very important. Yesterday, her teacher had reminded the class several times to wear their nicest clothes. She jumped out of bed. Today was going to be great! She was sure of it.
Katie ran into the kitchen. The other kids had already had breakfast. There were half eaten bowls of oatmeal, honey dribbled across the tablecloth, some almost-empty glasses of milk, and a couple of spoons dropped on the floor.
Her younger brother, Jeff, was under the table making “vroom” noises and playing with his cars. The baby was still strapped into his highchair. He squealed with delight as he threw dry cheerios around the room from up high. Other than that, the house was pretty quiet. That meant that the twins, Chris and Shell, had already left for school. They were big— in second grade. And when they were still home, things were not quiet at all. There was running and yelling and sometimes even crying—but definitely not quiet. They always seemed to have a hard time getting out the door in the morning. Katie was glad she didn’t have to go to kindergarten until the afternoon. She had the whole morning to play before she had to start running around trying not to be late for school. Katie was going to stay in kindergarten forever.
Mom hurried down the hall balancing a big pile of laundry that she dropped on the couch. She always seemed to be in a hurry.
“Oh, good, you’re up,” mom said over her shoulder.
“Mom, it’s picture day!”
“I know. I’m washing your pink dress,” her mom said as she folded and stacked the laundry. “Can you watch your brothers? I’m going to jump in the shower as soon as I get this laundry folded.”
“OK,” Katie responded, and she headed back to the kitchen.
“And eat some breakfast!” her mom hollered after her.
But Katie didn’t really like oatmeal—especially cold. And she wasn’t very hungry anyway. So she crawled under the table with Jeff. That’s when the trouble began.
The whole problem started with the castle they made. They ran and got a couple of blankets that they draped over chairs next to one side of the table. On the other side, they pulled the tablecloth down until it touched the floor. They didn’t mean to pull the cup of milk off; that had been an accident. Katie knew Mom didn’t like milk on the floor, but she wasn’t too worried because most of it landed in the diaper bag.
While Katie was trying to mop up the little bit of milk that had missed the diaper bag, the baby got tired of throwing his dry cheerios around the room, and launched his bottle instead. It was a perfect shot. That bottle bounced off a bowl of leftover oatmeal, skipped across the tabletop and crashed into a jar of strawberry jam. The bowl did a couple of summersaults on its way down, spraying oatmeal all over the wall and curtains before it landed upside down on the floor. The jar of strawberry jam rolled off the table and landed on Jeff’s sneakers. Of course, the lid was off, and the jam made quite a mess as it glopped into Jeff’s left shoe.
Katie Sue ran down the hall and banged on the bathroom door. “Mom, the baby threw his bottle again.”
“What?” her mom yelled from the shower.
“I said the baby threw his bottle again!” Katie shouted louder.
“Then get him down! That means he’s full!” her mom hollered back.
It was too hard to yell over the shower, so Katie decided not to tell her about the oatmeal. Instead, she tried to clean the mess up by herself. She wiped most of it up with her sister’s nightgown that she found on the bedroom floor. What was left got spread out really thin so you could hardly see it. She didn’t worry about the curtains, because they were almost the same color as the oatmeal, so it blended in really nice. And the globs on the walls were too high for her to reach.
With that job accomplished, she got the baby down from his high chair before he found anything else to throw. She’d forgotten all about the jam.
“I gotcha!” Jeff yelled as he swung his green Star Wars sword right at Katie’s head. But she ducked and he missed, spun in a circle, and sat down hard.
“Hey! Not now! I’m taking care of the baby!” Katie yelled.
“And I’m taking over the castle!” Jeff yelled back as he scrambled to his feet.
“Oh not you don’t!”
And the fight was on. Katie grabbed her blue sword from under the table and swung back. She had a castle to defend from the evil Sir Jeffery! They fought each other around the table, over the baby who squealed and grabbed at their legs, through the living room and onto the couch for the final battle. Their plastic Star Wars swords crashed against each other. But Katie was bigger, so she was winning. Jeff took a step back, lost his balance, and fell right onto the pile of folded laundry that was stacked at the
end of the couch. But at least it cushioned his fall as he rolled to the floor and landed on the mound of towels and sheets that he’d just knocked off.
“I won!” Katie shouted triumphantly.
“You did not! You cheated!” Jeff yelled back. “You’re bigger!”
“So? I still won!” And she raced off to the castle.
Jeff climbed out of the laundry that was now all over the floor, and chased after her. “I’m telling Mom!” he threatened.
“Oh, all right,” Katie said reluctantly. And Jeff followed her into the castle.
They pretended they were hiding from invaders, and they shot at them from underneath the tablecloth and between the blankets. They were in the middle of a very fierce battle when they heard their mom shriek. Katie clamored out from underneath the table and ran into the living room, Jeff right behind her.
There stood their mom in a robe with her hair still dripping from the shower. She was staring at the pile of laundry that used to be folded neatly on the couch but was now all over the floor. And right in the middle of it all was the baby, covered from head to toe in strawberry jam and tangled up in the towels and sheets. He squealed and giggled as he rolled around and chewed on the end of a towel. The laundry was a mess. Strawberry jam was everywhere!
Check out Debi's blog about her adventures in Alaska--