Upsetting Sam

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“Upsetting Sam,” Friend, June 1971, 38

Upsetting Sam

One day Sam accidentally hopped on his grandmother’s toe. He accidentally ate a plate of fresh cookies that his mother had baked for dinner. Then he accidentally cut pictures out of his father’s evening paper. The family was very upset with him.

“I can’t read a story to you today,” his grandmother said, waggling her sore toe in a basin of warm water. “My toe hurts too much.”

“There will be no dessert for dinner tonight,” his mother announced at dinner. “Sam ate it all up.”

After dinner, when his father sat down to read the evening paper and found only holes, he said, “Sam, go to your room and try very hard to find a way to keep from upsetting people.”

Sam climbed the stairs, saying to himself, “Grandmother doesn’t like me, Mother doesn’t like me, and Father doesn’t like me either, because I upset them. I have to make them like me again.”

Sam straddled a chair in his room and said to his electric train, “I could buy Grandmother a pair of wooden shoes, and then if I accidentally hopped on her toes, she wouldn’t be upset.”

He jumped up and down on his bed and said to his football, “I could buy Mother a bakery shop, and then she wouldn’t be upset if I accidentally ate some cookies.”

He stood on his head and said to the ceiling, “I could buy Father a newsstand. Then if I accidentally cut out pictures in a newspaper, he wouldn’t be upset.”

But when he shook his bank, which was shaped like a fat toad, and only seven pennies fell out, he knew he didn’t have quite enough money. So he said to himself, “I guess I’ll just have to sit in a chair and be still so I don’t upset anyone. Then they’ll like me.”

Sam went back downstairs. He didn’t slide down the banister. He sat quietly in the soft chair and folded his hands.

His grandmother looked at him over her sore toe. “You’re very quiet, Sam. Does your toe hurt too?”

“No, thank you,” Sam said.

His mother came in from the kitchen and looked at him. “Do you have a stomachache from eating too many cookies?” she asked.

“No, thank you,” Sam said.

His father looked through a hole in his newspaper. “Would you like to walk to the drugstore for an ice cream cone?”

“No, thank you,” Sam said.

For the next hour Sam sat in the chair while the family kept watching him. After a while Grandmother said, “My toe feels better now. Sam, would you like me to read a story?”

“No, thank you,” Sam answered.

His mother felt his forehead. “Are you sick, Sam?”

“No, thank you,” Sam said.

“Would you like to watch television?” his father asked.

“No, thank you,” Sam replied.

Sam hoped the family would see how good he was and begin to like him again, because he didn’t know how much longer he could keep his feet from running.

Grandmother walked around the room exercising her toe and looking at him. His mother watched him over the blue sock she was mending, and his father kept staring at him through the holes in the newspaper.

Finally his mother jumped up from her chair.

“I’m so upset,” she said, “I’m going to call the doctor. I just know that Sam is sick.”

“I’m not sick!” Sam protested.

“But you aren’t running and playing and getting into mischief,” she said in a worried voice.

Sam’s eyes widened. “Do you like me if I get into mischief and upset all of you?”

“Oh, yes,” they all said. “We love you no matter what you do.”

“Yippee!” Sam shouted, as he jumped down from the chair. He raced around the room. His father and mother smiled happily because they were so glad that he wasn’t sick. And Grandmother kept smiling even when he accidentally hopped on her toe.

Illustrated by Phyllis Luch