Benjamin’s Prize-Winning Hat

“Benjamin’s Prize-Winning Hat,” Friend, Sept. 1987, 8

Benjamin’s Prize-Winning Hat

I’m not a baby anymore. I’m a Star A in Primary, and I can tie my shoes and count to ten! When I was a baby, I couldn’t do those things, but now I’m getting BIG.

I have two sisters. Their names are Katy and Jennifer. Sometimes they forget that I’m getting big and call me Baby Benjamin. When I tell them, “I’m not a baby anymore,” they always say that they’re sorry. Mom says that when I was born, my sisters loved me so much that they wanted to hold me and rock me all the time and that they got so used to calling me Baby Benjamin when I was little that it’s hard for them to stop now. So sometimes I have to remind them.

Like last week. We were in the garden, and Katy and Jennifer were helping Mom pull weeds, and I was pulling up the rhubarb. Mom lets me eat a stalk of it right out of the garden before it’s cooked into jam. She says that she doesn’t know how I can stand to eat it plain, but I like it. And I never, ever eat any of the leaves. I know that they could make me very sick. But the stalk won’t. It’s a pretty color—sort of red and green—and it tastes real sour! It makes me shiver and pucker up like I’m going to give someone a great big kiss. Mom always laughs when she sees me eating it.

Anyway, I was sitting in the dirt eating my rhubarb when Katy and Jennifer started talking about the hat contest again. The teenagers in our ward were going to have a Children’s Day for all the kids in Primary. Katy was going, and Jennifer was going, and so was I.

There was going to be a hat contest, and Katy decided to wear one of Dad’s old golfing caps. Jennifer chose a sun hat that looks like a pioneer hat. I looked and looked, but I couldn’t find the right hat to wear. Jennifer said that I could wear Dad’s baseball hat, but I wanted to choose my own. I was still thinking about it when I climbed into bed that night. And that’s when a good idea just popped into my head. I decided that I wouldn’t tell anybody about my good-idea hat until the hat contest. It would be a surprise.

When Children’s Day finally came, I got up early and put my hat in a big paper sack. Katy and Jennifer kept asking me to show them my hat, but I told them that they would have to wait.

I had to wear my Sunday shoes because my sneakers didn’t have any shoelaces in them. Katy and Jennifer had tried to find new laces for me before we left, but Mom said that we were all out. I told them not to worry about it, because I thought my shoelaces were just taking a vacation.

When we got to the meetinghouse, Katy and Jennifer put their hats up on a shelf. They wanted to put mine up there, too, but I didn’t want anybody to see my hat until the contest. I had to hold on to my bag with one hand while we played games and ran races and ate cupcakes, but that was OK.

Then it was time for the contest. Katy and Jennifer put their hats on.

“Do you want me to help you put your hat on, Benjamin?” Jennifer asked.

“No, thank you,” I said. “I can do it myself.”

Katy and Jennifer went into the room where the hat contest was going to be, and I went with them. All the other kids had their hats on already, so I decided that it was time for me to put mine on too. I reached into my bag and pulled out three small stalks of rhubarb with lots of leaves on them. Katy’s eyes got very big.

Jennifer looked surprised, too, but not the kind of surprised that I was expecting. “Oh, Benjamin,” she said. “You were supposed to bring a hat! This is a hat contest!”

“This is my hat!” I told her, and I put my rhubarb hat on my head.

“So that’s where your shoelaces went,” Katy said. “You used them to tie the stalks of rhubarb together! Look, Jennifer, it really is a hat!”

The tied-together stalks stuck straight up in the air, and the big leaves sort of hung down all over my head.

Katy and Jennifer were still giggling when Sister Brown started to call the names of the winners. Danny Lopez won the prize for the biggest hat, and Jamie Jones got a prize for having the hat with the most flowers on it. When I heard Sister Brown call my name for the most unusual hat, I was surprised. She shook my hand and gave me a coloring book, and Katy and Jennifer just kept saying, “I can’t believe it! Benjamin’s rhubarb hat won a prize!”

When we got home, I held out the coloring book for Mom to see.

“What’s this?” Mom asked.

“A prize!” I told her.

“He won it for his hat,” Katy said. And between the three of us, we told Mom all about my rhubarb hat.

“Oh, Benjamin,” Mom exclaimed with a big smile, “I’m so proud of you! But where is your hat? Let me see it.”

Nobody said anything for a minute, then Jennifer spoke up.

“He can’t.”

“Why not?” Mom looked at me, puzzled.

“Well-l-l-l”—I gulped and grinned—“I ate it on the way home!”

Illustrated by Shauna Mooney