“Impossible Katy,” Friend, May 1992, 40
Katy and her mother did not agree on many important things. Like rock collections. One day Katy took all her dolls and stuffed animals off her bed. She put her rock collection in their place. “I like rocks better than dolls,” said Katy.
“Katy, you’re impossible,” said Mother. Mother liked dolls much better. She liked anything that was dainty, neat, or ruffled.
That’s why Katy’s mother didn’t like Rex.
Katy had found the scruffy old dog in a vacant lot. He was very big and very dirty. Katy brought him home and cleaned him up. She thought that he was beautiful.
“Wouldn’t you rather have a little poodle?” asked Mother after they were sure he didn’t belong to anyone else. “You could put a bow in its hair, and it could sleep next to your bed.”
“Nope. I like real dogs,” said Katy.
Mother sighed. “Katy, you’re impossible.”
Mother banished Rex to the backyard, but sometimes Katy sneaked him chocolate chip cookies and cherry gelatin.
When Mother decided to send Katy to ballet class, Katy moaned, “I don’t want to wear one of those dumb little dresses.”
“They’re called tutus,” said Mother.
“I don’t care what they’re called. I won’t wear one.”
“You don’t have to wear it all the time, just for performances,” said Mother.
“Performances! I’m not going to get up in front of people in that thing and dance on my toes. I don’t like that sissy stuff,” said Katy.
“Katy, ballet is not sissy stuff. You have to practice hard and be very strong to be a ballerina.”
“I won’t do it.” Katy stuck out her chin.
“You have to,” said Mother. “I’ve already paid for the first month’s lessons. You start on Saturday.”
Katy went outside and sat down on the back steps. “This is the last straw,” she said to Rex. “She doesn’t understand me at all. She can’t be my mother.”
Rex nuzzled her. Katy reached into her pocket and gave him half a baloney sandwich.
“I bet I got switched with another baby at the hospital when I was born!” said Katy. A little pocket of worry started to grow in her heart. “Maybe I’d better check, just in case,” she said as she hugged Rex.
Katy rode her bike to Dr. Bigelow’s office.
The nurse said that the doctor was busy, but Katy hung around the waiting room until she saw him. “Doctor Bigelow,” she yelled as she ran past the nurse, “the night I was born, you didn’t close your eyes for a few minutes, did you?”
The doctor laughed. “Of course not. In fact, I was very busy that night. Another baby was born just about the same time you were.”
“Do you remember who the mother was?”
“Certainly. It was Mrs. Douglas Carr. She had a little girl too. Her name is Pamela. They’re still patients of mine.”
Katy left the doctor’s office and found a phone booth. She looked up Douglas Carr in the phone book, then got back on her bike and rode as fast as she could.
She thought about Pamela Carr. Pamela was probably a very neat person. She would be happy living at Katy’s house with a room full of dolls and ruffles.
The Carrs lived on Florian Drive. As Katy rang the bell, her stomach felt like it did on the first day of school. A pretty redheaded lady opened the door.
“Is Mrs. Carr here?”
“I’m Mrs. Carr.”
“Do you have a daughter named Pamela?”
“Why yes. You must be a friend of hers. Pam, come here.”
The girl came and stood beside her mother. They could have been twins! They had the same curly red hair and the same beautiful smiles.
“I guess I made a mistake,” stammered Katy. She’d never felt so stupid in her whole life, but she also felt relieved.
Katy didn’t want to go home yet, so she went to Grandma’s house, instead.
“Katy, where have you been? Your mother has been looking all over for you,” said Grandma. She called Katy’s mother to tell her where Katy was, then she poured a glass of milk and cut a piece of angel food cake for Katy. “Now, tell me what the trouble is.”
Katy told her the whole story.
“Oh dear! You actually thought that the hospital had switched babies?”
“Don’t move. I’ll be right back.” Grandma went into the other room and came back with a family photo album. She showed Katy a picture of a little girl hanging upside down from a tree. She was making a face at the camera. On the next page was another picture of the same little girl dressed up in a cowboy suit. She looked like Katy’s kind of person. “These are pictures of your mother when she was little,” said Grandma.
“Oh no—it can’t be!” Katy exclaimed. She stared at the pictures. “What happened to her? She sure has changed.”
“She grew up,” said Grandma. “You will, too, someday, but you will still be unique.”
“Does that mean I still have to go to dancing school?”
“Dancing school never hurt anyone. You might even like it.”
Katy sighed. Even Grandma had turned against her.
“There are other kinds of dancing, you know,” said Grandma. “Perhaps you would like tap dancing better than ballet. You get to have taps on your shoes and make a lot of noise. And you don’t have to wear a tutu. Would you like me to talk to your mother about it?”
“Yes, please,” said Katy. She hugged her grandmother. “I’m glad I’m who I am, because you’re the best Grandma in the whole world!”
At the next dance recital, Katy was dressed like Uncle Sam and tapped her way through “Yankee Doodle.” Her parents sat in the front row so that Mother could take pictures of Katy as she danced.
Katy smiled extra big. After all, you never know who might be looking at those pictures someday!