“Zack’s First Hayride,” Friend, July 1993, 42
Zachary was spending his first summer on his grandparents’ farm. Zack loved the farm. He woke up early each morning and jumped happily out of bed. First he helped Grandpa milk the cows. Then he dashed to the kitchen to help Grandma by setting the breakfast table and putting food out for the cats that were stretching lazily outside the back door.
One sunny morning Zack’s grandfather had a surprise for him. “How would you like to go on a hayride today?”
Zack grinned a huge grin. “You mean a ride in a big wagon filled with hay? That would be super!” he exclaimed, jumping up from the breakfast table.
“Whoa there, Zack,” Grandpa chuckled. “How about finishing your breakfast first?”
Zack didn’t know if he could sit still that long, but he sat down to give it a good try.
After breakfast, Zack and his grandfather drove to the Steins’ farm. Mr. Stein was preparing the wagon for the hayride, and Zack saw about eight other kids running in the yard. They all seemed to be as excited as he was. Zack felt shy because he didn’t know any of the other kids. Just then a pudgy boy in a red sweatshirt gave Zack a big smile. That smile helped a lot, and Zack grinned back. He felt much less shy.
“OK, kids,” Mr. Stein said, “who would like to try out my new hay wagon?”
Zack loved the feel and the smell of the sweet hay as he climbed into the wagon. The hay poked softly through his T-shirt and stuck in his hair. Mr. Stein drove the wagon all around the countryside. The bumpy ride put tickles in Zack’s tummy. He felt as if he might grin for the rest of his life!
Then a few of the other kids started to tease the boy in the red sweatshirt, the one who had smiled at Zack and made him feel good. The kids were teasing the boy about being overweight. He pretended not to hear them and bravely kept a smile on his face. But Zack knew that the teasing hurt the boy’s feelings. Zack wished that he could help, but when the boy looked over at him, Zack looked away. He didn’t know how to help.
The day was still sunny, the hay was still sweet, and the wagon was still bumping along, but Zack didn’t feel as happy anymore. When the hayride was over, he hopped quickly down from the wagon and ran over to his grandpa’s truck.
“Are you OK?” Grandpa asked. “I expected you to be full of smiles after the ride.”
Zack told Grandpa about the boy being teased. “Grandpa, I don’t know why I feel so awful. I didn’t tease him. But I feel just as terrible as if I had!”
Grandpa thought for a moment, then hugged him tightly. “Zack, I think you feel bad because someone else had his feelings hurt. I’m proud to have a grandson who can feel compassion for others.”
Zack thought about the way the boy in the red sweatshirt had made him feel more comfortable when he first arrived at the Steins’ farm. Suddenly he knew what he could do to help the boy—and himself—feel happy again! “Do you know who the boy in the red sweatshirt is?”
“Yes, he is Teddy Ames. His dad owns the farm next to ours.”
“Would it be OK if we stopped there on our way home?” Zack asked. “I can’t change what happened today at the hayride, but it might make Teddy feel better to know that he has a new friend right next door.”