“Let’s Make a Deal,” Friend, Aug. 1998, 20
Kate looked at the kitchen table covered with dirty supper dishes, trying to decide where to start. “It’s hard to believe that summer’s almost over,” she sighed as she started to stack the plates.
“I know what you mean,” Becky said. “It’s our last week of summer vacation, and we still haven’t gone to the new water park. Do you think Mom will take us there if we ask?”
“Maybe,” Kate said as she carried the plates to the sink. “But I know that Mom’s really busy this week. And we did a lot of fun things this summer. We just didn’t go to the water park.”
Becky followed Kate back into the dining room. She leaned against the table while her sister gathered up the glasses and utensils. “Yes—if you call driving all day to get to a family reunion fun,” she muttered.
“It was fun,” said Kate. “You’re just being ornery.” She picked up four glasses and headed back to the kitchen. Becky followed.
“It was all right,” Becky agreed, “but I’ll bet we’re the only two kids in our whole school who haven’t gone to the water park.”
Losing patience, Kate turned to Becky. “Will you please stop complaining and help me with the dishes?”
Rolling her eyes, Becky opened the dishwasher and was starting to load the dirty dishes, when their mom came in.
“Thank you for doing the dishes,” Mom said. “I appreciate all the work the two of you do.”
“No problem, Mom.” Kate smiled.
“Yeah,” Becky agreed. “We were just saying that it’s too bad that the summer’s almost over and we never made it to the new water park.”
“That is a shame,” Mom said. She thought for a moment, then said, “I’ll make you a deal. I have some errands to run tomorrow morning. If you two will clean the garage while I’m gone, I’ll stop and buy tickets to the water park, and we can go when I get home.”
“That would be great!” Becky exclaimed.
“It’s a deal,” Kate said.
“Cleaning the garage is a big job. Do you think you can do it without me?”
“No problem,” Becky said.
The next morning Kate jumped out of bed and ran downstairs. Mom had already left. “Good morning,” Kate greeted her grandmother.
“Good morning, dear. Are you ready for your breakfast?”
Kate nodded and followed her grandmother into the kitchen. “Becky and I are going to clean the garage. Then Mom is going to take us to the new water park.”
“That’s what your mother told me,” said Grandma. “Would you please go wake Becky.”
“What’s the big hurry?” Becky grumped when Kate tried to talk her into getting up.
“We need to eat breakfast and start cleaning the garage.”
“No, we don’t. You heard what Mom said. She’s picking up the tickets while she’s out. She’s not going to tell us that we can’t go after she’s already bought the tickets.”
Kate frowned. “But we made a deal.”
“If you’re so worried, you go clean the garage. Tell Grandma that I’ll have breakfast later. Right now I need to figure out which swimming suit I want to wear.”
Kate trudged back down the stairs.
“What’s wrong?” Grandma asked.
“Becky says she’s not going to help. She thinks Mom will let us go even if we don’t clean the garage.”
“What do you think?” Grandma asked.
“We said we would clean the garage,” said Kate, “so that’s what I’m going to do.”
“Well,” said Grandma, “you’ve made your decision, and you’ll have to let Becky make hers. Sometimes we want to make other people’s decisions for them, but we can’t.”
After breakfast, Kate marched out to the garage and looked around, trying to figure out where to start. She decided to start by moving everything she needed to so that she could sweep out the leaves that had collected around the edges. At first she was angry at Becky for not helping, but soon her thoughts turned to the job that she was doing.
When Mom arrived home, Kate was organizing cans of food storage on a shelf.
“Where’s your sister?” Mom asked.
“In the house,” Kate answered.
“Isn’t she helping?”
Kate shook her head.
Just then Becky appeared in the doorway. “Hi, Mom,” she said cheerfully. “Did you get the tickets?”
“Yes I did,” said Mom. “Did you help clean the garage?”
“I was just coming to help.”
Mom shook her head. “Don’t worry about it.”
Becky looked over at Kate and smiled an I-told-you-so smile. Her smile disappeared fast when Mom added, “You can finish cleaning it while Kate and I are at the water park.”
Becky’s mouth dropped open. “What do you mean?”
“You didn’t keep your end of the bargain, so you may not come with us.”
Becky couldn’t believe her ears. “But didn’t you already buy me a ticket?”
“I bought tickets for the girls who kept their promises and cleaned the garage. Did you keep your promise?”
Becky hung her head. “No.”
“I thought that you’d let me go anyway.”
“You made a choice. You’ll have to live with the consequences.”
Tears streamed down Becky’s face. “That’s not fair.”
Mom put her arms around Becky. “I know it isn’t what you want,” Mom said, “but it is fair.”
Becky watched out the living room window as the car pulled away from the house. “I blew it, Grandma,” she said.
Grandma nodded. “You made a bad choice. What you need to do now is learn from your mistake. If your mom had taken you to the water park, you would have thought that it’s all right to make promises that you don’t intend to keep. And it isn’t. Does that make sense?”
“I guess so.”
“Now, I have a deal for you, if you are interested.”
Becky looked up. “What is it?”
“If you’ll go finish up the garage, when you’re done, we’ll bake some cookies for the family.”
Grandma smiled. “Chocolate chip.”
“It’s a deal,” Becky said, heading toward the garage. “And this time I mean it.”