A Grouchy Day

Wednesday morning after breakfast, Becky Lynn's mom asked her to wash her face. The little girl went into the bathroom and admired herself in the mirror. "Who am I to argue? Becky Lynn is a little girl with bright eyes and a big smile! And that cherry filling from the toaster pastry makes her face look really delicious!"

She took a washcloth, wetted it, wiped her face, and examined herself closely. "I'll have to scrub harder than that to get it clean." Becky Lynn got down to business, buried her face in the washcloth, rubbed with both hands, then set the cloth down alongside the sink. She stared, blank-faced, into the mirror.

Becky Lynn's face was clean, but where was her smile? Her expression was as serious as her dad's when he's thinking about business. Then she glanced down at the washcloth, and it was smiling back at her! Not only had Becky Lynn washed the cherry filling onto the cloth, she had also washed off her smile!

"Oh no! I can't spend all day looking like dad!" Thinking she might also wash away the serious face, Becky Lynn wetted a second cloth and scrubbed vigorously. But when her eyes peered into the mirror this time, they were downright sad. And in the washcloth in her hands was a serious expression!

"I will not be sad today!" She took a third washcloth and scrubbed ferociously for as long as her face could stand it. Then Becky Lynn squeezed the cloth into a ball and threw it in the sink. She leaned over the vanity, thrust herself within a few inches of the mirror, and was eye-to-eye with the grouchiest face imaginable.

Becky Lynn stepped back, made two fists and put them on her hips. She looked at the washcloth in the sink. "Well, better grouchy than sad. Look out world, here I come!" She stomped out of the bathroom.

Otis ran up to Becky Lynn, wagging his tail. "Woof!"

Becky Lynn growled as she glared into Otis's eyes. "Grrr! Leave me alone! I'm grouchy!"

But Otis was Becky Lynn's truest buddy, so he circled and nuzzled the little girl until she gave in and paid attention to him. They went outside and played fetch, tummy rub, chase, tug of war, and "let's lay on our backs and look at the sky!"

As Becky Lynn watched the clouds drift overhead, she could swear they were smiling. And the wind rustling through the trees made the happy sound of a little girl and her dog playing--a little girl who hadn't washed off her smile that morning.

"Grrr! Doesn't the world know I'm grouchy?"

Becky Lynn hurried inside, so she wouldn't have to be irritated by things as happy as the clouds and the wind and the trees. Her mom was in the kitchen. "Oh boy! Macaroni and cheese for lunch!" She buried her face in the bowl. "Mmm!"

As she was helping herself to seconds, Becky Lynn stopped in her tracks as she noticed the macaroni--and each little piece was smiling back at her! "Grrr! Can't a grouchy face even have lunch in peace?"

Becky Lynn marched outside, far away from all that smiling macaroni. She met her neighbors, Jack and Jenny. "You'd better be careful! I'm grouchy!"

But the twins didn't believe her. They had great fun with Becky Lynn, playing hopscotch, tag, hide and seek, and "let's lay on our backs and look at the sky!"

"I'm not playing that! I told you I'm grouchy! See?" Becky Lynn scrunched her eyes and mouth together, so she would look as grouchy as possible.

Jack laughed. "You're not grouchy! You couldn't even make a grouchy face if you wanted to!"

"I can so!" Becky Lynn scowled even harder, but it only made both the twins laugh, so she stomped back inside.

Her mom found Becky Lynn quietly bouncing a rubber ball on the basement floor. "Why the sad face?"

"It's not sad! It's grouchy!"

"Then why the grouchy face?"

Becky Lynn told her mother the whole story: how she had scrubbed off her smile that morning, then her serious face, and finally her sad face--leaving her stuck with an ugly grouchy face.

"I'm not even any good at being grouchy. I wish I could have my beautiful smile back."

Her mom began folding the laundry. "You know, I thought there was something strange about that washcloth. It should have been in this last load. Sure enough! Here it is!" She held a cloth up to the light. "There it is! Your smile's still on it!"

"Where?" Becky Lynn asked.

"Just a minute," responded her mom, wetting the washcloth. She handed it to Becky Lynn and asked her to wash her face.

Becky Lynn slowly rubbed the cloth across her mouth, but her mom interrupted, "No, that's not it. You have to concentrate--rub with both hands, like you mean business."

She made a serious expression, and then Becky Lynn buried her face in the washcloth. Her hands rubbed and scrubbed as her mom quietly reassured the little girl, "Yes, yes, it's working, it's working." And as Becky Lynn cautiously removed the cloth from her face, she got a big hug as her mom joyously burst out, "It is you! Becky Lynn is a little girl with bright eyes and a big smile!"

Becky Lynn raced up the stairs, straight to the bathroom so she could look at her smile in the mirror. "It is me!" Her mom came in with the freshly laundered towels and washcloths, and Becky Lynn looked them over. "You guys look so grouchy! Why don't you lighten up? It's a beautiful day!"

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