The Birthday Shovel

The shovel came as a complete surprise. Of course she had always asked. Generally a recent trip to the store prompted the answer but this one just was not a gift off the toy aisle shelf.

“So”, she said, “what do you want for your birthday this year?”

“I want a shovel”, was his reply.

The answer made her turn to check if she had heard right. A shovel was not what she had expected at all. The pancakes were burning and the water in the sink began to over flow onto the counter. They stood face to tummy…a small boy with a truck under his arm and a sister at his side. “A shovel? Where did you see a play shovel set?”

“Mom, I don’t want a play shovel…I want a real shovel. You know. The kind that is painted red and the handle has a hole at the top so’s you can hang it up. I don’t want an ugly shovel. It needs to be beautiful and brand new. That kind.”

Now she was mopping water up and moving children to the side. Oh dear it is really dirty under that stove…I could use a real shovel to clean this kitchen up. Wait…how much does a real shovel costs? Sigh! “Well we will see dear. That might be just what you father had in mind too. But just in case, is there anything else?”

They had never planned ahead for a party in their lives. The children didn’t know that other people did that. Mom would bake a cake, usually angel food for her son. Then the announce would come from the kitchen. “Go find a party kids. The cake will be served in a few minutes.”

As the table filled with neighborhood children, a gift would appear, wrapped in left over paper from another birthday or Christmas…sometimes wrapped in the funny papers. But this year a ribbon on the blade of a shovel was all the pretense there was at hiding what the gift would be.

“That’s your gift?” a little girl whispered.

“Did you ask for a shovel?” another said.

Silence filled the room. The little boys all gasped at the wonder of it all. The girls shyly measured the shovels size. All the voices came at once….a lovely explosion of glee.

“Can we all have a turns?”

The cake was delicious, the children went away with Kool Aid on their faces and frosting on their shirts. All the boys trooped off to the vacant lot where a hole was waiting to be dug. They were all sure that buried treasure or a fort or even a hiding place would appear soon. Each boy had his incredible ambitious project in his minds eye.

The girls stood at the door. “Mom, do you think he will give us a turn?” came from behind her. Oh my goodness, even the little girls want a real “toy”. I bet they would ask for a type writer if they thought we would buy one. They always surprise me…what ever did I go to college for when I had the best teachers in the world waiting here at home.

“Yes darling, I will make sure you get a turn”…right after I use the shovel to clean up under the stove. She turned and smiled. “I love you sweety”

Have a wonderful day.



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