I was ten years old and playing in the backyard on Christmas Day. We were all waiting for the arrival of Grandma and Grandpa. Dad had gone to bring them here to share the day with us. The rest of our family were chanting ‘Happy Christmas’ to them when I arrived in doors. Mum had just given them a cup of tea. Not stopping to think I rushed across the room gathering speed in my enthusiasm to give them both a Christmas hug, but I clumsily knocked Grandma’s cup of hot tea all over her. Mum was really worried and cross with me, for not stopping to think.
Grandma was soaked and upset. Mum asked her if she was burnt or just wet through.”
“No I’m not burnt but I’m certainly wet.”
My Mum dashed out to get a towel while I stood dejectedly watching and saying how really, really sorry I was. She sent me to my bedroom. I was told to sit quietly and think about not being so enthusiastic in everything I did. I don’t know why these things happen to me, especially when I’m trying so hard to be good and do the right thing.
I sat on my bed and thought about going away to some other place where people didn’t notice the wrong things I did, only the good things.
This was hopeless and I don’t want to spend Christmas day sitting in here by myself.
So I called out to Mum, “Can I come out now?”
She answered “You can’t have thought about things in that short space of time. You will have to stay there for a while longer.”
“But this is Christmas day” I cried. She didn’t even answer. After a few minutes I decided to take a chance. I climbed out the window and ran to my friend’s place along the road. Just for a wee while, then I would climb back in before they started Christmas dinner.
There was an empty section beside Norma and Michaels’ house with a huge Microcarpa tree on it. Michael had attached a long rope with a big knot to sit on to a branch that hung out over a steep gorsy cliff. This bank had a flat area half way down then fell away to the rocks below.
Norma and Michael had been told to stay away from the swing as it was frayed near the top. It could break at anytime and was dangerous.
I knew better of course … it still looked pretty good to me. I suggested we just swing gently to try it out. “You go first Norma then you Michael a bit faster I will follow on with a bit more speed and give it a bigger try.
“But Dad said not to go near it and anyway we want to go and play with our new Christmas presents.” said Norma.
“You’re so lucky, we haven’t got any presents until tonight after tea. Now what about having a little swing each? I’m sure your Dad wouldn’t mind if he sees us being very careful.”
“O K” they said, “Just a little one.’’
All went well for their swings, and then it was my turn. I ran towards the rope and jumped onto it ever so gently. It broke straight away. I went sailing through the air, sitting on the knot, right down the bank holding , the rest of the rope following me.
Dropping, dropping, plonk! Straight into the middle of the horrible prickly gorse. . My leg above the knee must have hit something. It was swelling up while I looked at it. I thought it must be broken. I yelled for help.
There were two heads peering over the bank at me, then one of them disappeared. Soon there were four heads, and Norma’s Dad called “Are you alright?”
“No, I think my leg is broken, or something.”
I couldn’t get up. The prickles were sticking into me, and my leg hurt. Norma’s dad disappeared, returning with a big knife. He climbed over the edge of the bank, cutting a track towards me. He talked to me as he came, telling me to keep still and not to cry. He would soon be there.
Looking up I saw my Mum, Grandma and Grandpa.
Mum called out, “It’s alright darling, we’re here. Be a brave girl. Mr Turner will be with you soon.’’
I heard Grandma’s voice, “We are waiting here for you Lucy, try and think of something nice to take your mind off what’s happening.”
I started to feel a bit better. Mr Turner arrived and inspected my leg. “That’s not broken,’’ he said.. “It’s just bruised.”
“But I saw it rising up” I wailed. “It’s all swollen. I can’t climb back up there?”
“You just stand up and start climbing!” He didn’t seem very pleased with me.
“But the prickles are hurting me.” I said.
“Well you should have thought of that before you had a swing.”
I slowly got started to climb.
Mum was angry. “Firstly, you climbed out the bedroom window and came over here,even though you were being punished. Secondly, I hear you were told that rope was unsafe and not to be used. Thirdly, you ignored Mr Turner’s orders and pushed the other two into a dangerous situation, so you could have a swing! You disobeyed everyone.’’
“I’m sorry Mum. I’m hurt. It’s really sore. Look.”
“You’ll be more hurt when your father hears about this.’’
“Oh please don’t tell him Mum, please.”
Grandma and Grandpa weren’t even looking at me. They were walking away without any of the loves or smiles they always gave me.
“You go and apologize to Mr and Mrs Turner and to the children then get straight back to your bedroom. There will be no Christmas dinner for you tonight. You are going straight to bed.”
“But what about my presents?’’ I cried. “I really need my presents, and a bandage on my leg. Look at it Mum?”
“I’m not interested in your leg. And as for presents, you won’t be seeing any tonight. You will be lucky if ever see them. I think I’ll give them to someone who is not naughty. Now, go and apologise.”
I limped over to the Turners’ house and knocked on the door.. My friends were sitting by their Christmas tree, playing with their presents. It was awful having to tell them I was really sorry. I suppose I won’t be allowed back here for a long time I thought.
Mr Turner said “I hope you will do what you are told in future.” Luckily he didn’t say I was not allowed to come over ever again.
Up the road I hobbled, into my bedroom. I seemed to spend a lot of my valuable time stuck in there. All that evening I could hear the rest of my family cheering and laughing as they opened their presents, then sang carols.
Dad, with his booming voice, never came near me, thank goodness. I didn’t know whether or not Mum had told him what had happened.
In the morning I arrived for breakfast, full of apologies. Luckily Dad wasn’t there.
Mum said “Eat your breakfast, then make your bed and tidy your room.”
My whole day was ruined by worrying about what Dad would say. But he never said a word. And Mum seemed her usual cheery self once more.
I was just congratulating myself in bed that night, when Mum came in to say goodnight. “You are grounded for the next fortnight. If you behave, I might find you one present. You really ruined your Christmas didn’t you?”
It was a long fortnight with no swims or friends, but at least Dad didn’t know!