We were sitting on my sisters’ bed playing Monopoly when we heard it. “Girls.” It was Daddy and he was using that voice! The quiet, scary one. The one that meant somebody was in big trouble. “I need y’all to come in here.” We hustled off the bed, ran down the hall and crowded into the tiny bathroom where Daddy stood waiting for us.
It was my most favorite room in the house. Once, all four walls had been the exact same color as a yellow Crayola crayon. But earlier in the week, Mama had spent a few precious dollars and a whole morning covering the splashed and spattered wall behind the sink with Contact paper. It now bloomed with hundreds of little yellow flowers and tiny green leaves. Being in there was almost like being outside on a warm spring day.
Which would’ve been a good place to be. “Does somebody want to tell me who did this?” Daddy asked, moving aside and pointing to the pretty flowered wall. And its newest decoration - an intensely purple, well-chewed, globby wad of grape bubblegum. As ugly as a big ol’ pimple on the nose of a prom queen, it had been smooshed into the wall just above the hot water knob, and had started a slow, stringy drip toward the floor.
“Well…? I’m waiting.” He was still using the voice.
“Not me, Daddy.” “I didn’t do it.” “Wasn’t me.”
“Girls, your mama and I don’t chew grape bubblegum. It had to be one of y’all. I want an answer. Now.” The look he gave us made us wiggle. It made us wriggle. It made us shuffle our feet. Still, no one confessed.
“All right,” he sighed. “If y’all aren’t going to tell me who did it, I’m going to have to punish you all three. For two weeks, there’ll be no going out of the yard, no having friends over and no bike riding. And bedtime will be at eight o’clock.” (Oh, no! Not that! That meant no Brady Bunch!) “Now, go put the game away and get ready for bed.” Like the losing team leaving the field, we trudged back down the hall, each trying to convince the other two of her innocence.
For two weeks, we stayed in our yard and played with each other. For two weeks, our bikes stayed parked in the garage. For two weeks, we went to bed at eight o’clock and for two weeks, we missed the Brady Bunch! But every single day, Daddy laughed with us and played with us. And every single night, he tucked us in bed and kissed us goodnight. He had been angry and disappointed that one of us had lied to him. But he never, for one minute, stopped loving us.
That’s the way it is with people you love. No matter how sad they make you or how much they disappoint you, you just keep right on loving them through all of their sticky messes.