Happy tenth birthday to beautiful McKayla, our mercurial middle grandchild. She is a dark eyed, dark haired mixture of sweetness and spunk, quick of temper, but equally quick to hug. She was born the very day of the devastating tsunami that struck Thailand on December 26, 2004, and there’s a bit of the tsunami in her. McKayla is a force of nature.
Smart, funny, and imaginative, she can and does play pretend for hours. I’m always amazed at how quickly her mind works. No matter what scenario is tossed her way she has a comeback. It doesn’t matter if we are pretending that she is the owner of a pet shop and I only want a pet hippopotamus, or if we are pretending she is a waitress and the only thing I can eat is stuffed asparagus, McKayla has a solution. She doesn’t blink twice before saying, “We don’t carry hippos in this store, but I can find you one at another of our locations,” or “Our asparagus is rather soggy today, could I recommend the stuffed broccoli instead?”
She’s become a really good reader, loves her American Girl dolls, and is a cheerleader in her spare time. Oh, she loves animals and hopes to be a veterinarian or to own a farm with her cousin, Dominique, some day.
Here’s my story for McKayla. Happy birthday sweetheart!
McKayla’s Amazing Pet Shop
On the corner of First Avenue and Main Street sits a cozy little shop. In front of the shop is a sign that says,
McKayla’s Amazing Pet Shop
If you go into the shop today this is what you will find:
Three guinea pigs
Twenty-five goldfish in a large aquarium
If you go into the shop you will never find:
The animals are all best friends. The dogs play with the cats, and the turtles like the snakes. The horse is best friends with the canary, and the toad is the most popular animal of all. It sounds crazy, but it is simply amazing.
The secret? The owner of the shop, McKayla, has trained each of the animals to be kind to one another. Every morning the animals gather in a circle with McKayla to discuss their feelings.
One day Slither Snake said, “I don’t think anyone will ever adopt me.”
One of the turtles patted Slither on the head and said, “Just you wait. The right person will be along any day now.”
McKayla said, “It must be the right person. I would never send any of you home with someone who would treat you badly.”
“How do you pick the right person?” asked Toad.
“Yes, tell us about the right person,” meowed the smallest cat.
McKayla said, “Well, the right person will have kind eyes and a big smile,
a comfortable lap and loving arms. The right person will have a soft voice and a lot of patience. The right person will love you very much.”
“That sounds like you, McKayla,” said the horse.
“Yes! Yes, it does!” agreed all the animals.
“Thank you,” said McKayla. “Before we open the shop today let’s tell each other one positive thing about ourselves. Slither, you go first.”
Slither said, “I am a good listener.”
All the other animals nodded in agreement.
Toad went next, then each of the cats and the dogs took a turn. The horse said, “I am helpful.” And the parrot said, “I am helpful.”
All of the animals had something positive to say about themselves except for the goldfish who never learned to talk, so all the animals agreed that the goldfish were the best swimmers in the shop.
McKayla said, “I am very proud of you all. Now it’s time to open the shop. Places everyone!”
As soon as McKayla unlocked the door a customer walked in. “I need a pet,” the woman announced. “Something cute and cuddly that my grandson can play with.”
McKayla smiled at the woman, but the woman didn’t smile back. The woman walked over to the corner where the dogs were tumbling about.
She pointed at Curly Pup and said,
“That one will do. Wrap him up.”
“I’m sorry,” said McKayla. “All of the puppies are spoken for.”
The woman sniffed. “Then a cat. I don’t care which one.”
McKayla shook her head and said, “None of the kittens are for sale at this time.”
“Well!” huffed the woman. “I do not like this shop!” And she left.
“That was not the right person,” said Gary Guinea Pig.
“She was scary,” squeaked Curly Pup.
The door opened again and a young man entered. He was smiling.
McKayla asked, “How may I help you?”
“I am new in this neighborhood, and I’m kind of lonely,” he replied.
“Feel free to visit with the animals,” said McKayla. “Let me know if you have any questions.”
The young man sat on the floor to play with Toad. He tossed a ball to the dogs and dangled a string for the cats. He groomed the horse and cuddled with the guinea pigs. He exchanged pleasantries with the parrot and whistled with the canary.
“My goodness!” he exclaimed. “You have so many different kinds of animals in your shop.”
“Yes,” said McKayla. “They are all just waiting for the right person.”
“Well, I want a friend who will be a good listener,” said the man. “Which of the animals here is the best at listening?”
Toad hopped over to Slither. Parrot squawked, “Snake! Snake!”
McKayla laughed. “Our very best listener is Slither Snake,” she said.
“Slither,” said the man. “Would you like to be my new friend?”
And everyone knew he was the right person.<br />