Have you met the Jacobs family yet? They love to make new friends. Here’s where you should begin.
A new friend was coming to play. They had never been to the Jacobs’ house before. The children were looking forward to the visit.
Mom was worried. She thought the house was messy. Twelve-year-old Matt said, “The house is only a little messy. It is messy enough to be fun. We can play in this mess.” Mom did not like that answer. She told Matt to go clean the bathroom.
“The bathroom!” said Matt. “That is the worst. Maybe I could clean something else. Besides, we will not be playing in the bathroom.”
Mom handed Matt the toothbrush she used for cleaning. “You will clean the bathroom. You will clean it very well. And you will not forget that this is a brush for cleaning. Do not put it back with the real toothbrushes.” Matt made a face.
Eleven-year-old Josephine laughed. “You are laughing, Joey,” Mom said. “But you would not be laughing if you had used the dirty brush.”
“I’m sorry,” said Joey. “I did not do it on purpose.”
She giggled. “But Dad’s face was so funny when he put it in his mouth.”
“Dad said you may not clean the bathroom again for a long time,” said Mom.
“That is not so bad,” answered Joey.
“You have to clean the back porch,” said Mom.
“Oh no!” Joey said. “That is almost as bad. It is so dusty and dirty. There are spider webs.”
Mom handed Joey a broom. “Hurry up!” she said. “Our new friend will be here soon.”
I am glad I do not have to clean the bathroom or the porch, Emma thought. Emma was nine-years-old. Her job was sweeping. She liked to sweep. She would put on her rollerblades and skate around the room with the broom.
“Emma,” Mom said. “Today I would also like for you to mop. Sweep first, then mop. If you mop first, you will just make mud.”
“No problem, Emma said. What will Brandon do?”
Mom looked at eight-year-old Brandon. He was playing Minecraft. “Brandon,” she said, “please pick up all the toys from the floor. Emma is going to sweep. As soon as you finish, you can play again.”
“Ok!” Brandon said. He hurried to get the job done. Brandon was on the autism spectrum. He did not like having to change activities. He wanted to get back to his game.
“Alexa,” Mom said, “set a 30-minute timer.” “Setting a 30-minute timer now,” responded the smart speaker. “I will go upstairs and clean the office,” Mom said. When the timer is done, I will come to check on you.
Emma zipped around the room on her rollerblades. The Jacobs’ kitchen and living room were all one big room. The Jacobs built the house to be wheelchair accessible for Joey.
There was a lot of open space, and the floors were wood. This was good for a wheelchair to ride on. But it was also good for Emma’s rollerblades.
Like Mom instructed, first Emma swept. Then she mopped. She got all her work done before the timer went off. The floor was still a little wet, so she went to her room to take a break.
A few minutes later the timer went off. Emma heard Mom coming back down the stairs.
“Oh no!” yelled Mom. “What happened to the floor?”
Emma skated back to the living room. She saw something that made her surprised. Emma zoomed over to the couch. There was mud in front of the couch. There was mud behind the couch. There was mud beside the couch. There was mud everywhere.
“I don’t know!” Emma said. Her eyes got big. “I swept first, just like you said.”
Mom looked at Emma’s rollerblades. “Emma, did you mop in your rollerblades?”
“Yes,” said Emma. “But they are not dirty. These are my inside rollerblades. My outside rollerblades are in the garage.”
Mom made a face. “They look very dirty to me!”
Emma looked down at her rollerblades. She laughed, “Oh no! They are dirty now because I skated over the mud. They were not dirty before.”
Mom looked like she did not believe that. “Well, it looks like you will have to mop again,” she said.
“Noooo!” Emma yelled. “I was so careful!”
Just then, Joey opened the back door and rolled into the room. “Why is Emma yelling?” she asked.
Emma looked at Joey. Then she looked at the floor. “Joey! It was you!”
“What was me? I didn’t do anything. I’ve been cleaning the porch.” Joey started rolling toward Emma.
“Stop! Stop!” Emma yelled. “You are making it worse!”
“What are you talking about?” Joey asked.
Mom laughed. “Your wheels, Joey. Look at your wheels.”
Joey looked at her wheels. They were just as dusty and dirty as the back porch. “Oh,” she said. “I came inside to get a rag. I needed to wash the outside chairs.”
“Well, it looks like you had a dance party in here,” said Emma. She followed the tracks around the couch.
“There wasn’t one in the kitchen drawer,” said Joey. “So I had to roll around the couch to get one off the laundry pile.”
“Laundry!” said Mom. “I forgot we also needed to fold the laundry before our new friend came.”
Knock, knock, knock! Daisy the service dog started barking at the door. She liked barking at the door. When she was working she was not allowed to bark. So it was fun to bark when she was off duty.
“Oh no!” said Mom. “They are here early. And our house is an even bigger mess than it was before!”
“That’s, ok, Mom,” said Emma. I don’t think they came to see the house. I think they came to see us. I will go open the door.”
Mom threw a blanket over the laundry pile. The new friend knocked again. “You are right, Emma. A real friend will like you even when life is a little messy. You can open the door.”
Emma opened the door. “Hi,” she said. “Come on in. It is nice to meet you. I’m glad you are here.” She turned around and looked at Mom with a big smile on her face. “Mom! It’s a new reader! I love it when we get new readers. I know we will have lots of fun together. I think this new reader will be a good friend.”
“I think so, too,” said Mom. “Maybe next time they come the house will be clean.”
“Or maybe not,” Joey said. “But we will be glad to see them whenever they stop by.”