Dad looked up from his computer. "I'm sorry, Wyatt. She must have gotten into it when I went into the kitchen for a few minutes to get her a snack. It's impossible for me to watch her every second while I'm working. I'm so sorry, but you know you need to make allowances for her--after all, she's only two."
Wyatt watched his little sister, now playing quietly in the corner with her teddy bears. I'm tired of always having to 'make allowances' for her, he thought. I have to put up with her wrecking my stuff just because she's a little kid. I sure can't get away with anything like that. "I'm going outside," Wyatt decided. With his space station ruined, he didn't feel like doing anything inside, anyway.
Wyatt sat down on the front step and watched a neighbor walk by with her dog. A few minutes later, Carlos rode up on his bike and stopped on the sidewalk in front of Wyatt's house.
"Hey, Wyatt, come look at this," Carlos called, straddling his bike.
Wyatt jumped up and ran over, crossing the yard quickly.
"I just bought this speedometer for my bike," Carlos said, pointing to the new device mounted on his handlebars.
"That's awesome," Wyatt said, admiring Carlos's cool new speedometer. "I'd love to have one for my bike. Did your parents pay for it?"
"No," Carlos replied. "I saved up my allowance and bought it myself."
"You get an allowance?" Wyatt asked. "What do you have to do for it? Chores and jobs around your house?"
"It doesn't exactly work that way in my family," Carlos explained. "My parents give me money each week just because I'm a member of the family, and I do things to help out just because I'm a member of the family too. I wash dishes and help with the garden, weeding, and watering. I do stuff that takes some of the load off my parents. They're really busy with work and everything."
Wyatt nodded. That sounds like a good system, he thought. I'd like some of my own money to spend, too, instead of always having to ask Mom and Dad to buy stuff for me.
"I'll have to talk to Dad about this idea," Wyatt said. "But what can I do to help out?
"My parents have a yard service for our yard. I'd wash the dishes, but Mom always claims it relaxes her to do them. And I don't think I really want to clean the house. Maybe I can think of something else to do to help my family out."
"I have to go," Carlos said. "See you." He pushed down on his pedals and took off down the street.
After Carlos left, Wyatt headed back inside. As he stepped into the family room, he saw his dad trying to get Lily out of his files.
"Here, Lily, why don't you go color," Dad suggested, holding out crayons.
Lily shook her head. "No want to," she insisted. "Want to play."
"Dad," Wyatt said. "I have an idea. I'd like to get an allowance, so I know I should help out around here. And you need to get your work done, but Lily's always asking you to play with her. Maybe I could play with Lily so you could work."
"That's a great idea, Wyatt," Dad agreed. "Would you really be willing to play with her?"
Wyatt looked at his little sister. I love Lily, he thought, even if she wrecks my stuff. But maybe the problem is that I hardly ever do what she wants to do. Maybe what she wants is to play with me. Maybe then she'd be happier, and then we'd all be happier too. "Yes," Wyatt decided. "I'll color with her and do puzzles--all that little kid stuff. Then you can work, and she'll be happy."
"And you'll get an allowance," Dad added. "That sounds like a great deal for everyone."
"Come on, Lily," Wyatt said, holding out his hand. "Let's go color."
Lily ran to Wyatt and grabbed his hand, smiling up at him. Wyatt smiled back. Making allowances for Lily--playing with her at her level - and making an allowance at the same time is going to be awesome, he decided.
illustrated by Dwane Cude