Kristys book, p.1
THIRTEEN YEARS IN THE LIFE OF KRISTIN AMANDA THOMAS: THE FIRST FIVE INNINGS
BREAKING THE RULES
ON OUR OWN
MY REAL FATHER
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
It was ten o’clock on a sunny Saturday morning. Normally, I play softball, baby-sit, or hang out with my friends on Saturday mornings. But I had a big English project due Monday. All the eighth-graders at my school (Stoneybrook Middle School) have to write autobiographies. So there I was, inside the house on a beautiful day, writing the story of my life from the time I was born until the present. If I was going to hand in the fascinating story of my life on time, I had to work on it all weekend. I felt grumpy as I sat at my desk and opened my notebook.
Suddenly my bedroom door flew open and my seven-year-old stepsister, Karen, ran in. “Karen,” I said, “you’re supposed to knock, remember?”
Karen shushed me with a finger to her lips, sprawled herself on the floor, and wriggled under my bed.
Before I could wonder what she was up to, Andrew burst into my room. Andrew is Karen’s four-year-old brother and my stepbrother. A blue bath towel was tied around his neck like a cape and a pink Halloween mask covered the upper half of his face.
“What’s going on, Batman?” I asked.
“I have to catch the Joker!” Andrew shouted, opening my closet door and looking in.
Then my mother walked into my room asking, “Kristy, honey, have you seen Sam?” Sam’s my fifteen-year-old brother.
“Sam took David Michael to softball practice,” I replied. David Michael is my seven-year-old brother. He plays on my softball team, Kristy’s Krushers. I organized the team for kids who aren’t ready for Little League.
“Why didn’t you take him?” she asked. “Aren’t you going to the Krushers’ practice?”
“I can’t. I have to work on my English project,” I explained.
Mom sat on my bed. “I was going to ask Sam to watch the younger kids while Nannie and I make a hospital visit to Mrs. Randal.”
“Where’s Karen?” Bath-towel Batman demanded of my mother. “She’s the Joker. I have to catch her.”
“I don’t know, Andrew,” my mother answered. “But if she’s the Joker she’s probably hiding from you.”
Just then Nannie, my grandmother, waltzed into my room with Emily. Emily is my two-and-a-half-year-old adopted sister. Shannon, David Michael’s puppy, followed them in and plopped down at my feet. My room was becoming Grand Central Station.
Nannie sat on my bed next to my mother. Emily stood in the middle of my room, looking around. I could tell she was thinking, “Now what can I play with in here?”
I folded a piece of note paper into an airplane and flew it in her direction. “Here, Emily,” I said. “Airplane.”
“Could you baby-sit, Kristy?” my mother asked.
“Mom, I told you I have to —” I was interrupted by Charlie, my oldest brother, who’s seventeen. “Kristy, do you have my Stoneybrook High jacket?”
“I saw it in the backseat of your car yesterday,” I told him.
“Thanks,” he said. “It must still be there.”
He sat on my desk — on top of my notebook. “What’s going on in here?” he asked.
“I was trying to do my homework,” I answered.
“And I’m trying to figure out what to do with the younger children while Nannie and I are out for an hour or so,” my mother added. “Could you watch them, Charlie? We’ll be back by lunchtime.”
Charlie picked up a Spalding ball from my desk and rolled it to Emily. She giggled as she ran for it. “I have an out-of-town football game today,” Charlie said.
Emily held out the ball to Andrew. “Ball,” she informed him.
Bath-towel Batman sat on the floor. Emily plopped down facing him and they started rolling the ball back and forth.
“What about Watson?” I asked. Watson is my stepfather. Karen and Andrew are his kids from his first marriage.
“Watson’s running errands this morning,” Nannie explained. “He’s already left.”
“What about you, Kristy?” my mother asked. “Can you sit?”
“Mo-om!” I moaned. I pointed to the pile of papers and photographs on my desk. “My autobiography?”
“Sorry,” she said. “I forgot.”
“Why didn’t you call the Baby-sitters Club during our meeting yesterday?” I asked. “Then you wouldn’t have this problem.”
“I didn’t know then that I’d need a sitter, Kristy,” my mother said. “Mrs. Randal didn’t plan her heart attack in advance.”
It was my turn to say, “Sorry.”
I did a quick mental review of the schedules of the other members of the Baby-sitters Club. As president of the BSC, I usually have some idea if any of our club members is free to babysit.
Claudia Kishi, our vice-president, had a lot of homework that weekend, too. Claudia would be happy for any excuse not to do homework, though. I had to protect her from distractions — such as a baby-sitting job. So I couldn’t ask Claud.
Stacey McGill, the BSC treasurer, was in New York City for the weekend visiting her dad. So she couldn’t sit.
Abby Stevenson, our alternate officer, lives two doors down from our house, but she had a morning soccer game that day.
Mallory Pike, one of our junior officers, had a job baby-sitting for the Arnolds. And Jessi Ramsey, our other junior member, was rehearsing for a ballet performance at the Stamford Ballet School.
That left Shannon Kilbourne and Logan Bruno, our associate members. Associate members don’t attend meetings or baby-sit as regularly as the rest of us. We call on them only when none of us can sit. But I knew Shannon had an out-of-town debate with the Stoneybrook Day School debate team, and Logan would be at football practice.
I was forgetting someone. It wasn’t Dawn Schafer, a former BSC officer who lived in California now. Then I remembered. Mary Anne Spier — the BSC secretary and my best friend. As far as I knew, Mary Anne had no sitting job that morning. “Why don’t you try Mary Anne?” I suggested.
My mother was lying on my bed and looking up at the ceiling. “Would you call her for me?” she asked. “This is such a comfy bed.”
My mother’s right about my bed. In fact my whole room is “comfy.” It’s huge and full of sunlight, like the rest of the house. Actually, our house is a mansion. It’s three stories high, and has nine bedrooms, and a living room as big as a school gymnasium. Why do we live in a mansion? Well, my stepfather, Watson Brewer, is a real, live millionaire. When Watson and my mother married, our family moved in with him. His kids — Andrew (Batman) and Karen (the Joker) — live with us every other month.
I dialed Mary Anne’s number.
Awhile back if I wanted to talk to Mary Anne I could have just yelled out the window. We grew up in houses next door to one another. The worst thing about moving into Watson’s mansion was moving away from Mary Anne.
Mary Anne answered the phone.
“My mother wondered if you could sit for Karen, Andrew, and Emily for a couple of hours this morning,” I said. “I have to work on my autobiography.”
“Sure,” she replied. I knew we could count on Mary Anne.
I told her tha
“Thanks, Kristy,” my mother said. “I’ll go for her in a minute. I just want to lie here a little longer.”
I looked around my room. Emily and Andrew were still playing ball. Nannie was straightening out my pillows. Charlie was going through the pile of photos I had gathered for my English project. Shannon was chewing on the paper airplane I’d made for Emily. And, I remembered, Karen was still under my bed.
“Look at this,” Charlie said. He showed me an old picture of him, Sam, and me with our father. I’m about Emily’s age in the picture. Sam is standing on one side of our father and Charlie on the other. I’m sitting on our father’s shoulders. “I remember when Mom took that picture,” Charlie said. “We were having a picnic by the river.” Charlie was actually smiling. The picture didn’t make me smile. I don’t like to be reminded of our father and all the happy times we had with him. That’s because he’s not around anymore. Our father abandoned us when we were just kids and David Michael was a baby. Dad didn’t even say good-bye to us or anything. He just disappeared. We learned later that he moved to California and got married again. He doesn’t write or visit like other divorced fathers do. My father hardly even sends me a card on my birthday.
“What are you doing with all these pictures, Kristy?” Charlie asked.
“I have to write my autobiography for English class,” I told him. “It’s due Monday.” I looked around at all the people in my room. “I have to work all weekend or I won’t finish,” I announced loudly. “I might even fail English.”
My mother sat up. “We should all get out of here and let Kristy do her work,” she said to everybody. “Andrew, where’s Karen? I’ll bring you two with me to pick up Mary Anne. We can stop for an ice cream.”
Karen’s muffled voice came from under my bed. “Hooray! Ice cream!” Nannie and Mom jumped.
“Karen’s been hiding there,” I explained with a giggle.
Karen backed out from under the bed. Andrew shouted, “Catch the Joker!”
Nannie scooped up Emily so she wouldn’t be caught in a Batman/Joker battle. And Charlie made a dive for Karen and held her high in the air.
“The Joker is captured,” he announced proudly.
“We caught her!” Bath-towel Batman yelped.
The Joker giggled.
Shannon was leaping around the kids barking her head off.
“You guys!” I cried. “Out of here. All of you.” But no one heard me. They were all laughing too hard.
A few minutes later I was finally alone and my room was quiet. It was time to work on my autobiography. I didn’t mind doing it now, though. Seeing most of my big, crazy family in my room and thinking about the Baby-sitters Club reminded me that I had a wonderful cast of characters in my life story.
My dad was a big Yankee fan so he was pretty excited about this game. And because he’s a sportswriter he was always able to get great seats. When they reached Yankee Stadium they bought hot dogs and sodas and went to their seats. My father was ready to enjoy a great game under the lights. The one thing he hadn’t counted on at this game was me. As soon as the home plate umpire yelled, “Play ball!” I let my mother know I wanted to see the ball game, too. She told my dad that she was having labor pains and that maybe they should go to the hospital.
“It’ll be hours before the baby’s born,” he said. “Why should we hang around a hospital when we can be at Yankee Stadium?”
“You’re right,” she agreed. And they went back to watching the game. But my mom didn’t enjoy it much. She was too busy keeping track of the time between her labor pains.
During the eighth inning my mother said, “Patrick, we have to go to the hospital. Now.”
My dad helped my mother out of the stadium and drove her to the hospital. But they listened to the game on the car radio. At the bottom of the ninth the score was tied and the game went into extra innings. The game was still tied when my mother was admitted to the hospital. By then my dad was probably as interested in who was going to win the game as he was in whether I was going to be a boy or a girl. (The Yankees won that game by one run in the bottom of the thirteenth inning.) If I’d been born in Yankee Stadium I bet they would have given me a lifetime pass!
Like most people I don’t remember being a baby, so I asked my mother if she’d made a baby book about me.
“I’m sorry, Kristy, I didn’t,” she answered. “With three children under the age of five I didn’t have time to write down all the cute things you were doing. I had my hands full just keeping up with you and your brothers. Kristy, from the moment you were born you were an active person, to say the least. I’d lie you down and those little fists would fly up in the air and you’d kick out your feet. We couldn’t even keep a blanket on you.”
I imagined myself as a squirmy, fussy baby. I’ve done enough baby-sitting to know that a fussy baby can be a real pain. “Was I fussy?” I asked my mother.
“Oh, no,” she replied. “You weren’t a crier, just a mover.”
I asked Nannie what she remembered about me as a baby. “Did your mother tell you about when you took your first steps?” Nannie asked.
“Not yet,” I said. “You tell me.”
“Well, even before you were ten months old you were pulling yourself up and walking around the edges of things, like your crib and the coffee table. One Sunday I came to your house for a visit. While your mother made lunch, I sat in the backyard watching you and your brothers. Charlie was teaching Sam how to play catch. You sat on the grass beside me watching the ball going back and forth. When your brothers moved out of your view, you grabbed my chair and pulled yourself up so you could see them. Just then the ball sailed past Sam and rolled to within a few feet of you. You let go of that bench and walked — no, you ran — to the ball. Then you squatted, without falling down, and picked it up. You’re the only baby I’ve known who ran her first steps.”
I don’t remember all this, of course. My first memory is of being held up in the air and looking down at my dad’s smiling face. He would toss and catch me and I would say, “Mo. Mo.” (Translation: More. More.) I don’t remember ever being afraid when my father threw me in the air. I must have trusted him. What a mistake. But more about that later.
Since I’m a person who is known for having brilliant ideas, I’ve been wondering when I started having them. The first one I remember came to me when I was almost five years old.
I was already best friends with Mary Anne and Claudia. Mary Anne and her father lived next door. (Mary Anne’s mother died when Mary Anne was a baby.) Claudia lived across the street with her parents, her sister Janine (who is a real genius) and her grandmother, Mimi. Claudia, Mary Anne, and I played together whenever we could.
One Saturday I woke up to see the world sparkling with a heavy blanket of snow. I couldn’t wait to be playing in that fluffy stuff with Claudia and Mary Anne. Our parents agreed that we could play in the snow together and that they would supervise us from their windows. It was a perfect day to be outside. The sky was clear, there was no wind, and it wasn’t too cold. Many of our neighbors were shoveling their walks and driveways. My best friends and I ran around in my front yard, threw snowballs, made angels, and generally had the great time kids have in the snow. Then we made a snowman. While we played, Charlie was making money shoveling snow for our neighbors.
We were finishing up our snowman when Claudia told us that the next day was her grandmother’s birthday. We all loved Mimi and decided we wanted to give her a present. But none of us had any money. I thought, If we were big enough to shovel walks like Charlie, we could make money to buy Mimi a present.
Our snowman turned out pretty well. Actually, it was a snowwoman. She had a carrot nose, walnut eyes, a yellow tennis ball mouth, and a plastic flower wreath on her head. Several of our neighbors stopped to admire our snowwoman. One neighbor, Mrs. Goldman, said, “I remember when my nieces and nephews used to make snowmen. I used to love
We looked over at Mrs. Goldman’s lawn. It was a blanket of pure snow. Not one footstep! “Let’s make her a snowwoman,” I suggested. Mary Anne and Claudia thought that was a terrific idea. We began at the edge of the lawn. Each of us made a snowball and rolled it toward the center of the lawn. As we pushed our growing balls, we walked behind them so we wouldn’t mess up the rest of the snow. We met in the center of the lawn, then we piled the three balls on top of one another. It was time for the finishing touches. I ran to my house to get another old tennis ball and a baseball cap. Mary Anne raided her kitchen for more walnuts, and Claudia went to her house for the carrot.
As we were sticking the hat on the Goldman snowwoman, Mrs. Goldman drove into her driveway. She jumped out of her car and exclaimed, “Look at that. You made me a snowwoman!” After admiring our work she handed each of us a dollar.
That’s when my first really great idea popped into my head. “We can use this money to buy Mimi a present,” I told my friends. “It’ll be a surprise.” When Mrs. Goldman heard what we were using the money for she gave us each another dollar! We weren’t the only ones on Bradford Court who loved Claudia’s grandmother.
“Hey, girls,” Mr. Randolph called from across the street, “how about making one of those for the missus and me? We’re having friends over for dinner and it would be a hoot to have a snowwoman great them.”
Claudia, Mary Anne, and I giggled. We were in the snowperson-building business! Mrs. Goldman helped us cross the street and we began rolling snowperson body parts on the Randolph front lawn. I noticed Mrs. Goldman on the sidewalk talking to Mr. Randolph. I’m sure she told him that we were trying to earn money for a present for Mimi, because when he gave each of us two dollars he said, “Now pick out something nice for Mimi. She’s a special lady.”
After lunch we were hired to make two more snowpersons. The first one was for Ms. Johnson. She helped us make the snowman, but she still paid us. “Mimi is terrific,” she said. “When I had the flu last winter she checked on me every day. She did my grocery shopping, too.” Ms. Johnson gave us ten dollars toward Mimi’s present.