“Time for SongBirds.” Miss Kelly said.
“Oh no!” Joe looked up at her bright red hair and freckled face. He quickly lowered his eyes hoping she would take no notice of him. He hated singing. The last time she called on him to sing he croaked like a frog. The class laughed, but Miss Kelly was mad. Her freckled face became almost as red as her hair. She made him sit on the bench during recess.
Then there was the time he sang the song his father taught him, called Little Bo Peep. “Little Bo Peep washed her feet and then nobody knew how to find her.” He had to sit on the bench for recess for that one.
So Joe kept his eyes down and looked at the top of his desk. He did not even want to play with Mary Lee’s hair. It was very long and always hung over the back of her seat and on to his desk. When Miss Kelly was not looking, he would tie knots in Mary Lee’s hair or put he would put little pieces paper in her hair. It was fun to watch Mary Lee go home with her hair looking like a trash heap.
“But not today. I’m not doing anything to make Miss Kelly notice me now.”
“Who wants to be first?” Miss Kelly asked. She waited for someone to raise their hand.
“I will.” Gail said. She shyly stood up then moved to the front of the class. Her hair was cut short for a girl, but Joe liked her any way.
“She’d make a nice girl friend,” he thought. “Wait a minute. I can’t even have a bicycle. How am I going to have a girl friend?” He let out a sigh. “I guess I’ll settle for just walking her to school and back.” Sometimes he even carried her books for her.
“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound . . .” She sang her song softly and sweetly and then sat down.
“That’s cheating.” Joe thought. “She learned that in her church.”
Miss Kelly walked to wall chart and next to Gail’s name and colored in a little blue song bird. She now had seven.
“Joseph, would you like to try sing a song this time?” Miss Kelly asked him. He felt a nervous knot grow in his stomach.
“What do you think?” The voice inside him answered.
“O.K.” He said, wisely. The voice inside him said a lot of bad things, but he seldom said them out loud.
“That voice inside me is going to get me in a lot trouble someday.” He got up and nervously walked to the front of the class. “I don’t want Gail to know I’m scared.”
Joe coughed and cleared his throat. A couple of students giggled. They must have thought he was going to be silly again. He tried to be serious this time.
He looked at Miss Kelly. She gave him an encouraging smile, so he began.
“Buy a Ford. Buy a Ford. Buy a Ford today. If you can’t afford a Ford, buy a Chevrolet. Hey!”
Joe sat down quickly. Miss Kelly had a funny look on her face, but at least she did not get mad.
“Very nice, Joseph. Where did you hear that song?”
“My Cousin George.” He said meekly.
“I bet your cousin George teaches you a lot of things, doesn’t he?”
Joe just shook his head up and down. Miss Kelly walked to the wall chart and colored in a blue song bird next to his name. Joe was not sure what to think.
“Well, at least I didn’t get yelled at.” His inner voice told him.