Excerpted from Melanie Martin Goes Dutch by Carol Weston Copyright © 2003 by Carol Weston. Excerpted by permission of Yearling, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Dear Brand New Diary,
I can’t believe it!
This was the best day EVER!
School is out, and I, Melanie Martin, am almost a fifth grader.
Today at the end-of-fourth-grade party, everybody said my cupcakes were delicious—even Christopher.
Yesterday after we baked, Mom helped me hide them on top of the refrigerator so Dad wouldn’t accidentally eat any. Why? Because last time I made cupcakes, Dad gobbled one up without asking permission—and I ended up with twenty cupcakes for twenty-one kids. The next day on the walk to school, I was balancing my cupcake tray and hoping hoping hoping someone would be absent.
Trust me. It does not make you feel proud of yourself to be hoping that someone in your class is stuck at home sneezing or barfing. It makes you feel like a bad person. But when you don’t have enough cupcakes to go around, everybody except you gets a cupcake, and you have to sit at your desk pretending you didn’t want one anyway.
I am not that good a person!
Anyway, today was perfect. I brought in the right number of cupcakes, the party was fun, and even Miss Sands was in a great mood. Plus, it was a half day, so we got out at 12:00 instead of 3:00! And almost no homework until September!!
(I wrote “almost” because we have to read “at least one long book” and write “at least a hundred words” about what we learned from it.)
The best thing about vacation is that Cecily and I can spend every minute together and have a ton of sleepovers. And not just on weekends!
Mom loves summer vacation too. She just started a five hundred-piece puzzle of a painting of sunflowers. She says puzzles are her “summertime relaxation.”
She also says that the only thing she loves more than teaching is vacationing. She says it’s much easier to keep track of two kids than a whole class.
I wonder if that’s true.
After all, one of her kids is Matt the Brat.
Melanie Martin, Almost Fifth Grader
afternoon on the sofa
Is this going to be a bummer summer?
School has been out for only a week, and—even though I would never admit this to anybody—I sort of miss it. I don’t mean waking up early or doing homework or Miss Sands. I mean lunch, recess, art, music, P.E., library, and my friends.
Cecily hasn’t been around at all. She’s been with her dad. She sent me a postcard from Washington, D.C.
I wish my family would go somewhere.
I wish Cecily would come back.
At home, it’s just me and Matt the Brat.
Of all the brothers in the world, I can’t believe mine is Matt. When baby boys were being given out, Mom and Dad obviously got in the wrong line. (I think they got into the reptile line.)
To be perfectly honest, Matt and I were actually starting to get along this spring. But then he got seriously annoying again.
He loves to play games. He has ever since he was two. Maybe even before that. He used to sit in his diaper and play “How big is Maaaaaaatt?” “Sooooooo big!” all day long with a dopey two-tooth smile on his face.
Now all he ever wants to do is play Clue Jr. He lives to shout, “Mortimer Mustard hid the bird in the bank!” or “Polly Peacock hid the turtle in the wig shop!”
It gets old.
Or maybe I’m getting old for junior games.
Last night I mumbled to Dad that I was bored.
“Bored?!” Dad said with absolutely no sympathy. “I can think of plenty of things for you to do.” So he made me put away dishes and alphabetize his CDs and do a million trillion chores.
Chores chores chores! I was going to accuse him of child abuse, but he would have rolled his eyes and said, “Melanie, pleeeease!”
Once, I did say, “Child abuse! Child abuse!” on the subway and Dad got mad and said it’s no joke and what if police officers had taken me seriously? He said I should appreciate the parents I have.
Personally, I think my parents should appreciate me—and understand that I need to be with kids my own age.
My own age: ten and a half. Not Matt’s age: six and a half.
Melanie the Misunderstood
morning in Dad’s BIG soft chair
Cecily gets back today!
I just called her but I wish I hadn’t. When I said, “Is Cecily there?” instead of saying a simple “No,” Cecily’s mom said, “Melanie, it’s more polite to say, ‘Hello, Mrs. Hausner, this is Melanie. May I please speak to Cecily?’”
I mumbled, “Okay.” But I felt like saying, “I wasn’t calling to get a manners lesson. I was calling to talk to my best friend.”
Cecily’s mom is usually pretty nice. I like when she invites me for dinner or to a movie. And I like that she always has big bags of marshmallows and little bags of M&M’s just for us. And I like that last week she helped us have a book sale on Broadway and we both made fifteen dollars.
I don’t like that she’s strict about making us take off our shoes and hang up our sweaters. I also don’t like that I have to call her Mrs. Hausner when Cecily gets to call my mom Miranda. (Not that Cecily ever does. She never really calls her anything.)
Anyway, right now I am trying to write, but Matt found some of that plastic bubbly wrap that Mom uses for delicate objects and he put it on the floor and started driving all over it on his scooter. He says he’s not stopping until he has popped every last bubble.
It sounds like firecrackers.
Matt also has tongue twisters on the brain. He made me say “unique New York, unique New York, unique New York” over and over, so I told him to say “I’m a silly little idiot” five times fast. Then I said, “Matt, if you want to be annoying, go into your room.”
He said, “It’s no fun being annoying by myself.”
Yours with a sigh
From the Trade Paperback edition.