“Great job, Daniel!” Mom exclaimed from the porch. “That grass needed cutting, didn’t it?”
Daniel felt all jiggled and sore from pushing the mower so long, but it had been worth it. He grinned at Mom and said, “Just thought I’d do it since Chad’s gone.” Chad was over at Uncle Albert’s for the week, and it made Daniel feel special to be Mom’s big helper. “Need anything else done?” he asked.
“Dad hasn’t fixed the pantry door yet. Do you think you can handle it?”
“Sure, Mom. I know where the tools are.” He hurried to find Rosie. “I need you to hold the pantry door for me,” he said, and went to get the electric drill and Dad’s old work apron.
“You look like a really truly carpenter,” Rosie said as she watched him climb on the stepladder. Daniel carefully unscrewed the old hinge and thought how fun it was to be the oldest boy in the family. He could do lots more things and wasn’t told he was just a little boy all the time.
“You know what I’d like best?” he told Rosie after a few minutes. “I’d like to go on the mountain biking trip with Dad.”
“Doesn’t Chad mostly go with him?” Rosie asked.
“Chad always goes,” Daniel said, two screws pinched between his teeth. “But I think I’m ’bout big enough now.”
“Maybe there aren’t enough bikes,” Rosie said. “Are they going soon?”
“In two weeks,” Daniel said, and turned on the drill. It screeched as it chewed through the wood, but he was careful to hold it steady. Maybe there is a way I can go, he thought to himself.
The rest of that week Daniel kept busy. He didn’t always like the extra work he had to do, but he didn’t tell anyone. When Mom said, “I like having a ‘Right-hand Man’ like you around,” after he had dug up her flowerbed and oiled the squeaky hinges on the gate, Daniel just smiled. He thought his plan would work if he could show them that he did things just as well as Chad.
“Daniel’s been my ‘Right-hand Man’ this week,” Mom said when Chad got home. Daniel felt a glad feeling in his middle.
“He even fixed the pantry door that was falling off,” Dad said. Daniel grinned.
But he didn’t feel like grinning a few nights later when Chad began talking about the biking trip. “It’s for three days up to Smoky Peak this time. I think my new knapsack will be perfect. I’m goin’ to see if Ronald can fix up his dad’s old mountain bike and come along.” Daniel stopped listening. He tried to think of something nice, but all he thought was, If only, if only….
When Daniel woke up the next morning, he found that Chad was sick. Daniel almost felt like singing when he did his brother’s chores that morning. All day he worked hard while Chad lay in bed, sick with the flu. If only Chad is sick for five more days, he thought, but no, he would have to forget about it.
But Chad got over the flu in three days, and Daniel couldn’t forget about it. Not when he watched Chad pack up his knapsack and get out the maps. Not when he and Dad began planning out their route at the kitchen table. Daniel knew he was being unfair, but he felt grouchy. It didn’t seem to matter how he behaved anymore.
The day before the trip Mom took him aside. “What has happened to my ‘Right-hand Man’?” she asked gently.
“It doesn’t seem to matter how I do things,” Daniel muttered. “No one thinks I’m big enough and it just isn’t fair.”
“What’s not fair?”
“That I can’t go on the biking trip. Even though I can do things just like Chad, you only want me to work, and—”
But Mom cut him short. “Daniel, is that the only reason you’ve worked so hard?” She sounded disappointed. “That’s a rather poor motive for doing it.” Daniel sat still and looked at his hands.
“Look here,” Mom said, “don’t you think you would be happier if you ask Jesus to make you a good worker for Him, instead of working to get something for yourself?” Daniel didn’t want to give up his way, but he thought about what Mom said. At last he looked up.
“Mom,” he said slowly, “I’m sorry about it, and I do want to be your helper, but it’s hard to be just ‘the little boy’ all the time.”
“Oh, Daniel,” Mom said, and gave him a squeeze, “I don’t want just ‘the little boy’ around. I want my ‘Right-Hand Man,’ and I know you can be one if you ask Jesus to help you.”