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Treasures of the Kingdom, Number 39 (April 2006) | Timeless Truths Publications

The Playhouse Problem

“Mama, can I have the old garden shed for a playhouse?” Rosie asked one spring morning. “I want to fix it up really nice and plant flowers around it.”

“That sounds like a lovely plan, Rosie dear,” Mom said, “but you had better check with Dad.” The boys had been helping Dad put up a new metal shed, and Dad said she could have the old one when all the tools were moved out. Rosie was delighted. She began to plan how she would fix it up right away.

The playhouse idea had come to her when the Larsons moved in next door. Lexie Larson was a spoiled little girl, just about Emma’s age, and she wasn’t very careful. In five minutes she had ruined the play store that the girls had set up in the living room.

“Lexie doesn’t know how to play nicely, but we must still be kind,” Mom had said. “If she comes again we must find some different toys for her to play with.”

“Now we can have a playhouse where Lexie won’t come and mess it up,” Rosie told Emma as they looked inside the shed. Two wooden shelves crossed one side and a couple knot holes in the back let in some light.

“What are you going to put in here?” Emma asked.

“Our little table and chairs will fit over here,” Rosie said, standing in one corner. “And if we clean up the shelves, we can have them for a bed and put our dolls on them.”

“And our doll dishes?” asked Emma.

“Let’s put those on the top shelf. It can be the kitchen shelf, because only the mom can do the cooking and it is high up,” suggested Rosie.

All afternoon Rosie worked on cleaning out the shed and setting up the playhouse. Mom had an old floor mat that she could use, and Daniel offered to make the bottom shelf wider for “a real bed.” At last the little house was complete and even Irene said it looked quite nice.

“I can make a mattress for your bed,” she offered.

“Oh, that would be nice! Thank you, Irene,” said Rosie. “Now, I just wish that there was a door.”

“I could tack up a sheet,” said Irene. Rosie agreed that it would be better than nothing, but she still felt uneasy. A sheet wouldn’t keep out a nosy little four-year-old like Lexie.

The trouble started the following week when Rosie came back from her piano lessons. “Emma, do you want to play in my new house?” Rosie asked. Emma grabbed her dolls and followed Rosie out to the playhouse. But something was wrong. A chair was knocked over and the mattress had dirt on it.

“Did Lexie come in here?” Rosie asked in dismay, remembering that Irene had babysat the little girl that morning.

“I told her she couldn’t come in, but she did,” Emma sniffed.

“Why were you playing in it?” Rosie asked sharply. She didn’t mean to sound angry, but she was upset that someone had let Lexie in.

“I w-wanted to pl-play in it n-nicely,” Emma stammered, looking at the rug.

“Well, you had better not play in it unless I’m here,” Rosie said with a frown. “Remember, we want to keep this playhouse nice and pretty.” She set up the chair again and brushed off the dirt. “At least we can play house now,” she said more cheerfully. “We need some blankets for our bed and maybe Mom will let us have some cookies and milk.”

“I’ll go ask!” Emma offered and ran to the house.

Rosie was sweeping off the rug with her little broom when she thought she heard a noise by the fence. She looked up just in time to see Lexie disappear through the hedge in the Larson’s yard. “That little rascal! She was watching us,” Rosie muttered to herself. “I wish she never would come over here again.” Remember, God wants you to love her, even if she doesn’t play nicely, a small voice whispered. “I’ll be nice, but she just can’t play in here,” Rosie said aloud.

The girls were just setting out their cookies and milk when Mom called them to come inside. “We will have to come back and finish later,” Rosie told Emma. Then she looked around. Was there any way to block the door better, just in case Lexie came without being invited? She grabbed a big board that was lying on the grass and leaned it across the doorway before following her little sister to the house.

“Grandpa called and said he would be stopping by in fifteen minutes,” Mom told the girls. “I need you both to clean up the living room.” Rosie sighed as she surveyed the Legos and train cars all over the carpet, with Kyle in the middle of it. Usually he didn’t make such a mess. Was it Lexie again? Why can’t people teach their children to clean up? Rosie grumbled to herself as she began gathering up the Legos.

Grandpa stayed through supper and Rosie forgot all about the tea party in the playhouse until Emma mentioned it the next afternoon.

“Let’s go and eat it now,” Rosie said quickly. A strange feeling came into her middle when they came in sight of the playhouse. The board in front was knocked over.

Emma pushed aside the curtain and stopped short. Rosie looked over her head and gasped. There sat Lexie eating at their table! She stuffed the rest of a cookie in her mouth when she saw them and glared. Rosie glared back. Dollies and blankets were lying all over the carpet and the bed had fallen in. It was a horrible mess. Emma reached down and picked up her doll, brushing crumbs out of its hair.

“What are you doing in our playhouse?” Rosie asked coldly. Her throat felt tight and her hands wanted to grab Lexie and pull her hair. But she didn’t.

“I just wanted to play here,” Lexie said loudly, tossing her head. “My mom said I can come. I like eating cookies in here.” She stood up and reached for the cookie dish on the shelf, but Rosie pushed it out of her reach.

“You’re mean!” Lexie screeched, and slapped Rosie on the arm. Rosie wanted to slap her right back, but she knew that she mustn’t. That wouldn’t be right. Oh, what can I do? How can I be nice to Lexie when she is so mean? Rosie wondered as she bit her lip to hold back the tears.

Lexie was throwing such a fit that Irene came running. “What’s the matter? I could hear you clear from the house!” she said, looking at the fallen bed and the girls’ upset faces.

Lexie stopped howling and said, “I wanna cookie and she won’t give me it!”

“Well,” Irene said slowly. “I guess you haven’t learned the secret code yet.” She looked at Rosie and winked. The politeness code, Rosie thought. Lexie needs to learn how to behave before she can ever play here.

Suddenly Rosie had an idea. “That’s right, Lexie. If you know the secret code you can come in and play house with us nicely.”

“What code?” Lexie demanded.

“Maybe you should go to the house with Irene so she can tell it to you,” Rosie said. Irene held out her hand and Lexie went outside.

“It starts with being really quiet,” Rosie heard Irene whisper.

“Okay,” Lexie whispered loudly.

Rosie smiled at Emma. “We can fix it all up again while they are gone,” she said.