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If I Have to be Normal

Written by Juliana Jones

Illustrated by Clara Batton Smith


Chelsea found Dad slicing apples in the kitchen. She tugged on his shirttail. “I’m hungry.”

“Well, you should be. It’s already noon and you didn’t eat breakfast.”

“Can I have tuna fish, peanut butter and olives on graham crackers?”

Dad’s nose crumpled.

Chelsea giggled at his funny face. “What about popcorn, pickles and peanut butter on pumpernickel bread?”

He snorted. “You’re being silly. How about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on wheat bread? You can have apple slices for dessert!”

Chelsea rolled her eyes. “Okay, if I have to be normal.”

After she gobbled up her lunch, she went back to her room to read. She glanced out her window at the kids playing across the street, but continued to read adventures found in her book. Dad knocked on her door. “Your friends are here to play with you.”

“I don’t want to play today. I just want to read.”

“Reading’s great, honey, but you’ve been at it for hours. How about giving your eyes a break and go work your muscles?”

“My brain’s a muscle.”

“I’m talking about your leg muscles.” Dad looked at her intently, his mouth a little wrinkled dot.

Chelsea rolled her eyes. “Okay, if I have to be normal.” She put on her jacket and joined her friends outside. They jumped in the leaves and played kickball.

Dusk fell and Chelsea’s friends went home, but she continued to play on her tire swing. She hummed some tunes to herself and created adventures in her head.

From the kitchen window Dad yelled, “How about dinner?”

She took a look around at her dark surroundings. She sighed. “Okay, if I have to be normal.”

Chelsea rinsed her hands quickly under the bathroom faucet. She sat at the table across from Dad and put her head down on the table. “My head hurts.”

“It’s no wonder. You haven’t had anything to drink since you’ve been outside.” He handed her a glass of water. “Start listening to your body.”

Chelsea put her left arm up to her ear and grinned. “I don’t hear anything.”

Dad laughed. “Let’s get serious. Why do you think it’s important to pay attention to your body?

Chelsea thought, swinging her right foot back and forth. She drank the water and felt better. “I guess so I don’t get tired or have a headache.”

“That’s right. It’s so your body stays in balance.” Dad picked up her not-so-clean hand and grimaced. “And part of that balance is staying clean.”

“I’ll eat. But I don’t want to wash up.”

“Chelsea, you’ve spent all day reading and playing. Once you finish eating, it’s time to take a bath.”

Chelsea crossed her arms over her chest.

“Your skin and hair have tiny things on them that could make you sick.”

Chelsea squinted at her arm. “I don’t see anything.”

“They are there. Trust me. Now finish eating and scoot.”

Chelsea giggled and rolled her eyes. “Okay, if I have to be normal.”


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