From Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul 2

The Potato Puppy

My four-year-old son, Shane, had been asking for a puppy for over a month, but his daddy kept saying, “No dogs! A dog will dig up the garden and chase the ducks and kill our rabbits. No dog, and that’s final!”

Each night Shane prayed for a puppy, and each morning he was disappointed when there was no puppy waiting outside.

I was peeling potatoes for dinner, and he was sitting on the floor at my feet asking for the thousandth time, “Why won’t Daddy let me have a puppy?”

“Because they are a lot of trouble. Don’t cry. Maybe Daddy will change his mind someday,” I encouraged him.

“No, he won’t, and I’ll never have a puppy in a million years,” Shane wailed.

I looked into his dirty, tear-streaked face. How could we deny him his one wish? So I said the words that were first spoken by Eve, “I know a way to make Daddy change his mind.”

“Really?” Shane wiped away his tears and sniffed.

I handed him a potato.

“Take this and carry it with you until it turns into a puppy,” I whispered. “Never let it out of your sight for one minute. Keep it with you all the time, and on the third day, tie a string around it and drag it around the yard and see what happens!”

Shane grabbed the potato with both hands. “Mama, how do you make a potato into a puppy?” He turned it over and over in his little hands.

“Shh! It’s a secret!” I whispered and sent him on his way.

“Lord, you know what a woman must do to keep peace in her home!” I prayed.

Shane faithfully carried his potato around for two days; he slept with it, bathed with it and talked to it.

On the third day I said to my husband, “We really should get a pet for Shane.”

“What makes you think he needs a pet?” My husband leaned against the doorway.

“Well, he’s been carrying a potato around with him for days. He calls it Wally and says it is his pet. He sleeps with it on his pillow, and right now he has a string tied to it and he’s dragging it around the yard,” I said.

“A potato?” my husband asked and looked out the window and watched Shane taking his potato for a walk.

“It will break his heart when the potato gets mushy and rots,” I said and started getting out food for lunch. “Besides, every time I try to peel potatoes for dinner, Shane cries because he says I’m killing Wally’s family.”

“A potato?” my husband asked. “My son has a pet potato?”

“Well,” I said shrugging, “you said he couldn’t have a puppy. He was so disappointed, in his mind, he decided he had to have a pet. . . . ”

“That’s crazy!” my husband said.

“Maybe you’re right, but explain to me why he is dragging that potato around the yard on a string,” I said.

My husband watched our son for a few more minutes.

“I’ll bring home a puppy tonight. I’ll stop by the animal shelter after work. I guess a puppy can’t be that much trouble,” he sighed. “It’s better than a potato.”

That night Shane’s daddy brought home a wiggling puppy and a pregnant white cat that he took pity on while he was at the shelter.

Everyone was happy. My husband thought he’d saved his son from a nervous breakdown. Shane had a puppy, a cat and five kittens and believed his mother had magic powers that could change a potato into a puppy. And I was happy because I got my potato back and cooked it for dinner.

Everything was perfect until one evening when I was cooking dinner, Shane tugged on my dress and asked, “Mama, do you think I could have a pony for my birthday?”

I looked into his sweet little face and said, “Well, first we have to take a watermelon. . . .”

Linda Stafford

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