Written and Illustrated by David Clyde Walters
Dogs are lucky because they don’t need to worry about fashions and trends as much as Ellen does. At school, it seems that someone is always getting something new. Often it’s some new type of clothing, or it could be a new kind of pen or pencil, and sometimes it’s a new lunchbox or backpack. Over the years, different things have become really popular like the Hoola-Hoop, a Slinky, the Rubics Cube, Cabbage-patch Dolls, Pogs, and sports cards, Fidget Spinners and stuff like that.
Well, for some crazy reason, the latest new, cool thing at Ellen’s school were hair clips. That’s right, everyday it seemed like someone else came to school with new clips in her hair. The boys didn’t seem to notice that much. They were too busy catching bugs or kicking and throwing things to notice all the cute hair clips that the girls were wearing at school. Ellen didn’t have any of the new hair clips but that didn’t mean she didn’t want them. She sure did. And, if she didn’t get some pretty soon, she told Wire Dog that she was worried that she would be the only girl in the whole school without them.
Often, cool, popular girls have cool popular things, and that was the case with these new hair clips at Ellen’s school. To have one in your hair was about the neatest thing you could imagine. Only some of the girls in the school had these neat hair clips – most didn’t.
Ellen didn’t have any yet and neither did her friend, Becky. They both wanted the hair clips but they were afraid to ask their parents to buy them because the clips were quite expensive and plenty of families didn’t have enough extra money for things like that.
Ellen wanted a pair more than just about anything. She even told Wire Dog all about them, but he just tilted his head and scratched his ear. He didn’t seem to understand.
One day, when Ellen was in a store she saw a really nice pair of the clips. As she looked at them, she imagined how neat it would be to own them and to wear them to school. She wondered what Becky and the other girls would think if she had even one of those clips in her hair.
Just then her mother came up and asked Ellen if she was ready to go. I don’t know if her mother knew what Ellen was thinking or if her mother understood how popular the hair clips were, but Ellen’s mother was once a girl too and she probably had some idea of what Ellen was thinking. But even though Ellen’s mother loved her dearly, she knew that there was not enough money in the family budget for something like that, so rather than start a conversation that would just end up hurting Ellen’s feelings, her mother tenderly smiled and told Ellen that it was time to go. Ellen took one last look at the clips, then lowered her eyes and walked away with her mother.
A few days later, Ellen was at home playing with Wire Dog but he could tell that her mind was somewhere else. Dogs can tell things like that. It was clear to him that she was day-dreaming about the clips. Her mother also noticed the faraway look in Ellen’s eyes and finally asked what she was thinking about. Then Ellen told her mother the whole story. She explained how popular the clips were with some of the girls at school, and then she asked her mother if she thought they could buy even just one pair. It was difficult for Ellen’s mother to tell her that they just didn’t have enough money right now for such things. She explained to Ellen that there was food to buy and rent to pay and lots of other family expenses and that at the end of each month there was never anything left over. She also reminded Ellen that at the first of the year she had promised that if she could have a certain new jacket, she would not ask for another new thing for the whole school year. Ellen now remembered that promise and so she said, “Yes Mother,” and she let it go.
More time went by and a few more girls got clips and Ellen couldn’t seem to get them out of her mind.
Then one day at home Ellen had an idea. She asked her mother if she could earn a little money by herself. She said she would give her mother some of the money to help pay for some of the family expenses if she could use some of it to buy a pair of hair clips. Her mother thought about it for a moment. Then, when she saw how sincere Ellen looked, she agreed.
That very day Ellen started to think of ways she could make a little money. She got a babysitting job, did some house cleaning and her Grandmother helped her bake some cookies that she sold with her Grandmother at a street market. Ellen gave most of the money to her mother but she finally had enough to buy a package containing two hair clips.
Ellen could hardly wait to go to school and show her friends the new clips. She had not told any of them about her money making plans.
When Ellen went to school the next day with one of the clips in her hair, she waited for her friend Becky to say something. When Becky saw the clip in Ellen’s hair she just looked at it for a while but she didn’t say anything. Ellen waited. Then Becky said. “I can’t believe you are wearing one of those silly old clips. They will go out of style, you know. Soon all the cool girls will stop wearing them and then only the girls that wish they were cool will be wearing them.”
With that Becky turned and walked away. Ellen just stood there. She didn’t know what to think or say or do. She tried not to cry. Finally, she reached up and slowly pulled the clip out of her hair and hid it in her closed hand, as a little tear ran down her cheek.
A teacher that was standing not very far away saw and heard most of what had just happened. She came over and told Ellen not to be too upset by what Becky had said. She explained to Ellen that it was true that those hair clips would go out of style some day, but that they certainly were not out of style yet. She said that Becky probably was just jealous or sad because she didn’t have one. The teacher told Ellen that her clip looked really nice; and that she was lucky to have one and that she should put it back in her hair.
Ellen nodded her head but she couldn’t find any words to say to the teacher. She just looked at the floor and tried to hold back her tears. She held the clip tightly in one hand and touched the one in her pocket with her other hand.
The teacher then walked down the hall to where the other girls were gathered. She asked Becky if she could talk to her alone. As they walked together down the hall, the teacher first asked Becky if she liked Ellen as a friend. Becky replied that of course she liked Ellen, and said that everyone liked Ellen because she was so nice. The teacher then asked Becky why she would say such a mean thing to a friend. Becky just put her head down and said, “I don’t know.” The teacher then asked if she thought her words made Ellen happy.
Becky slowly answered, “probably not.”
The teacher then asked if saying those things to Ellen made Becky happy.
Becky looked up and said, “I guess I thought it would, but it didn’t really.
The teacher then explained to Becky that when someone else has something that we can’t have, we often feel a little jealous. sometimes we might even wish they didn’t have it, but that is just a selfish attitude that doesn’t really help anyone. If one person is feeling bad it doesn’t help to make two people feel that way. The teacher then told Becky that if she wanted to be a true friend, she should go to Ellen, tell her she was sorry, and be happy that Ellen had a hair clip. That way two people could be happy rather than two people being sad.
Becky didn’t have the courage to talk to Ellen that day, but she thought about it that night and realized that the teacher was right. She really did want to be Ellen’s friend and just because she didn’t have a hair clip herself, was no reason to keep Ellen from having one and enjoying it.
So the next day at school Becky went straight to Ellen and told her she was sorry. She admitted that she only said the clips were going out of style because she was a little jealous that she didn’t have one. She hoped Ellen would forgive her and still be her friend.
Ellen then told Becky it was all her fault and explained that she had earned enough money to but two clips and had planned all along to give one to Becky so they could wear them to school together. She was waiting for Becky to say how neat the clip looked and then she was going to surprise her by pulling the other one out of her pocket and handing it to her. When Becky said they were silly and would soon go out of style, Ellen didn’t know what to say or do, so she just kept the other clip in her pocket.
When Becky heard that she was in shock. She looked at Ellen for a moment and neither girl knew what to say. Then they both gave each other a big hug and the next day at school the two girls were seen walking down the hallway together, each with a pretty new clip in their hair.
When Ellen got home from school that day, she told Wire Dog all about it.