Sometimes the best gifts are small, folded pieces of paper.

Source :

Tyler smears paint on the kitchen table.Five days till Mom’s birthday. I’m painting her a picture like the one in the shop at the beach. She told Dad she had the perfect spot for it.

Tyler wants to help me. He smears paint on the kitchen table. On the chair. On the floor.

Mom comes to get Tyler for his nap. I hide my picture. Mom scolds me for getting paint on my shirt. Then I hear her say to herself, “No wonder I never get anything done.”

I look at my painting again when she leaves. There is a big handprint in the middle of it. I scrunch it into a tiny ball.

"Is it all right for Tyler to put a worm in his mouth?"Four days till Mom’s birthday. Mom is pulling weeds and talking to Mrs. Perkins over the fence. Tyler is sticking things into his mouth.

“Excuse me,” I say. Mom keeps talking.

“Excuse me!” I say louder this time. “Is it all right for Tyler to put a worm in his mouth?”

Mom sticks her finger into Tyler’s mouth. The worm is still wiggling when she pulls it out. Yuck! She hurries into the house with Tyler.

I’ll pull weeds for Mom’s birthday. She’d like that.

I pick up the hoe. Everything looks the same. Green. How does she know which are weeds? I put away the hoe.

Three days till Mom’s birthday. Mom is talking to Gramma on the phone. “A trip to the mall sounds great,” she says. “If I get my chores done.”

Water gushes to the floor.Goody! I’ll buy Mom a present at the mall. I dump my money onto my bed. That’s when I hear the toilet flush. Tyler?

I run to the bathroom. Mom’s rubber gloves and cleaning rags and most of a box of diapers are floating in the toilet. Water gushes onto the floor.

“Mommmmmmm!” I yell.

Mom picks up Tyler and blows motorcycle sounds on his neck. Tyler giggles. “Guess we won’t be going to the mall today. I’ll get the plunger,” she says.

Maybe I can clean up the mess and tell Mom I did it for her birthday.

Tyler grabs a box of pins. They spill all over the floor.Double yuck! I follow Mom.

Two days till Mom’s birthday. Mom shows her new fabric to Aunt Gayle and says, “Ted is taking me to dinner for my birthday. I was hoping to have a new dress to wear.”

Tyler grabs a box of pins. They spill all over the floor.

Aunt Gayle and I help Mom pick them up. “No wonder you never get anything done,” Aunt Gayle says.

After they leave I pull the fabric out of the bag. I get the pattern, scissors, and pins. Maybe I can make Mom’s birthday dress.

Maybe not. I shove everything back into the cupboard.

Dad's bringing company to dinner in three hours.One more day till Mom’s birthday. A birthday cake! That’s what I’ll make for Mom’s birthday. Chocolate! Her favorite. When Mom puts Tyler down for his nap, I get everything ready. Then the phone rings.

I answer it. “Get Mom! Fast!” Dad says.

Mom listens, then hangs up the phone. “Dad’s bringing company to dinner in three hours.” I put the cake things away and help Mom pick up Tyler’s toys. Then I set the table.I promise to watch Tyler for a little while everyday so you can get something done.  Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today is Mom’s birthday. Tyler pulls a bow off a present and chews on it. Mom opens Dad’s present. She gives him a big kiss. It’s the painting.

Then I give Mom my present. A piece of paper folded very small.

Mom unfolds my paper. Her eyes fill with tears. She picks me up and gives me a hundred hugs and kisses. She says, “This is the best gift of all!”