Katie’s Tongue

Ephesians 6:1

Four year old Katie stood at the window

looking down the road. Her large blue

eyes were filled with excitement. Her

golden brown hair was pulled smoothly

into two small braids. She hated the way it

felt, all smooth and tight to her head. As

she stood at the window she reached up to

one side and pulled at the ribbon. As soon

as the braid was loose, she pulled out the

ribbon on the other side. She loved to feel

her hair loose and falling down her back

in unruly waves. She shook her head so

she could feel the loose hair slap at her


But she wasn’t really thinking about her

hair right now. Why didn’t Papa come?

He had been gone to town all day long.

Soon it would be supper time and Katie

was hoping Papa would bring a letter from

grandma. Just then she saw the horses

come over the top of the hill and start

down the long stretch of road to the house.

Papa was sitting straight and tall on the

wagon seat.

Leaving the window, Katie ran to the

kitchen. “Mama! Mama! Papa is coming!”

she yelled as ran through the kitchen.

“Katie! Do not run—” But the door

slammed before she could finish. Katie

knew what mama was about to say and

she didn’t care. Mama was always telling

her not to do things. Don’t run in the

house, don’t stick your tongue between

your teeth, don’t pull your braids out,

don’t slam the door, don’t yell in the

house. She knew mama would put her on

the chair in the corner for running and

slamming the door, but right now she

didn’t care.

She stood on one foot then the other as

Papa pulled the horses up in front of the

door. “Papa, papa, did we get a letter?”

“Yes we did, Katie girl.” His stern face

relaxed into a smile as she jumped up and


“Give it to me! Give it to me, Papa! Is it

from grandma?”

“Yes, it’s from grandma.” Papa climbed

down from the wagon and tied the reigns

to the post in front of the door. Then he

turned and took an envelope out of his


“Here it is. Your mama will be very

glad, we haven’t heard from grandma for

a long time.”

Eagerly she followed papa into the kitchen.

 He kissed mama and handed her the

letter. Her eyes lit up. “Oh, John, it’s been

so long since we’ve had a letter from my

family in Portland.”

Then she caught sight of Katie. “Katie!”

She sighed. “You have disobeyed me

again. You know better than to run in the

house and slam the door. What is it going

to take for you to learn to listen? You’ve

even pulled your braids out again, for the

fifth time today. I am going to have to put

you on the chair again.”

Katie looked at her feet. “I’m sorry

mama,” she said in a small voice. “I was

excited about papa coming home and I


Papa looked at her sternly. “To forget is

not an excuse. You are to mind your mother

 and listen to what she tells you.” He

took a chair and set it facing into the


“Now, you sit here until supper.”

Katie sat on the chair and stared at the

wall. It wasn’t the first time she had been

sat in the corner for not listening. It

happened several times a day. She kicked

her feet against the chair legs. She didn’t

like sitting on the chair but for some reason

 she never could remember to do as

mama said. It seemed like hours before

mama called her to come to the table, but

at last she was allowed to get off the chair.

After the supper dishes were put away

and the baby put to bed, mama opened the

letter and sat down in the rocker to read it.

Katie stood by the chair and waited impatiently.

 “What does grandma say? What

does she say?” she asked eagerly.

“Just be patient, Katie.” said mama.

Mama looked at the letter. Then smiled.

“Why, Katie, grandma says that she and

aunty are coming to visit! Isn’t that wonderful?

 She says she can’t wait to see you

and Helen and meet the new baby.”

“Oh goody! When’s she coming?”

“Well, it looks like it will be about two

weeks. Now, I want you to be a good girl

when they are here. Do you understand?” 

“Yes, mama.”

The next two weeks were filled with 


 Mama was very busy getting the

guest room ready and cleaning and cooking. 

Katie was filled with plans for all the

things she could do and talk about with

grandma. Grandma had lived most of her

life in the old country of Germany and

Katie loved to hear her stories and ask

questions. Several times a day she would

ding stopped.

But then her tongue started to swell. It got

bigger and bigger until her mouth was so

full that she couldn’t talk. She couldn’t

talk to grandma and tell her all those

things she wanted to, or ask her all the

questions she had planned on. It hurt so

bad she couldn’t eat. Mama and grandma

had to mash all her food up so it was nice

and soft and it still hurt to eat.

It took a long time for her tongue to go

back to it’s normal size, but by then

grandma’s visit was over and she had

gone back to Portland.

Katie’s tongue finally healed. But for the

rest of her life, she was missing a little

chunk from the very tip of it. Whenever

she was tempted to put her tongue

between her teeth or run in the house after

that, she would feel that missing piece in

her tongue and decide that it wasn’t wise

to disobey.

  Virginia Markwell