I have been eyeing on Dorothy Canfield Fisher’s The Home-Maker (Persephone Book #7) for awhile now. So I was very glad to see the next short story in The Persephone Book of Short Stories is one of her short stories. 🙂
In The Rainy Day, the Good Mother, and the Brown Suit, we have a mother of three young kids. Like most mothers out there she has read a number of books on child training and has prepared herself for all sorts of scenarios. One of the books; ‘The Happy Child Is the Active Child’ had suggested keeping art supplies at hand in case of a stormy day, but when she takes out her well-stocked accessory set on a rainy day none of her children show an interest in doing art projects! There goes the poor mother’s plans to work without having to supervise her kids! To make things worse, Freddy, her son is quite persistent that he wants to wear his brown suit – which she had washed the day before and not dried out yet. She tries reasoning with Freddy like the books suggest, but no, logic does not work with five-year-olds! Instead, he gets Priscilla, his three-year-old sister to plead his case in front of their mom, and throws a tantrum when that does not go his way!
It is then the knight in shining armor of this story enters the scene (not that the mother views him so!). He turns out to be a cousin of the mother, a college student seeking shelter in the house from the rain till his bus arrives. He entertains the children with his ‘nonsense’, sends them into laughing fits, and gets them to do a different kind of an art project.
The mother gets understandably upset by the turn of events. What was the point of all her efforts?
‘It’s not fair. That great lout of a boy without a care in the world takes their fancy with his nonsense, and they turn their backs on me entirely. I represent only food and care – and refusals. I work my head off for them – and the first stranger appeals to them more…’
… she thinks. But at the end of the story, her three little brats will transform into adorable darlings and remind her it is all worth it! 🙂
Dorothy Canfield Fisher was an educational reformer who is known for introducing the Montessori method of child rearing in the US. So it is no surprise her short story would have elements of it! The mother in this story also reminded me of my mom. I remember how she used to write a letter in the alphabet before going to work each day, give me a children’s book, ask me to find all the instances of it and have them all circled by the time she returned. That used to keep me entertained all day!
All in all The Rainy Day, the Good Mother, and the Brown Suit was a wonderful read. The domestic chaos with children put me off at first, yet it put a smile on my face at the end.
The story can be found here (page 16 of the PDF) in its entirety and I highly recommend you read it as well!