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Leslie Blackwell Leslie Blackwell
Recommendations: 21

Carter Winston Can't Win

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She had a friend.

There is no pleasing some people

Carter Winston is an eight year old boy who just can’t win with his new stepmother, Emily.

“Your room is a mess, Carter. Go clean it up,” Emily tells him late one morning.

“Oh, do I have to?” he grouses. “I’m watching my favourite cartoon.”

“Do as you are told and be sure you tidy it up properly.”

“Yes Mummy,”  

Carter grumpily trudges upstairs and starts tidying his room; neatly stacking comics, sorting out toys and picking up discarded items of apparel.

Emily enters the room about twenty minutes later and gives a disgruntled groan.

“Haven’t you finished yet?” she grumbles impatiently.

“I’m taking care to tidy the room properly like you said,” he retorts.

“It doesn’t have to be spotless. Try to hurry up, we’re going out soon.”

“I didn’t know we were going out.”

“Well we are so stop dilly-dallying.”

Carter silently mimics Emily once and trades quality for quantity. He stuffs his unfolded clothes into random draws, throws toys into the boxes and crams the rest of the comics onto the shelves in several untidy piles.

Friedrich Nietzsche may have found order from chaos but Carter only finds more chaos from chaos, and Emily is unimpressed when she inspects his rough as guts efforts.

“You could have at least hung your shirt on the hanger, it’s all crumpled and going to have to be ironed again!” she scolds.

“You said I had to tidy in a hurry,” replies Carter.

So he has to tidy his room again.

Carter Winston is an eight year old boy who just can’t win with his new stepmother, Emily.

One afternoon after school Carter nervously hands Emily a report card.

“These grades are unacceptable!” she berates.  “Forty percent for Maths, thirty six  for grammar and a shocking twenty two for spelling”

“I tried my best,” offers Carter, but his words fall on deaf ears.

He is grounded for the weekend.

Carter applies himself at school and struggles hard to make his mother proud.

At the end of next term he hands her a much improved report card.

“Seventy-one percent for Maths, Sixty-eight for English and fifty-five for Science,” she reads as he stands there with a big grin on his face, which quickly vanishes with her following comment. “Forty five for Geography! This grade is unacceptable”

“The questions were just too hard…” offers Carter feebly.

She is not interested in excuses and he is grounded for another weekend.

Carter Winston is an eight year old boy who just can’t win with his new stepmother, Emily.

One evening just before lights-out, Emily sits by his bed with a picture book. It has photos of all sorts of animals and she asks him how many he can identify.

“What’s this one?” she asks.

“A crocodile,” he replies confidently.

“It’s an alligator…what about this one?”

“Errrr… a baby alligator?”

“It’s a crocodile.”

None of his guesses are correct and Emily becomes impatient.

“A fox” he guesses part way through.

“An Artic fox. They live in the Artic…what about this one?”

“A basement fox?”

“A basement Fox!”

“If there’s foxes in our attic they might be in our basement too.”

“Artic not attic…okay let’s try this one.”


“I think you mean Hippopotamus.”


“Hippo –pot a-muss”

”Hippo –pot a-muss”


“Hippopotamus…is it a Hippopotamus?”

“Actually a Pygmy Hippopotamus.”

“Is one beside it a piggy hippo too?”

“Pigmy not piggy and no it isn’t. It’s a normal hippo…okay last chance.”

“A spider monkey from the amazon rain forest in South America. There are seven different kinds but that one is definitely a white-cheeked spider monkey's uncle. They are also known as Ateles marginatus.”  

“Yes but you needn’t be such a smarty-pants about it Carter.”

Carter Winston is an eight year old boy who just can’t win with his new stepmother, Emily.

Another day Emily’s Great Aunt Felicity. She is accompanied by her autistic son Gerald. Carter has never had much interaction with special needs children and keeps his distance, fearing to speak to the boy lest he says something offensive.

Emily takes him aside and instructs,

“Gerald is a guest in our home and it is important he feels welcome. Ignoring him the way you are will make him think he is some type of outcast.”

“But I don’t want to say that will upset him.”

“Just treat him like you would with any other of your cousins.”

“Okay Mummy, I will.”

Carter obliges and slowly opens up to Gerald. They end up playing in the backyard while Emily and Felicity exchange family gossip.  Shrilling and giggling inanely, the boys chase one another for some time until Carter trips over an unseen object obscured by the grass. He lands hard and starts crying.

“Cry-baby, Cry baby!” teases Gerald and laughs in a taunting manner.

Infuriated, Carter gets back up and boots the seat of Gerald's jeans. Tempers fray and they wrestle one another. Carelessness leads to Gerald running back inside with a bleeding nose.

“How could you hurt him like that?” growls Emily a short time later, wagging her index finger.  

“You told me to treat him like I would with any other cousin,” he retorts with tears trickling down his cheeks and spends the rest of the day banished to his room.

Carter Winston is an eight year old boy who just can’t win with his new stepmother, Emily.

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