"Tie-Dye Heart" by the author, Deeann D. Mathews
11-year-old Velma Trent just shook her head as the latest Ludlow family drama took place in their neighbor's yard.
“A simple phone call over here would have saved so much trouble!”
Nine-year-old brother Milton and eight-year-old sister Gracie said the same thing at the same time.
“Ain't it the truth,” they said, sounding just like their grandmother Velma.
It all started because five-year-old Robert Edward Ludlow III, known as Lil' Robert, misunderstood an old saying.
“Well, if blonds have more fun, why am I not having more fun?”
Equally blond six-year-old Grayson Ludlow looked over.
“I guess we gotta look for more fun,” he said.
That very afternoon was the tie-dye session for the Ludlow family summer shirts. Inspiration hit the more thoughtful Grayson.
“I got it, Robert – since we're blond, we can tie-dye our hair!”
“Yaaaaaaaaaaay! What color do you want your hair to be?”
“Uh … let's ask Grandma what yellow combines with.”
Mrs. Ludlow innocently participated in her grandsons' scheme.
“Well, if you combine yellow with blue, it makes green, and if you combine yellow with red, it makes orange.”
Capt. Ludlow was out working on the family van with oldest grandchildren Andrew, Eleanor, and George, while eight-year-old Edwina and seven-year-old Amanda were working on the tie-dye project with their grandmother and brothers … but Edwina and Amanda would help out as soon as the situation was explained to them.
“We have good sisters who love us,” Lil' Robert said. “I want my hair to be tie-dyed with orange streaks – I like orange!”
“And I love green, so yeah!” Grayson said.
The phone rang, and Mrs. Ludlow got up to go get it.
Knots were tied in hair. Dye pots were dumped all over two little boys' heads. Mistakes were made.
“Well, we were tie-dying anyway, so, it's all good,” Edwina said.
“Yep, the house will be all matching and stuff,” Amanda said as she rubbed her very blue hands on her white summer dress.
“Wow – look at us!” Lil' Robert said as he ran, dripping red dye all the way into the bathroom.
“Yep – it's perfect,” Grayson said as he untied his brother's hair and his brother untied his, showing the blond color that had been preserved.
In the next room, Mrs. Ludlow cut the conversation short – “Uh oh, they are all excited about something. Can't leave your nieces and nephews alone for a minute – I gotta go.”
“You know,” Grayson was saying, “Grandpa's hair is pure white, and he used to be a blond – just because he's an old blond doesn't mean he shouldn't have more fun too!”
“Yeah!” Lil' Robert said.
So, outside onto the front porch they went, still dripping dye, just as proud as two little peacock chicks.
“Hey, Grandpa!” Lil' Robert yelled. “Look at us – do you want us to fix you up?”
Velma, Milton, and Gracie Trent were drawing with their chalk all over their front porch and steps and looked up in surprise.
“Wow,” Milton said. “I guess blonds really do have more fun.”
“But do they really, though?” Velma said to her siblings.
Velma was looking at the face of Robert Edward Ludlow Sr. in shock, and at eleven-year-old Eleanor, ten-year-old Andrew, and nine-year-old George as they just put their hands over their eyes and then bumped and tripped all each other while trying to hide behind the family van. They and Velma knew what was coming.
“ROBERT EDWARD LUDLOW III! GRAYSON LUDLOW!”
The grand basso profundo of Robert Edward Ludlow Sr. was heard clear across the Blue Ridge that day, announcing the chase around and around the house between grandfather and grandsons.
“That's the second lap,” Gracie said, “and he's gaining on them because they are spending so much air yelling and screaming in terror.”
“For an old guy, Capt. Ludlow is really fast – must be that Army training,” Milton said.
“Oh – he stopped,” Gracie said. “He's going to let them run clear around the house the third time right into him!”
“Army training at work again,” Milton said. “Strategy and tactics!”
“All of this could have been avoided!” Velma said. “A simple phone call over here would have saved so much trouble!”
“Ain't it the truth,” Milton and Gracie said together.
“We could have chalked up their hair and Edwina and Amanda's hair, free of charge, and it washes out so easy and works on all hair colors and types,” Gracie said.
“See, this is what Pop-Pop says about diversity, and why people of different races need to work and share ideas with each other,” Velma said. “Everybody could have had more fun, but now both their heads and their tushes are going to be bald in about five, four, three, two – .”
Lil' Robert and Grayson Ludlow came running and screaming around the side of the house, still thinking their grandfather was behind them, only to get the surprise of their little lives when he stepped out in front of them.
They were so shocked they stopped cold and sat right down on the ground, their blue and gray eyes as wide as dinner plates.
“Old blonds can teleport?” Grayson said. “Wow!”
“Uh, how do you spell teleport?” Lil' Robert said to him.
“Teleport … uh, well, I know it starts with a T, but … hey, Grandpa, how do you spell teleport?”
Half of Capt. Ludlow's anger was teleported away from him, although he still had to do what custodial grandpas had to do.
“We'll discuss that,” he growl-purred, “after we discuss who gave you permission to go from tie-dying your shirts to tie-dying your hair.”
“Who said we needed permission?” Lil' Robert said.
The Trents all ran and got behind the van with Eleanor, Andrew, and George.
“It was so nice knowing Lil' Robert,” Gracie said. “I can't look!”
“We go through this every other day with him!” Eleanor said. “I pray so much that he live to see six years old!”
Capt. Ludlow's ears picked up all of this, and so did Lil' Robert's and Grayson's.
“You see how much trouble you cause your friends and family when you don't ask permission?” he said.
Lil' Robert and Grayson considered this.
“You know, Robert,” Grayson said, “this ain't cool. Just because we're blond doesn't mean we get to cause other people to feel bad.”
Lil' Robert's sweet heart was as big as his mouth – he burst into tears.
“I'm sorry – I didn't mean it!”
And he ran to hug and kiss Eleanor, Andrew, George, Velma, Milton, and Gracie, and get red dye all over them and the Ludlow family van.
Capt. Ludlow put his head in his hand, and then put his head in both hands as Grayson had the next idea.
“Hey, Grandpa, if you get the hose you can wash the van and them off at the same time!”
“Thalia, do I even want to know what my house and my two youngest granddaughters look like?”
“Robert, you might want to teleport anywhere but here.”
“We can just run the hose through the house and on Edwina and Amanda too – that's it!”
But Grayson, in his eagerness to hook up the hose, was teleported by his grandfather's strong right hand on the collar of his drip-dyed shirt, right back to where he had been sitting.
“Boy, if you don't sit down and be quiet and let me breathe and think and get my heart rate down …”