All of the boys in the Smith family were named after
their grandfather. James William, James Arthur, James Daniel, James
Edward and James Lawrence. Their mother, to avoid confusion, called them
by their middle names, not James, except when she was angry. “James, why
did you make this mess?” She'd shout from the bathroom so all could
The boys didn't know which one she meant, so they all
went running to see and the innocent ones were relieved when it wasn't
them who was in trouble.
One day Mother took them to the zoo. “Stay with me,
William, Arthur, Daniel, Edward and Lawrence. We're going to see tigers
and lions and maybe some anacondas.”
The boys went from cage to cage. They saw elephants,
hippos and ostriches.
“I want to see a tiger,” William pouted.
“I don't. I want to see a lion,” Arthur said.
“Well, I don't care if you want to see those. I want
to see a giraffe,” Daniel snarled.
“I want to see a polar bear,” Edward whined.
“I want to see a gazelle,” Lawrence said.
Instead of waiting for their mother, the five boys
ran off to look for the animals they wanted to see. Mother stood in the
middle of the zoo shouting. “James! Where are you?”
William stared at the tigers. They had stripes and
sharp teeth. He heard his mother call for James. “She doesn't want me.
She wants Lawrence,” he said.
Arthur pressed his face against the glass. “I like
the lion's mane.” He heard his mother call for James. “She doesn't want
me. She wants Edward.”
Daniel tipped his head back to see the tall giraffe.
It pulled leaves off the tree with its teeth and chewed them. He heard
his mother calling for James. “She doesn't want me. She want William.”
Edward watched the polar bear dive into the pool of
cool water. He heard his mother calling for James. “She doesn't want me.
She wants Daniel.”
Lawrence giggled when the gazelle leaped through the
air. He heard his mother calling for James. “She doesn't want me. She
So none of the boys answered their mother. She ran
from cage to cage, looking for her sons. The first one she spotted was
William. “James William, why didn't you come when I called for you?”
“You called for James. I thought you were calling
Lawrence,” William said.
His mother grabbed his arm and went in search of his
brothers. She found them all and dragged them home. She told them to sit
in the chair together. “Boys, I am not going to call you James anymore.
You'll go by your middle names and the next time you hear me say your
names, you'd better answer.”
The boys clapped and cheered because they didn't like
being called James either.