Little Red Didn’t Listen

“Don’t forget to put away your shoes,” said Little Red’s mother, but Little Red didn’t listen. She left her shoes in the middle of the hall, and her puppy chewed them to pieces.

“Chew with your mouth closed,” said Little Red’s mother, but Little Red didn’t listen. She gave her father a lovely view of her half-eaten food and got sent away from the table before she was finished.

“Don’t draw on the walls,” said Little Red’s mother, but Little Red didn’t listen. She slipped behind her bedroom door and drew an extra large wolf in red crayon on her wall.

Her mother never even noticed it was there.

That night, while Little Red slept, the wolf’s round eyes began to glow. Bit by bit he peeled himself off the wall and padded on silent feet across the toy-strewn floor to stand over Little Red’s bed. For a long time he stood there, watching her sleep until he was startled by the click of the furnace turning on and darted noiselessly to the door and out into the night.

“Take this basket to your grandmother,” said Little Red’s mother, “and listen carefully to the rules.” But Little Red just yawned as the words washed over her, and waited for her mother to tie on her hood.

The forest was misty and cold as Little Red walked, and she didn’t like the crunch of the stones on the path beneath her feet. “Stay on the path,” her mother had said, but Little Red was wearing her old shoes that pinched, and the grass looked so much more comfortable for walking. She wandered among the trees and never noticed that someone was watching her from their shadows.

“Don’t open the basket,” her mother had said, but Little Red was hungry from missing her supper the night before, and delicious smells were rising up through the cover. She opened it up and began to nibble the cake inside. Soon nibbling turned to gobbling, and the cake was all but gone before she was halfway to her grandmother’s house. She never looked behind to see who was sniffing hungrily at the crumbs.

“Don’t talk to strangers,” her mother had said, but when the wolf approached, Little Red thought he looked oddly familiar. She told him her name and where she was going, and never noticed the ravenous look in his eyes when he saw that her basket was empty.

“Call me when you get there,” her mother had said, but Little Red never did.

Crossing the Road

Once upon a time there was a chicken named Charlotte who, like most chickens, lived on a farm. Like most chickens she spent her days pecking up corn and laying eggs. Like most chickens she rolled her eyes when the rooster came strutting through the barnyard. But unlike most chickens, Charlotte dreamed of a different life.

Charlotte wanted to travel, to see the world, to have adventures. She didn’t talk much about her dreams because she had learned long ago that the other chickens would laugh. “Chickens don’t travel,” they would say. “It’s just not done.”

Though she never stopped dreaming, Charlotte did stay on the farm. It wasn’t because she thought the other chickens were right. She didn’t mind doing things that had never been done. No, she stayed because of the road.

The only way off the farm was to cross the high road. Charlotte was terrified of the high road. Shiny cars and enormous trucks zoomed by on hot black asphalt. The high road was a place of terror. .

Charlotte’s best friend on the farm was a possum who lived in the tree that shaded the hen house. His name was Owen, and he had lost his whole family on the high road when he was just a little kit. He would never go anywhere near the road. In fact, he didn’t often leave his tree at all. The story he had told Charlotte about the high road was enough to keep her away from there forever, or so she thought.

Things would have continued like this forever, Charlotte laying eggs and dreaming of far off beaches, if it hadn’t been for the visiting cousins.

The kids who lived on the farm were far too used to all the animals to have much interest in them, but when their cousins came for a visit one summer, they couldn’t stay away from the farm yard. They chased the chickens and threw rocks at the barn cats. They hunted for snails and tried to ride the goats. But the worst day of all was the day that they climbed the tree and found Owen.

Charlotte watched as they oohed and ahhhed over Owen. They had never seen a possum before. Charlotte started to get really worried when the biggest one went back to the house for a box. Sure enough, they put Owen in the box and carried him away. Charlotte could see them sneaking the box into the back of the car. Pretty soon the whole family loaded up and said goodbye. To Charlotte’s horror the car began to drive away with Owen still in his box in the back seat. She had never imagined that they would actually take him away from the farm. Suddenly, the car screeched to a halt. The back door flew open. Charlotte could hear yelling, and then Owen’s box was rudely thrown out while the car drove rapidly away.

Charlotte was frozen with terror. There was Owen’s head peeking out of the box.

And the box was sitting right in the middle of the high road!

A car rushed by, narrowly missing Owen’s box. That was when Charlotte completely lost her head. Ignoring the clucks of all the other chickens, she dashed out of the farm yard and up the bank to the road. At the edge of the road, she paused for a moment and looked. It was clear that Owen was completely unable to move. With a deep breath, Charlotte ran out onto the road. She could see a giant truck coming in the distance. Running as fast as her legs could carry her, she dashed to Owen’s box, gripped it tightly in her beak, and began to drag it across the road. The truck was getting closer and closer. Owen was so heavy. Charlotte didn’t think she was going to make it. Her heart was beating so hard that it hurt her chest. The truck was almost on top of them. Suddenly Charlotte fell backwards, dragging Owen and his box down with her. She had backed right off the edge of the road. Just as the truck rushed by, they fell to safety. Charlotte just lay there, thinking she would never be able to move again.

Owen was beginning to recover, though. He was looking around. “Charlotte,” he said. “Look where we are.”

Charlotte still didn’t move.

“Charlotte,” said Owen. “You did it. We’re on the other side of the road.”

Now Charlotte did sit up. She looked around. Suddenly, she didn’t feel the least bit tired. Owen was right. They were on the other side of the road. Charlotte was free! She jumped up and did a little dance just for the sheer joy of it.

Crossing the road had been just as horrible as she thought it would be, but now that it was over, Charlotte couldn’t believe that she had waited so long. She did just as she had always dreamed: she traveled the world. She lay on exotic beaches. She wandered the streets of foreign cities. She even visited a wonderful place called the Corn Palace. And everywhere she went, her friend Owen went with her. And they were very, very happy.

Moral: Crossing the road is the hardest part.

Plodding wins the race?

I’m going to keep this brief because quick and to the point is my style. But for all hares everywhere, I really think it is time I spoke out.

That whole big story about the tortoise and the hare? It’s been grossly misinterpreted. I’m not disputing the facts of the story. Oh, no. The tortoise told the facts just like they happened. He doesn’t have enough imagination to lie about it. It happened just like he said. I got out to a quick start, stopped in the shade to take a nap, and slept right through his passing me by and winning the race.

I won’t deny that it was a little embarrassing to lose to a turtle, but I’m pretty much over that. What gets to me is the moral everyone keeps passing along. Plodding wins the race? Seriously? That’s what you want children to remember? What kind of society are you people trying to create? A society of boring little plodders? I don’t say that to belittle tortoises. Seriously, I don’t. If plodding is what you do well, good for you. You probably really will win most races with your steady persistence. But you’ll forgive me if I’m not teaching young hares to imitate you.

I’ll be telling them the true moral of the story. I’ll tell them that nothing, not even winning, feels better than running so fast that your ears fly back. I’ll tell them that being a hare means watching the world fly by and the ground disappear under your powerful hind legs. I’ll tell them that the joy of that kind of speed is exhausting, and they shouldn’t be afraid to rest when they need to. I’ll tell them that if they run fast enough, they’ll have time to take a nap and still finish the race. They may come in second, but they’ll be so rested that they’ll be ready for the next race as soon as they cross the finish line.

Most importantly, I’ll tell them that when you are the best at something, you don’t need to prove it to anyone else. Because that’s what I learned that day, not that I shouldn’t have stopped for a nap, but that I shouldn’t have issued that ridiculous challenge in the first place. I was showing off, plain and simple, hoping to win their respect and admiration. But would those things have made my legs stronger to escape the prowling tiger? Would they have made the thrill of running at heart-bursting speed any more thrilling?

Excellence is its own reward. Tell that to your children when you tell them my story. That will be a lesson well worth learning.

On the Wall

Being omniscient is not all it’s cracked up to be.  After all, what good does it do to know everything, if you can’t do anything about it?  And that is the story of my life.  If there’s a disaster somewhere, I can see it.  But I can’t help.  I can’t make things better.  I just have to hang here, waiting for someone to come along and ask the right question, so I can warn them.

It wasn’t so bad with my first master.  He was a powerful sorcerer and a little selfish, but he was also very wise.  He knew what to ask and when to ask it.  And he would listen to me.  It only makes sense to listen to someone who knows everything, right?  At least with him, I felt like my knowledge was being put to use, if not always good use.

Then he died, and I was left to his daughter.  That woman is a nightmare.  Selfish?  Yes.  Vain?  You don’t even want to know.  Wicked?  Without a doubt.  But I could probably overlook those things in general.  From all I’ve seen, everyone has a little bit of selfish, vain, and wicked in them.  What kills me is that she is so vapid.  Is there a whole world out there?  Not as far as she’s concerned.  From day one, the only thing she has ever asked me about is her own beauty.

When she was going to get married, did she bother to ask if her husband-to-be was kind or cruel or…I don’t know…had a child already?  Not at all.  Just, “Am I the fairest of them all?”  Yes, my lady, yes you are.  And off she went to make a life changing decision with little to no information.  When her husband’s kingdom was being invaded by dwarves, did she consult with me about what could be done?  Of course not.  Just, “Who is the fairest of them all?”  Still you, my queen.  And likely to keep being you if this war continues.  When the peace treaty was finally signed and the king was trying to help his people rebuild their country, did she ask for my help?  You guessed it.  It was just, “Am I the fairest of them all?”  Yes, my queen.  I think we may have been over this before.  That was the day I decided that I could take matters into my own hands…even if I don’t actually have any hands.

My plan involved my mistress’s step-daughter, who was just now getting old enough to be useful.  The girl’s 15th birthday was coming up, and I knew the queen was a little jealous of all the attention the girl was getting.  So the next time she came with her insufferable question, I was ready.

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?”

“O queen, you are lovely, graceful, and tall, but Snow White is fairest of them all.”

I have to confess that I may have been a little creative with the truth there.  The girl was quite pretty if you like the pale-skinned, wide-eyed kind, but she wasn’t going to win any beauty contests.  Here’s the thing.  I am bound to speak the truth, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in all my years of knowing everything, it’s that the truth is a matter of perspective.  For example, little Snow White was at her prettiest when she was asleep, all innocent and sweet with her little black lashes against her little white cheek.  The queen, on the other hand, was quite unattractive in the middle of the night.  Her dark hair was tangled and oily, her cheek bore the imprint of her pillow, and her nightgown made her look…well, chunky.  So all I had to do was picture the two of them at midnight and then my answer was as true as Snow White’s innocent heart.

As I predicted, my mistress completely lost control.  She never expected to hear anything but an affirmation of her own gorgeousness.  (Don’t even get me started about perpetually asking a question to which you already know the answer.)  She was not used to not having things go her way.  Her face turned purple.  She stuttered a little.  She pulled at her hair and threw a vase across the room.  For a minute I thought I might have made a mistake and that she would smash me before my plan had a chance to work.  But then she calmed down and began to make the wicked schemes that I knew she would make.

I know that you are familiar with most of Snow White’s story.  (How could I not know that?)  You know that her step-mother tried to have her killed and that she was saved by the very hunter who was to have killed her.  You know that the wild animals helped her and led her to a new home with some of the very dwarves who had previously been her father’s enemies.  You know that she was happy there for a while and that she won the hearts of those dwarves forever.  I had predicted all of these things.  I knew the kind-hearted hunter had a daughter just Snow White’s age.  I knew that seven dwarves in desperate need of a housekeeper were living very close to that part of the woods.   It was a risky plan, but I knew the probability of success was great.

My part was to help my mistress find Snow White.  It wouldn’t do me any good to have Snow White killed by someone else or even living happily ever after with the dwarves.  Unless I could get my mistress to go after the girl herself, unless I could get her locked up in the deepest dungeon, I would never be free.  So I concentrated hard on the way my mistress looked when she was angry and the way Snow White looked when she was singing to the dwarves, and the next time my mistress came, I had her answer ready.

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall, NOW who’s the fairest of them all?”

“You are lovely, my lady, graceful and tall, but Snow White is still fairest of them all.”

That was a dangerous moment.  For me.  For the poor hunter.  For my mistress’s blood pressure.  But fortunately, her first question was about the location of Snow White.  Once I had showed her that, she was too obsessed to worry about the rest of us.

And so the story unfolded as you have heard.  Snow White ate the poisoned apple and was buried in a glass casket in the forest.  The dwarves captured the wicked step-mother, who was locked away in the dungeons forever.  I have to confess that I was so overjoyed at being free from answering that same inane question every day that I didn’t think much about poor Snow White sleeping a deathly sleep all alone.  When I said everyone is a little selfish, vain, and wicked, I didn’t claim to be the exception.

It didn’t take long for me to get bored with my new existence, though.  I may have been free of one silly mistress, but now no one talked to me at all.  I wasn’t even sure if anyone knew about me.  When they cleaned out my mistress’s room and carried me off to be hung in the library, I began to be worried.  But I got lucky.  One day, when the king was reading, he suddenly threw his book down and cried out, “Why, oh why, did my Snow White have to die?”

It was my big chance.  Before he could rush off to cry I said, “It is not as you said, oh King, Snow White is not dead.”

I really wish you could have seen his face.  I’m not even capable of describing it, and I know all the words there are.  In any case, it didn’t take long after I’d explained the situation for him to find a suitable prince who was willing to kiss a not-quite-dead princess.  Snow White and her prince came home to live with her father.  Everyone was so grateful to me that I was hung in a place of honor in the family dining room to be consulted by every family member whenever they had need.

And I am pleased to say that we are all living happily ever after.

Run, run!

Okay, so I’ve just been told there are some nasty rumors going around about me.  Something about how I’m a snotty little punk who taunts taunts people who aren’t as fast as me?  Or better yet, how I’m all brawn and no brains…a fast runner who can be outsmarted by a common fox.  Sorry, people, your intel is a little off.   I mean, yes, I am very fast, but I’m not stuck up about it.  Seriously, I’m not.  How could I possibly think I’m all that when I’m sporting little cherry buttons and currant eyes?  Tasty?  Of course.  But not exactly manly attire.

Here’s the thing:  all I ever really wanted was to break free from the stereotypes, you know?  You say “gingerbread man,” and everyone thinks it’s time to chow down.  Like we’re just here to be delicious or something.  But I wanted to be more.  I wanted to help people, to really make a difference.  And to do that, first I had to keep from getting eaten.  And it’s not just about me.  Eating me would be really unhealthy.   I’m all made out of butter and sugar and molasses, and everyone knows those things are bad for you.  When I came out of the oven, I took one look at that old lady and knew her ticker couldn’t take too many more meals like me.  What she needed was some exercise, but obviously she was lacking motivation.  That’s when it came to me, all in a flash.  Without even thinking, I yelled, “Don’t eat me!” and then I ran off.  I knew she would chase me.  I also knew that no one with those love handles was going to catch a brand new gingerbread man like me.  Just to make sure she kept moving, I started to sing, “Run, run, as fast as you can!  You can’t catch me; I’m the gingerbread man!”

Okay, people, I get that it’s not the best song in the world.  I get that it maybe sounds like I was mocking her.  But I had to make it up as I went; there was no time for being polite.  Plus, you have to admit.  It worked.  That little old lady moved faster than she had moved in years.  She was puffing and panting, and there was no doubt that it was aerobic.  She chased me for a good twenty minutes, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is a great workout for a woman her age.  She may have been mad that she lost her snack, but someday she is totally going to thank me.

As for that fox, don’t believe anything he tells you.  I don’t normally dish about my clients, but since he started it, let me just say that he was carrying a good 20 extra pounds when I met him.  Running wasn’t getting it done, so we switched to swimming.  I would ride on his back and make sure he kept up a good pace.  Did he occasionally have a lapse of judgment and try to eat me?  Yeah, he did.  Did he ever succeed?  No, of course not.  I’m still here, and you’d better believe that after two months with me, he’s looking like a new fox.  Please tell the ungrateful cur that I said, “You’re welcome.”

So that’s how I found my calling in life, and I’ve been making people run ever since.  Some people may argue with my methods, but no one can argue with my results.  Are people eating cookies?  No.  Are they outside, breathing fresh air and getting some good cardio time in?  Yes, they are.  Thank you very much.  That’s all I have to say about that.

The Importance of a Brick House

Once upon a time there was a mother pig who had three sons.  Her oldest son, Mikey, was a very responsible pig who always did everything anyone asked him to do.  Her middle son, Sam, was a very kind pig who loved his family and tried to help everyone out when he could.  Her youngest son, Steve, was a very handsome pig who loved to have a good time and make everyone laugh.  The four of them lived very happily together in their rented house until one day the owner, Mr. Big Bad Wolf came by to say he was selling the house and they had to be out by the end of the month.  It was very upsetting, but there was nothing to be done.  The mother pig decided to go and live with her sister, who had an extra room.  This meant that the three sons were on their own for the first time.  Their mother was very proud of them and knew they were ready for this challenge.  She only gave them one word of advice before sending them on their way.  “Always stick together,” she said.  “Family takes care of family.”

So out the three young pigs went into the wide, wide world.  They fully intended to keep their mother’s advice, so they looked for a place where they could build a house to live together.  They knew exactly what they wanted it to be like:  an open grassy space with plenty of trees to supply Mikey’s wood shop, lots of room for Sam to have a garden, and a stream nearby for Steve to fish in.

Everything was going well until they met a man who was selling straw houses.  “These are the finest straw houses you will ever see,” the man claimed.  “Everyone who is anyone is building their houses out of straw these days.  Straw is the latest fashion.”  And he showed the three pigs many pictures of rich and famous pigs posing outside of their straw houses.  Steve was very impressed by these pictures.  He imagined how cool he would look in a house of straw.  His brothers, however, did not agree.  They thought the houses looked silly and flimsy, but Steve could not be convinced.  Finally the brothers agreed, not because they liked the straw houses but because they saw that Steve was going to buy the house no matter what and they wanted to stick together as their mother had advised.  That was when the man told them the houses were only big enough for one pig each.  They would have to buy three houses to have room for all of them.  The older two brothers tried again to tell Steve what a bad idea this was, but Steve would not listen.  He bought that house and moved in at once.  And Mikey and Sam were left to look for a place to live as near to Steve as possible.

It didn’t take long for them to find another man.  This man was selling wood houses.  They were much sturdier than the straw houses and were very handsome to look at.  “This is a very wise purchase,” said the man.  “Properly taken care of, you will be able to sell this house for more than you bought it in only two years time.”  And he showed the two pigs all the numbers.  The houses were very expensive, and Sam did not want to borrow money from the man to buy their house.  Mikey did not agree.  He argued that they could make money by selling the house later and it was only being responsible to buy something that was such a good investment.  He insisted for so long that Sam finally agreed.  But when they went to buy the house, the man advised them not to live in it together.  “Two pigs means more wear and tear on the house.  I suggest that you each buy your own house and that you stay away from home as much as possible if you want to keep in nice for resale in the future.  Whatever you do, don’t use the kitchen.  That will only wear it out.  There are plenty of nice restaurants around here that can supply all you need to eat.”  Now Sam loved to cook.  That was why he wanted to have a garden.  Once again, he tried to talk Mikey out of buying the house, but Mikey just said, “You go on and look for a place that’s more like you want.  I’ll buy this and live here for a couple of years.  Then, when I’ve sold it and made some money, maybe we can talk about living together again.”

So Mikey bought his wood house and Sam went sadly on his way to look for a place of his own close to his brothers.  In no time at all, he came across an old man.  The old man was selling his large brick house.  “My health isn’t what it used to be, and I live here all alone now,” said the old man.  ‘It’s time I went to live with my daughter.  She’s been after me for years to do it.”  Sam had never seen anything more perfect than that house.  It sat in a wide open field with trees all around and a little stream running along one side.  Behind the house was a large garden.  The house had plenty of rooms and a large kitchen with an open fire for cooking.  Unfortunately, now that the other brothers had bought other houses, Sam did not have enough money to buy the brick house all by himself.  Instead, he made a deal with the man that he would work for him for a year to make up the difference in the price.

And so the year went by.  Sam lived in a little hut out behind the brick house and worked for the old man.  Mikey slept at the wood house and ate at restaurants every night to keep the kitchen fresh and new.  And Steve threw parties in the straw house and made friends who thought he was very funny.  At last the day came when Sam’s year was up and he was the owner of the brick house.  That night he invited his brothers to dinner and cooked a big meal over the open fire.  He showed his brothers how much room there was and invited them to come and live with him.  But Steve didn’t want to give up his exciting life in the straw house, and Mikey still had a year to go before he could turn a profit on the wood house, so they both said no.

The next day, the troubles started.  Mr. Big Bad Wolf had decided to build a highway right through that portion of the woods.  He got permission to knock down all the houses that were in his way.  Soon his agents came knocking on the door of the straw house.  They told Steve that his house was going to be knocked down unless he could pay the extra cost of running the road around it.  Steve had no money.  He had spent it all buying the straw house and throwing parties in it.  He begged and pleaded, but they did not listen.  They told him to get out before they brought it down while he was still inside.  Steve refused to leave…until he saw the bulldozers coming.  Then he ran out the door and straight down the road to Mikey’s house, where he told Mikey all his troubles.  Unfortunately, Mikey was having troubles of his own.   The same agents had been to his house.  They gave him one week to get out before it was torn down.  They had told him he would be paid for his house, but they were only offering half of what he had paid for it.  He wanted to see a lawyer and fight this, but he had no money.  All that eating out at restaurants was expensive.  For a week, the two pigs lived in the wood house and tried to figure out what to do.  They were too ashamed of all their troubles to go to Sam for help until  the week was gone and the bulldozers came and they had no choice but to head down the road to the brick house.

At the brick house, Sam had just learned of what was going on.  Just hours before his brothers arrived, the agents of Mr. Big Bad Wolf had come with their notice that he had two weeks before his house would be torn down.  Sam was just thinking about what he could do when he saw his brothers trudging up the lane.  He laughed with relief and ran to meet them.  Together they thought of a plan.  All they needed was enough money to pay for the road to run around the brick house.  So they got to work.  Mikey spent hours and hours in his wood shop carving wooden bowls and spoons and little toys for children.  Sam could be found all day long in his kitchen baking pies.  Steve went early every morning to the stream to catch as many fish as possible.  And every afternoon they would head to the market to sell the things they had made and caught.

Two weeks later when the bulldozers arrived, the three brothers were standing outside their house with no intention of leaving it.  The workers told them to get out of the way, but they wouldn’t.  They threatened to call Mr. Big Bad Wolf himself.  Sam said that sounded like a good idea.  Shortly, Mr. Big Bad Wolf arrived, quite put out that he had been interrupted in the middle of his busy day.  He had all his contracts in his hands.  “This house is coming down, boys,” he said in his booming voice.  “You might as well face the facts.  It’s all legal here as you can see.  Unless you can pay for us to go around (and I know you don’t have that kind of money) this is happening, and it’s happening now.”

Sam just smiled and nodded to Steve.  Steve came forward pushing a wheel barrow.  Inside the wheel barrow were piles and piles of money.  “I think that will do the trick,” said Mikey.

Mr. Big Bad Wolf couldn’t believe what he was seeing, but when they counted the money, it was indeed enough.  So the workers went to work building the road around the brick the house.  And the brothers went back inside, promising each other that they would always live together and work together from now on.

They kept that promise.  And they never saw Mr. Big Bad Wolf again.

Musings of a Middle Aged Bear

Kids these days. They aren’t afraid of anything, and it’s the worst thing that ever happened to them. Children need a little fear in their lives. It makes them careful. It makes them respectful. It keeps them in line. The way things are going now, they just run any which way and do any old thing they want. Now it’s up to us olduns to be afraid. Afraid of what the little brats are going to do next.

Take that little blond snippet.   You know, the one whose parents dress her in adorable blue and white pinafores and then let her roam the forest unsupervised.  Nice.  You know, there was a time when people would have thought to keep a child like that out of the woods.  It’s not like everyone doesn’t know there are bears living out here.  Just because we have better things to eat for breakfast than small children doesn’t mean that we don’t still deserve respect.

In any case, this child is the worst of the bunch.  She doesn’t just think the whole forest belongs to her, she’s apparently never been taught the words “private property.”  Just the other day she pried open the door of my son’s house when no one was home and waltzed inside just as calm as you please.  I’d like to know who taught a child that kind of trick.  That’ s what I’d like to know.

That’s not even the worst of it, though.  This little girl breaks into a bear house, sees pictures of bears everywhere, and is she afraid?  Does she tremble and run away before the bears come home?  No, not at all.  Instead she decides to steal their food, break up their furniture, and just to show that she thinks nothing can touch her, she falls asleep in my grandson’s bed!  His bed.  Where he hibernates.  If he even can now after seeing a sight like that.

Oh yes, he saw it.  The little brat was still there, fast asleep, when my son and his family came home, bringing me along for my week long visit.  They saw the missing food and the broken furniture right away and knew something was wrong.  I told my son he should have gone for help right away, but he’s always had a stubborn independent streak.  Up the stairs he went to check things out himself, and that’s when we found her.   My son let out a great roar, more surprise than anger, you understand, and she woke right up.  There we were, four bears standing over, mouths open with shock, and she doesn’t scream, doesn’t cry, doesn’t so much as blush.  She just sits up, yawns real slow-like and says, “It’s a good thing you had this bed.  That one is much to hard and that one is much too soft.”  !!!!!! Who does this little cub thinks she is?  Too hard?  Too hard? I’ll have you know that my husband made that bed with his own paws 40 years ago and first he and then my son have been happily sleeping on it ever since.  As for my daughter-in-law’s bed, I will admit that it is ridiculously soft.  (Really, what does one bear need with so many pillows?)  But nontheless, it is her bed in her house.   It’s not for some little wisp of a girl to come along and criticize.  Too soft for you, is it?  Then maybe you should find a bed that’s in your own house.

I was just about to open my mouth and say all these things when my son began to laugh.  Laugh!  What he could possibly have found funny I’ll never know.  All I know is that they took that self-entitled, ungrateful little waif down the stairs, fed her even more food, and sent her on her way with a smile.  I let my son know in no uncertain terms that he was making a fool of himself, but he just laughed again and made some more porridge.  He’s always been a little soft, just like his father.   But it’s not my place to meddle.  As I told my daughter-in-law several times that week, I’d never allowed such a child to get away with behavior like that in my house, but they can do what they like in their house.  It’s not my place to tell them what to do.

Kids these days…