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Snuggle Sheep

By Joan Curran-Ellsworth and Tommy Ellsworth

Once upon a time there was a boy who lived in the country on a farm with many animals. He loved the animals and they loved him. Every day after school he would hurry home to play with them. They were good friends.

One day when the animals where waiting for the boy to play with them, he did not come. They came to the dooryard of the house and called to him and made quite a racket with their mooing and quacking and clucking and baaing and maaing and neighing and oinking.

Finally, the boy's mother came outside to tell the animals the boy was sick. She seemed very worried and told the animals she didn't know what else to do to make the boy feel better. The animals thought about what the mother had said and each one had advice to share about how to make the boy feel better.

The horse spoke first. "Whenever my tummy hurts, I always eat a nice bag of oats. You must give the boy oats in his feedbag." "What about milk," said the cow. "It makes young calves grow big and strong. If you would give him a cup of my nice milk I'm sure he would feel better." Not to be outdone, the hen added, "It's my nice fresh eggs the boy enjoys most, I'm sure they would make him feel better."

The mother thanked them all for their ideas. "I can give him all of the things you suggest. I'm sure a nice warm breakfast of oatmeal with milk and a plate of eggs will help his body to feel stronger. Thank you, horse, thank you, cow, and you too hen for your good advice.

Next the pig came forward. "Whenever I feel down, a nice mudbath always makes me feel better. Give the boy a mudbath," pig said seriously. This notion made Mother smile. "A bath is a very good idea, but I wonder... Human children may not be as robust as young pigs, perhaps a tub of warm water and soap would be a better choice." The pig thought about this and agreed that perhaps humans were not strong enough for a good mud bath.

Duck liked the idea of getting all wet. "Why when I want to feel better," duck quacked, "I just dunk my head right into a pool of cold water. Yup, I splash and I duck and it makes me feel good all over." Mother thought a moment and then said that this too was good advice. "I will take a bowl of cool water and a cloth," she said, "and bathe his face and forehead to cool his fever." She thanked the duck and patted him on the head.

Goat saw the attention the other animals were getting and did not want to be left out. He searched his goat brain for something that he could tell the mother that would help the boy. "Old shoes!" he finally bleated. "Old shoes! Nothing make makes me feel as good as chewing on old shoes." All the animals looked at mother to see how she would reply to this suggestion. Mother did not want to hurt goat's feelings and so she thought and thought about how to answer. Then she had an idea, "Oh, I see. You use the shoes as your medicine! You are quite right Mr. Goat, I should give our boy some medicine to help him fell better." Goat was very pleased with her response.

Mother stood up. "Thank you, all of you for your help. I'm sure if I use your ideas our boy will be feeling better very soon." As mother turned to go back into the house, a voice that had not yet spoken said, "Excuse me." Mother looked back to see who it was. The little mama sheep had come to the edge of the yard. "I have something I do for my young lambs that maybe you would like to hear. That is, if you want to." Sheep was very shy and mother encouraged her to speak." When little lambs are sick or afraid they need their mothers to curl up around them and snuggle them. I think that maybe human children might like that too." Mother knelt down and hugged the sheep and then went into the house.

Mother went upstairs to the room where the boy was sleeping. Most of the things the animals had told her to do could wait until morning. All except one. The mother pulled the boy's head onto her lap and snuggled with him and stroked his hair and thought about how much she loved him. Soon the boy began to breathe easier, and the mother did too. As they snuggled, they fell into a cozy sleep and didn't wake up until morning.

This is a story Tommy and I made up together one day when he was 4 and had bad cold. We had a hot-water-bottle with a fleece sheep for a cover and decided to make a story about her. Tommy supplied all the animals that came to speak to the mother. He is now 9 years old and in the 3rd grade. JC, January 2002

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