“A whiner?!” she exclaimed. “I’m shocked, Simplia. Shocked! You were the third child in your family. How can you not feel sympathy for poor Frustrated’s plight?”
Simplia pushed her chin out, balled her hands into fists inside her apron pockets and said, “Because I can’t picture his mom and dad ever taking him deep into the forest and leaving him there, like poor Molly Whuppie. Do you know one fairy tale where that happens to a boy?”
“Hansel and Gretel,” Sagacia replied without an instant’s hesitation.
“They had a wicked step-mother. It was a boy and a girl. And anyway I’m talking about a real mom and a real dad. If that had been Hansel and Gretel’s real mom, there wouldn’t even be a story about them.”
“Watch what you say about step-mothers,” warned Sagacia, who loved her father’s second wife, who moonlighted as a good fairy godmother.
Simplia apologized and decided she wasn’t smart enough to have an argument with Sagacia. But that didn’t alter the way she felt about Frustrated in Fresno. Just let him spend a whole day trying to play and do his chores in a dress and petticoats, she thought to herself. He doesn’t know what hardship is.
“Neither does she,” said a telepathic goose, who had collapsed at the edge of the road, exhausted from trying to walk around with a body full of impossibly heavy golden eggs.
Simplia and Sagacia soon arrived at the Fairy Tale Lobby, where they pinned Frustrated in Fresno’s question to the message board in hopes that their magical friends would notice it and respond to him with words of hope or wisdom.
They had barely sat themselves down to a light repast of milk and ashcake before they heard the first responses.
Barra the Bard started her answer with a question:
Do all flowers bloom at the same time? No! It’s the same with people; some take longer than others to find out what they’re uniquely good at doing. Don’t try to compete with what your brothers do; after all, your brothers have years longer to attain their expertise.
Instead, pay attention to what they DON’T do. …(I)f you are nice to everyone, no matter how old, ugly, small or of a different species, you’ll be surprised at how far you may go!
Upon hearing what Hugh Waterhouse had to say to Frustrated, Simplia felt vindicated:
Speaking as an eldest son, I think it’s a bit rich for Jack, or Ivan, or whatever he is calling himself at the moment, to whitter on about his downtrodden life, his disadvantages and his disappointments, the unfairness of it all.
Consider the unfairness of knowing that by accident of birth, you are condemned to be the first to get the spell wrong, to snub the witch, or fail to help some animal in distress, and thus end up as donkeys, door-knobs or dead.
Priscilla Howe countered “Never mind about those ‘accomplishments’ of your older sibs. They’ve always been too big for their britches and that will be their downfall. Just remember to offer the old woman half your bread, be kind to the little animals who will help you later, and remember that your inner spark is bright enough to light your way. As Dame Julian of Norwich said, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”
Julie Moss Herrera took the long view: “First, third, second; eldest, youngest, middle… Never mind, unbeknownest to others most everyone tends to feel they are less accomplished, that others are mocking them. So believe in yourself, and set your spirit free from fretting about measuring up, Frustrated. You are/will become what you believe you are/will be. Go forth and change your world for you cannot really change anyone else’s.”
And Marilyn Kinsella said: You only have to prove yourself … to Humans! They don’t know what hardship is!
“Wow!” said Sagacia. “I’m going to cross stitch that into a sampler to hang over the fireplace.”
“We don’t have a fireplace,” Simplia reminded her. “That’s just one more reason why we hang out here at the Fairy Tale Lobby. We can always warm ourselves at the hearth.”
“…and listen in on great conversations.” said Sagacia. “Let’s not go home just yet. Someone else may come in with words of wisdom for Frustrated in Fresno.”