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“I can’t find it anywhere!” Sagacia grumbled, digging deep into her sewing basket.

“We used it to frame that ‘Lobby Sweet Lobby’ sampler you made last month,” said Simplia.  “Remember?”

“Oh, yeah!”

“Anyway, look what I found on the doorstep!” Simplia fanned out a handful of letters and waved them.

“Oh, goody!”

“Our magical friends are still sending advice or consolation for Frustrated in Fresno!”

“Oh, my!”  Sagacia said.  “That poor third son needs it!”

“That whiner, you mean!”  retorted Simplia.

“Give the guy a break!” Sagacia ordered.  (She was good at ordering.)  “He’s quite young, after all.”

She put on the teapot while Simplia found the old pewter letter opener, the one with the owl on the handle, and–whick, whick, whick–slit every envelope right across the top.

“Hmm…,” Simplia said.  “Did you know MyLinda Butterworth is a firstborn?  Listen to this!”

…as the oldest you are always expected to be the perfect child, but in reality you are the test child. Your parents try out all of their ideas on you and learn that some of their techniques are flawed, so they try something new with the next child. So stop whining, Fresno…

“Ha!  She agrees with me!” Simplia exclaimed triumphantly, slamming the letter onto the table.

Sagacia ignored the evidence.  “Yes, well Simon Brooks is also an oldest child, and he thinks being either youngest or oldest works out just fine!  Listen.”

My youngest sibling is by far the most successful of all four of us. Although to say she is “innocent, more fundamentally good or untarnished” is pushing it a bit!

On a positive note, I have never been left in the woods, but my evil step-father tried to send me to boarding school! … But all those times I found myself wedged in canyons, being chased by evil people, or dragons, or found myself talking my way out of trouble have given me more of those real experiences to put into my tales and made me a better storyteller! So I am happy to have been the first born with all of it’s grief and growing!

“Of course, but, he speaks only for himself!  Besides, Simon and MyLinda are not in Fairy Tales!  Listen to this!” Simplia said.  “It’s from Laura Simms, and it’s about fairy tale siblings.”

The first two brothers or sisters are usually those aspects of ourselves that are less “fresh;” they are “tarnished by habitual patterns of greed, conventional fear and reactions, etc.” While the third son or daughter is our innocent, more fundamentally good or untarnished aspect… not habituated. The storyteller gives us a chance to feel the contrast.  The older brothers might get stuck in a narrow road or turned to stone. or retrieve fame and a princess with deception only to lose out in the end to the youngest – whose natural kindness is becoming genuine conscious compassion through the journey of the story. . .

“Perfect! Laura would know, for sure!”  Sagacia said.  “And look. Here’s some comforting advice from Reilly McCarron.”

Dear Frustrated,
Your position in the family as third (or youngest) son is truly an honoured one. The fairy realm is filled with tales of youngest sons who triumphed where their brothers could not. I advise you find a storyteller, buy her/him a large jug of ale, find a cosy seat by the hearth in your nearest tavern, and ask about ‘The Magic Table, the Gold Donkey, and the Club in the Sack’, ‘A Fairy Tale About a Boy Who Left Home to Learn About Fear’, ‘The Three Brothers’, ‘Tom Thumb’, ‘The Frog Princess’, and ‘The Singing Bone’…though you don’t want the kind of triumph the hero finds in this last one!
Be patient and enjoy your youth. Your time will come.”

“Beautiful!” Simplia affirmed.  “A session with a professional storyteller would definitely help Fresno! And I love those charming old tales,” she sighed.  “Or ‘charmed.’  Which is it?  They are charming, because they charm people, but they are also charmed, enchanted, right?  charmed by…something.  Or someone, like…O-o-oh!”

“Calm down!” Sagacia interrupted. “Calm down!  Have a sip of tea!  And, here! Look what Charles Kiernan has to say about that.”

Dear Frustrated in Fresno,
Don’t you know? Third time is the charm. You may think your brothers are charming, but they are not charmed.  You and your third brother predecessors are charmed.

You say your brothers are clever? Perhaps, but they have not the wisdom of simplicity. That too belongs to the thirdlings.

Handsome? Handsome is as handsome does.

I have touted some old truisms above, but like fairy tales, they remain in our collection of valued baubles, there to be admired, taken out, and handled once again.

True, all you third sons lack what your elder brothers have in plenty. You lack ambition, conceit, and discontent. You lack the focus need to strive toward your purpose and not be diverted by the needs of others. None of these notions occur to you.

That the rest of us could be unfettered by elder brother thoughts, then we too could become true royalty—royalty by deed rather than birth—as you are destined to become. Therein lies your worth.

“Now that’s something Frustrated in Fresno needs to hear!” Simplia agreed.  “Come on! Let’s pack up these letters and send them to him!”

“Okay.  You get the paper and string, and I’ll get my scissors,” said Sagacia.  “Oh, dear!  Have you seen my scissors?”

What is the question our magical friends are responding to? Check the sidebar for the current month’s question and find previous FT?oM in the “Dear Vasilisa the Wise” page tab above Vasilisa’s portrait.