Wednesday, January 23, 2013

1.23.2013 Word! Blog Hop | Mrs Tufts Learns How to Say No

January 16, 2013
Word! Writing Challenge Blog Hop

Word of the Week: irenic
Super Challenge: longanimity

Mrs Tufts was the cutest little mouse you ever did see. She had the daintiest whiskers and the cutest little pink button nose and her fur was that of velvet grey smoothness. Of course, she took great pride in these physical traits and spent considerable time each day grooming and making herself look her best. 

Appearance wasn't the only thing Mrs Tufts took pride in. She also took pride in her hard work ethic, her neat and tidy mouse house, and how well-kept all of her appliances and tools were. And Mrs. Tufts also admitted, with a humble bow to her head, that her cooking was hard to beat. Oh, but she could make a mean berry crumb pie and a wonderful sunflower stew!

For all Mrs Tufts conscientious ways of living, her neighbors the Rugrats were quite the opposite. Oh! What shameful shambles their house and property were in. Mrs Tufts cringed each time she had to walk past on her way to market. 

Now, in addition to all of the aforementioned positive qualities of Mrs Tufts, she also had another trait. She was quite irenic.
In this world, there are peace makers and there are peace keepers (and as to which is better, that is a whole 'nother story, but we have no time here for that) and Mrs Tufts was both. Peace must come at all costs. Or so, Mrs Tufts thought. Until she learned a valuable lesson. And that is where our story picks up. 

The Rugrats had been borrowing from Mrs Tufts for years. She was quite used to it by now and had developed a tolerant longanimity for it. They asked for her fishing poles so they could go fishing for minnows, her garden tools so they could harvest vegetables, and everything else they could think of to borrow. Being a peace keeper and never wanting people to be angry, Mrs Tufts never said anything but "Yes, of course you may" -- though I have to admit, her "Yes" had become quite grudging in recent years. 

It would be one thing if they borrowed her things, but that's not all they did. They broke them. Ruined them. Totally pulverized them. Not only did they not think of returning them, when Mrs Tufts did try to track them down, she discovered them quite ruined and unfit for further use. So Mrs Tufts kept buying new things. . . and loaning them out. . . and finding them ruined. . . and buying . . . and well, you get the idea. 

As if this wasn't bad enough, there came a day when the Rugrats began asking Mrs Tufts for her food.
It began simply enough, though by now Mrs Tufts really should have known better. They claimed the rat flu had made them too ill to cook for the past week. Having no way to prove them otherwise, Mrs Tufts handed them her just-baked pan of Swisschard Accorn casserole. The next evening, there they came again, this time claiming, that they had, had a day she just wouldn't believe and had not had time to cook their supper. But "Oh, they were so very hungry," and weakly added, "just recovering from the flu still, we really do need to eat to keep up our strength. . . " So Mrs Tufts, this time with a sigh, handed over her crockpot of Dandelion Carrot soup and a pan of her maple syrup biscuits. 

Now, if Mrs Tufts had as much courage as she did a desire to keep the peace, when the Rugrats came over around supper time the next day with a story of how they had been in a fight with a muskrat that day and the tussel had lasted into the late afternoon hourswhen they would have been starting dinner preparation, she would have firmly shut the door with an "I'm sorry but I can't help you". But she didn't.
And so, a trend was begun and every day thereafter, the Rugrats showed up at the dinner hour with some pitiful sob story as to why they hadn't been able to prepare their own supper. And every day, Mrs Tufts handed hers over. 

There came a day when Mrs Tufts noticed that she always had a headache and upset tummy and it began a good hour before the dinner hour. And with these two maladies came this deep feeling of . . . what was that?! Anger? Why Mrs Tufts had never been an angry mouse before. But this was definitely anger. It burned hot in her soul and made her think very unkind thoughts against the Rugrats.
She was so dismayed by this change in her character that her mind could not concentrate on her tasks and her once tidy home became disheveled. 

One morning, Mrs Tufts woke up as the sun was peeking in and the first thing her eyes noticed, was the world of dust floating in the rays.  "This is quite enough!", she thought to herself.  "I am not happy with this person I have become and I am certainly not happy with my resulting living conditions!" And with that, Mrs Tufts lay there in her bed and began an hour of great introspection as to how she had arrived at this dismal place. 

She then spent the next hour after that, pondering what steps she needed to get back out of that place. She realized it would take a courage she had never tapped into---but she had to. Not only for the sake of who she once was (but no longer could be for those she loved) but also for her neighbors. For you see, a light was dawning about those neighbors of hers. . . 

That evening her headache and her upset tummy kicked in at the usual time, but this time so did a resolve she had never experienced before. When the knock came to her door she took a deep breath and opened it. Before two words were even out of Mr Rugrat's mouth Mrs Tufts spoke. "Not tonight. You will not be getting my food tonight."

Mr Rugrat was so astounded he stood there with his mouth open like a great big fish. "But. . . " 
Mrs Tufts interrupted him. "No more! You will no longer get my food. And you will no longer borrow my belongings either. You must begin providing for your own family." And with that, she shut the door determinedly.   

Now habits don't die hard and the Rugrats had become so used to Mrs Tuft's provision and were so certain she couldn't really mean what she had said, they returned for the next week to ask for food. But Mrs Tufts remained firm in her response, always giving the same little speech that she had given on the first night, and then, would shut the door before they could beg her to change her mind. 

It was on day 8, as Mrs Tufts was in her garden, that she smelled grilling walnuts next door.  Wouldn't you know, but the Rugrats were making their own supper! On their own grill!

And this is where the moral of our story makes it's appearance. 

The entire, trying time that Mrs Tufts had been afraid to say "No" to her neighbors, she thought she was being kind and helping them out. But you see, in her bedroom ponderings that bright, sunny morning, she had seen something as clearly as the dust specks that had been floating around her bedroom. A light had dawned, in that light, she saw that every time she had said "Yes" to the Rugrats she hadn't done them any favors. Instead, she had been  teaching them to depend upon her provision and as they did, they had developed a lie in their own mind that they weren't capable of providing for themselves. 

It was in that long week of hunger that resulted from Mrs Tufts refusal to feed them that the Rugrats finally found some motivation. With energy that can only be fueled by great need, Tthe little Rugrats went out and gathered some  walnuts and Mrs Rugrat scoured her cupboards and made a walnut marinade. During this productivity at home, Mr Rugrat went out and bought a simple grill.
It was a delicious supper that night. One, because they were super-duper hungry but two, because the Rugrats had also learned in one short afternoon, that they were quite capable. Not only that, they could make a pretty mean grilled walnut dish! This yummy meal inspired them so much that they decided to sit down as a family and create a menu plan after they ate.
The menu plan made them realize how much equipment they needed -- and since they had never bought their own equipment in the past, always borrowing from Mrs Tufts, they had money to do so.
So from menu planning to shopping trip all in the same evening. Their shopping trip left them so excited about the things they would create with the food and tools they had purchased, that they found energy to take care of all their purchases when they got home. Taking care of these itmes made them realize how utterly filthy their house had become through the years, so they purposed to get up early the next morning and begin a deep clean. Which they did. 

It took a few days to clean their house and a few more than that to get the knack of not only home upkeep and tool and equipment care so that things lasted. And it took even more days than that to learn how to cook and bake superbly, but they learned.
They learned and they excelled and they developed a sense of healthy personal pride that can only come through personal achievement.
One day, them most wonderful thing took place. The Rugrat family took Mrs Tufts an elaborate, gourmet meal with a gift basket of garden tools, complete with a gift card tied to one of them, so she could go replace some of the things they had broken over the years. Of course she was quite surprised and delighted but of everything, her greatest emotion was relief. For she saw that the Rugrats had become self-sufficient and would no longer be relying on her for their every need.

And all because, Mrs Tufts had learned how to say "No." 

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