These stories are intended to be shared with your other children, to initiate discussion about brothers and sisters with special needs.
(To help adolescents and teens understand the reasons for carrying this child to term)
On all the small planet of Jesera, Lissanda was the only kingdom which could grow Melody Fruit. Kings and queens, princes and princesses, dukes and duchesses placed orders months in advance for Melody Fruit. The farmers of Lissandra grew prosperous and efficient in producing enough Melody Fruit to satisfy the entire Jesera market.
Young Orans had learned the art of growing Melody Fruit from his father who had learned it from his father who had learned it from his father as far back as generations could remember. He knew well the signs of healthy fruit on the sprawling vines. First the green buttons that budded into five petal, sky blue blossoms which, fertilized by the honey bees of Lissandra, would produce small orange bumps that swelled like balloons to produce glimmering orange orbs the size of basket balls. After one hundred days, one by one, ripe Melody Fruit would ease away from the vines. Then farmers like Orans would pack them ever so carefully and fill their orders. Kings and queens, princes and princesses, dukes and duchesses would carefully lift the Melody Fruit from its soft packing material and would toss them sky ward where they would be caught by the winds and gently open into five pointed orange stars. As they opened, the most exquisite melodies would burst from the opening fruits--melodies of dance and song, of sun and laughter, of scented pine and cinnamon and of glittering, glistening rivers.
Occasionally a strange twist of fate struck a Melody blossom and the fruit budded into a wizened black bump. If left to grow, no glimmering orange orb would ever develop but only a wrinkled, misshapen ball. Back as far as anyone could remember, farmers plucked these aberrations from the vines and threw them aside. As they did so, the stricken Melody Fruit would open, emitting a dirge of death and darkness, fear and despair, end without hope.
Orans had never seen a stricken Melody Fruit fall from the vine of its own accord. He wondered if it would happen. So one year when one of his vines developed a stricken fruit, he did not pluck it early but allowed it to grow. Every day he watched it, growing more accustomed to its darkness and its wrinkles as the days drifted on. As his workers tended the vines, they would remark to him, "Sir, there is a stricken fruit on that vine. Shall I pluck it off?"
"No," Orans would say.
"But it is stricken. It is taking nourishment from the other Melody Fruit."
"I do not see them being harmed," Orans noted.
"They must be harmed. Surely some of the vine's strength is going into a fruit that will be forever tainted."
"I want to let it grow until it leaves the vine itself," Orans would explain.
"Because that is the way it was with Melody Fruit before man began to cultivate them."
The workers would shrug and move on to their tasks, certain that their employer was, perhaps, a bit crazy.
Every day Orans came to check his vines. Every day the Melody Fruit grew, the orange ones into larger and larger balloon like, glittering fruit and the wizened one into larger and larger shriveled fruit. Yet Orans sensed that the stricken fruit was even more different than it appeared. When Orans touched the shriveled fruit, his soul shivered with emotions he had never felt before. They puzzled him.
After one hundred days, the fruits gently pulled away from their vines. The fully ripe orange orbs were plucked, packed, and shipped until only one wizened, dark ball was left in all Orans' field. As the sun was dipping low in the sky and the workers were departing, Orans picked the wrinkled mass from the earth and studied it. Surely it was a Melody Fruit. Here and there he could see glimmers of light and slathers of orange. He held it long, feeling the inexplicable magic of its difference. Then, as if from the Melody Fruit itself, Orans heard a silent command. "Release me."
"Be released," he called as he tossed the shriveled ball skyward where the winds could catch it. Gently the dark skin opened into five sagging points and a song poured out. The melody was one which Orans had never heard before, not from any of his other Melody Fruits or those of his father or grandfather. It was a song of pain conquered by joy, of despair drowned in victory, of death reborn into life. The song surrounded Orans and pierced to his soul like a golden arrow, searing there virtues he had long desired but never attained--patience, courage, trust, love.
Gradually the Melody Fruit dissipated into the air as all Melody Fruits do. The song faded as all melodies fade. When all was silent and the sky clear, nothing remained of the Melody Fruit. Yet in Orans' soul for forever were patience, courage, trust, and love.
Orans would never be the same.
1. What was the common concept of Melody Fruit?
2. Why were Melody Fruit so valuable?
3. What occasionally happened to a Melody Fruit? What did farmers do to these blighted fruits?
4. What did Orans decide to do with a blighted Melody Fruit?
5. What reactions did he get when he made his decision?
6. Why did Orans decide to let the Melody Fruit grow?
7. What do you think Orans meant when he said, "Because that is the way it was with Melody Fruit before man began to cultivate them?" Do you think Orans was saying that, in nature, some Melody Fruit were blighted and that there must have been a reason for that, even if farmers did not know what it was?
8. What was the gift of the blighted Melody Fruit?
9. What gifts do you think your brother or sister might bring to this family? Do you think we may be surprised by them?
10. Do you think the gifts Orans received from the blighted Melody Fruit might be some of the ones we will receive as a family, from this brother or sister? Why do you think this?
LITTLE BEAR WITH GREEN FUR
(To get a young child to confide any negative feelings about a sibling who has changed the family makeup)
Hannah bear had a good life with Mom and Dad Bear. They taught Hannah to climb trees and to find honey. Every day, Mom and Dad and Hannah took a stroll through the forest down to the stream. There Hannah would lie in the water and watch the fish swim by. Sometimes she would catch one.
One day Mom Bear didn't come out of her cave. Dad Bear explained that Mother wasn't feeling well that day. That evening, Hannah heard a weak whimper from the cave and Mother called out, "Baby Bear is here." Hannah and Daddy rushed in to see Baby Bear. He was small and black and wet. And he whimpered. Mother explained that soon he would be climbing trees and finding honey and lolling in the stream with Hannah.
Many weeks went by, but Baby Bear did not grow much. His legs did not seem to work well. He never walked out of the cave and so he could not climb a tree or find honey or loll in the stream. Mother Bear stayed home with Baby all the time. Now Hannah and Father Bear had to walk the woods alone.
Hannah tried to play with Baby Bear, but he only looked up at her and whimpered. She would nudge him with her nose and he would laugh. But he could not play.
Hannah loved Baby Bear, but sometimes she wished he could play with her like the baby bear brothers and sisters of Hannah's friends played with them. Sometimes she wished he would die so that Mother Bear could go down to the stream again. Sometimes she wanted life to be like it had been. But she did not want to worry Mother and Father. She never told them how she sometimes felt about Baby Bear.
One day Father Bear said, "Hannah, a penny for your thoughts."
Hannah stopped chasing a butterfly long enough to tell Father that she had no thoughts.
"Hmm," Father said, "that is very odd because I have lots of thoughts. Sometimes I think how much fun Mother and you and I had before Baby Bear was born. Sometimes I am sorry those days are gone."
Hannah came up to Father Bear and nuzzled his big, black paw. "Sometimes I feel like that, too," she said.
"I know," said Father, "and I am glad you told me. Do you know what I think? I think we can work to make those days happen again."
"How?" asked Hannah. "Baby Bear cannot walk with us and he cannot be left alone."
"Then we will carry him," Father said. "I am big and strong and Baby Bear can ride on my back."
"But he will fall off," Hannah said.
"Mother Bear can tie him on my back with vines."
"Do you think Mother will let us try?"
"Let's ask her," Father said. And so they did.
Mother agreed. And now Father and Mother, Hannah and Baby stroll through the forest. They climb trees and eat honey. They loll in the stream and watch the fish go by. Baby Bear still can't walk. But he can blow bubbles. And he and Hannah laugh and laugh and laugh.
1. What was life like for Hannah before Baby Bear came?
2. How did life change for Hannah?
3. What were Hannah's feelings about Baby Bear? Did these surprise you?
4. Why didn't she want to talk about them?
5. How did Father sometimes feel about Baby Bear? Did his feelings surprise you?
6. What feelings do you have about _________ (name of sibling)? Are they like Hannah's?
7. Do you think Mommy and Daddy sometimes feel like Father Bear?
8. What do you wish we could do with ______________ (name of sibling)?
9. How do you think we could try to make that happe