(Note to parents about to read this to a child. I included some math in this chapter that might be interesting for a child in first, second or even third grade if they are learning times tables. If you are reading this to a younger child, you might want to skip the bold section with numbers.)
If you are new to this story, please start here at Chapter 1 https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/childrengrowing.com/1474
Chapter Three Pease Porridge Hot
“The queen told me to tell you that she and the king will be back at dinner time,” said Sir Andrew as he walked toward the door. “She told me to remind you to learn your numbers.”
As he stepped out the door, Sir Andrew added, “and remember to feed the fire.”
And then Ronduin was alone again with his ancestors, queens and kings, looking down at him from paintings. Ronduin looked up at the painting of King Ronduin, the great-great-grandfather whose name he carried.
Ronduin spoke to the picture of his ancestor as if he could hear him. “Agnes the cook said that, when she was a child, the river overflowed, and they were stuck in this castle for a long time. Did you ever get stuck in this castle?”
The room was quiet except for the sound of rain pounding on the window. Ronduin’s hand reached to the hem of his shirt and, as he grasped it between his thumb and his index finger, he heard a voice speaking to him in his mind.
“Ask your parents. They will tell you about the history of this castle and all the times when your ancestors had to stay within for may weeks.”
Ronduin didn’t know whether the message from his great-great-grandfather was real or whether it was his mind tricking him.
Ronduin put a log on the fire and then his legs wanted to run. He almost repeated the mistake of trying to run around the room, but then he remembered his jump rope. He counted as he jumped. “One, Two, Three, Four, Five.” Then he tripped. Frustrated, he started jumping again and counted “Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten” and he tripped again. This time he was determined not to trip. Again, Ronduin jumped while counting, “Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen…” He called out Fifteen loudly and was happy when he did not trip as he continued counting Sixteen, Seventeen, Eighteen, Nineteen, Twenty. Ronduin did not trip, but he stopped.
“Mother said to learn numbers,” he thought. “Maybe I can do that while I jump rope.”
Ronduin started jumping again. This time he whispered, “one, two three, four” and then he shouted, “Five.” He continued whispering four numbers then shouting the fifth number. “Six, seven eight nine, Ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, Fifteen, sixteen seventeen eighteen, nineteen, Twenty. Ronduin repeated this pattern all the way up to 100. Then he repeated it all over again. He took a rest and noticed that King Ronduin appeared to be looking at him with curiosity. Feeling the hem of his shirt, he heard King Ronduin again speak directly to his mind. This time he thought he heard him say “Jump higher when you shout.”
Ronduin repeated the pattern of four jumps followed by a shout with a higher jump.
1 2 3 4 FIVE
6 7 8 9 TEN
11 12 13 14 FIFTEEN
16 17 18 19 TWENTY
21 22 23 24 TWENTY-FIVE
26 27 28 29 THIRTY
31 32 33 34 THIRTY-FIVE
36 37 38 39 FORTY
41 42 43 44 FORTY-FIVE
46 47 48 49 FIFTY
51 52 53 54 FIFTY-FIVE
56 57 58 59 SIXTY
When he reached sixty, he heard sounds in the hallway. Ronduin stopped and listened, hoping his parents would arrive. And, sure enough, his mother walked through the door followed by two servants. They each carried one end of a thick wooden rod. Suspended from this wooden rod hung a big, round, black pot with steam rising from it. The two servants placed the big pot over the fire on the iron chimney crane and quickly left the room. The queen placed three bowls on the table as the king entered.
Soon, Ronduin sat with his parents, listening to the storm and eating pease porridge with bread. Looking at the portrait of the king who carried his name, Ronduin said, “Sir Andrew told me that Agnes said that this is not the first time the castle was surrounded by water.”
“I was just a babe the last time the river flooded this much. And, over the centuries, my ancestors were stuck here in this castle for weeks at a time for various reasons. My father spoke of a week long snow storm. They were stuck here for weeks more after that until the roads were dug out during a big freeze. My father also told me the legend about his father, King Ronduin. It was said that he was once stuck here with his family for many months when a dragon lurked around the castle and the village. I don’t know if the dragon was real or if it was imagined. But, I do know that since then the cooks have always kept many barrels of dried pease just in case people couldn’t get out of the castle to get food.”
“I hope you like pease porridge,” said Ronduin’s mother,”because we will likely be eating it every day.”
“I like it a lot,” said Ronduin, scraping the bottom of his bowl.
After thoughts for parents Please return for subsequent chapters. These will be published on the Growing Children WordPress site and the Growing Children Facebook page. If you subscribe to the email list on Growing Children, you will get an email when each new chapter appears.
I’m writing this in the same way I’ve told healing stories to children at school and at home for decades. My goals for this ongoing story are to normalize the experience of being stuck at home and to empower children to find their own creative ways to live in an unexpected new life structure. I don’t have an exact picture of where the story is going and I will likely adjust the story to reflect a longer confinement if, in the real world of spring 2020, it is recommended that we all stay at home for an extended period.
I am assuming that parents will read these chapters to their children. Let me know if your older children want to read this on their own. I am considering posting a separate version of the story without these notes for parents.
In a classroom situation I often work in themes with individual children i mind. Please email me at Kallsup@aol.com if you have something you would like addressed in the story or have an idea about what I could add that would make your child feel a connection to the story. I can’t promise to describe every Teddy Bear or give a character a struggle similar to your child’s, but I’ll try.
Wishing you and your family good health and hopeful spirits,
Find Chapter Four here: https://childrengrowing.com/2020/03/20/the-secret-prince-chapter-four-pease-porridge-cold/