Storytelling Help for Parents in the Era of COVID-19 and Sharing the ongoing story: The Secret Prince
You’ve stocked up on essentials: hand sanitizer and toilet paper, and you’ve got a cupboard with non-perishable food including enough pasta to feed your neighborhood. But your neighbors won’t be visiting anytime soon.
If you have children, here’s one more thing to add to your list of essentials in this era of solitude: stories, especially stories that you create yourself to help your kids cope with unexpected changes in their daily lives.
The Secret Prince is an ongoing story meant to support the inner journey of children in this time of solitude. You will find the first five chapters below. My goal is to add a new chapter each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I hope your child(rens) aged four through twelve, find The Secret Prince helps to normalize staying home for many days.
The story shows a child whose independent spirit helps him deal with being stuck inside for weeks. This story has no mention of disease; it’s about a boy who has to stay inside due to flooding. It’s not an explanation for why we are practicing social distancing. By now your child already knows why their daily routines are different. The question now for most children is not so much why as how to re-imagine their daily lives.
Over the last two decades, children have become increasingly programmed. And now, suddenly, they have no school, no after school activities, no trips to their favorite stores or restaurants. This is a great opportunity for children to discover that they are inventive and resilient. I’m hoping this story (and the ones you make up yourself) will help to scaffold children’s self-motivation and creativity during a time when they lack their normal routines.
Storytelling is effective because it relies on showing rather than telling. Showing a child taking up up sewing or jumping rope is far more likely to inspire your child than a direct suggestion such as, “Just go jump rope.”
Please change the story to make it your own. Change the main character’s name or gender. Add story lines, add characters etc. If you make big changes, it might work better to tell the story instead of reading it. Another way to use this story is to see it as an example that helps you write your own helping story.
Ready to make up your own stories to help your child cope with a challenging situation? Here are some tips that may help:
1 Start telling the story with no introduction.
2 Avoid any reference to why you are telling the story.
3 When necessary, have the courage to make up the story as you are telling it.
4 Avoid pointing out the moral in the story.
5 Plan stories in advance when you can.
6 Create an ongoing cover story that you can use to incorporate healing themes. Add to this story daily if possible.
7 One of the best times to tell stories is when driving.
8 Use true stories from your own childhood and classic stories from literature if they fit the situation.
9 Stress the positive. A story about a person who transforms to become someone who is more caring, helpful, attentive or brave is more effective than a story about a person whose faults cause them to fail. Include a focus on powerful moments of insight and transformation.
10 You can tie stories together by having a character in the cover story tell a story you make up or story you learn from a book.
Kim Allsup, author and teacher
Chapter One ~ The Magic Shirt
Nobody at school knew that Ronduin was the young prince who lived in the great, golden castle that was so tall that its towers could be seen from the village. He had drawers full of peasant clothes which he wore on school days. And he insisted that the royal knight, Sir Andrew, who brought him to the village school also wear peasant clothing and hitch the horses to a plain old wooden wagon. Even then Ronduin was concerned that Andrew and the sleek royal horses might be recognized, so every morning he stepped out of the cart and onto a path through the forest that led into the village.
Each morning Ronduin ran down this forest path as fast as his legs could carry him. He ran along the lake, then along the river and then into the village where the bakers and the potters and the tinsmiths waved to him. He called out “Good Day!” to each of them. All this running had made him strong and fast. When the school bell rang at the end of the day, he ran back to Sir Andrew who had returned with the cart.
One day each year, when winter had melted away, all the schools in all the villages joined together to hold a great festival. Each school paraded to the fair grounds. They carried banners and streamers and pushed carts loaded with food. Each school’s fastest runners led their parade and were first to reach the great field where they joyously ran laps together celebrate the coming of birds and blossoms, of warm breezes and green grass. Ronduin looked forward to this Spring Festival all year long. He enjoyed the day of singing and dancing and eating and making new friends. But, above all, he looked forward to the running. Ronduin loved to run.
One cloudy day, as Ronduin ran through the forest toward the old wooden cart, his legs told him they wanted to keep running. So, when he reached Sir Andrew, he said, “Please may I keep running?”
“Can you meet me at the great oak tree at the end of this road?” Sir Andrew, said, “Feels like rain is coming but if you don’t mind getting a little wet, that’s fine with me.”
Ronduin ran fast and free down the dirt road. He didn’t mind when soft rain began to fall. Dark clouds covered the sky as Ronduin climbed into the cart, and as, they rode through the gate into the castle courtyard, the sky opened up with a huge downpour.
It rained all evening and, when Ronduin sat in the great dining hall with his parents, the King and the Queen, water began seeping in under the door to the courtyard. Ronduin laughed at the invading puddle, but soon, as servants entered the dining hall with mops and many buckets, he realized this was no laughing matter. Then, suddenly, before they had finished their meal, all manner of advisors lined up to tell the queen and the king about flooding in the courtyard and the roads, about leaks in many areas of the castle and about wind knocking down trees, blocking travel into the village.
Ronduin awoke to the sound of rain the next morning. He looked out the window at a courtyard full of water. Sir Andrew appeared at his door and told him that he would not be going to school that day for the roads were flooded and blocked by fallen trees. He told him that breakfast would be served in the sitting room of the family living quarters because the great dining hall at the ground level had become a pond.
That morning as they ate day old bread in the family quarters for the cooks were busy bailing water from the kitchen. Neither the king nor the queen knew that they would all be stuck in the castle for three more weeks. They could not yet know that the rain would continue for three more days, that it would take weeks to clear the roads using axes and handsaws and that the lake and river would spill over their banks for weeks to come.
But ,that morning as he ate cheese and bread with butter and marmalade, and drank a glass of cider, Ronduin had only one question for his parents: “Where can I run inside the castle?”
“Not the halls,” said the king. “They are wet and slippery.”
“Not the stairs,” said the queen.”The main stairway is like waterfall and the smaller stairways and the halls are full of servants carrying buckets.”
“Not the courtyard,” said the queen. “It’s an even deeper pond.”
“Best you should spend the day here in this room where you won’t be underfoot. You will be able to run another day,” said the king.
“There’s plenty of cider and bread and cheese. Eat when you are hungry,” said his mother, the queen. ” I am glad I can trust you to stay here today. Your father and I will be busy supervising the staff. We must move the kitchen and clean up lots of water.”
“And figure out how to repair the roof,” said the king who took his last sip of tea and hurriedly left the room with the queen.
Now Ronduin sat alone in a beautiful room with golden curtains and blue velvet chairs. Great paintings of kings and queens of old looked down at him and the maroon carpet and the silver candle holders holding brightly lit candles that did little to bring cheer to the dreary day.
Ronduin stood then slowly walked around the room attempting to find a running course. The second time he made the loop around the room, he walked faster, and the third time he broke into a very slow run. He speeded up and his foot caught the edge of a carpet, throwing him forward toward a lit candle. Ronduin reached his arm out and grabbed the candlestick as he fell toward it. Luckily the fast motion flicked out the flame. He landed hard on the floor with the candle in his hand, dripping wax on his shirt.
Ronduin re-lit the candle by touching its wick to a burning candle and set it on the table. He rubbed his knee which was sore from the fall. Then he limped to the tall window and sat on the floor staring forlornly at the pouring rain. The sound of the rain slapping the window filled his ears, but, in the distance, he also heard the sounds of the castle. Servants, sometimes shouting to each other about the new leaks and growing flooding, pounded up and down the hallways carrying buckets and mops. Sometimes he heard the voice of the king or the queen giving orders to their busy helpers.
After some time, Ronduin looked about the room for something to do. He was a child who always played outside. When he wasn’t running, he was usually throwing a ball or swinging on the swing in the courtyard. Sometimes he helped the gardeners push heavy wheelbarrows or plant rose bushes. And, of course, most days he went to school. But today, alone in a big room full of furniture where there was absolutely nothing to do and nobody to play with, Roduin, was bored and he was lonely.
Ronduin had never been bored or lonely. Now he began to walk back and forth in the room, slowly this time so he wouldn’t knock over any candles.
Next to his mother’s chair he noticed the big wooden box where she kept her sewing. Ronduin took off the cover and carefully removed layer after layer of unfinished projects which he laid on the carpet in a great circle. Soon he was surrounded by lovely embroidered flowers , a partially finished dark green velvet vest, stacks of bright cloth, piles of bright spools of thread, and bunches of ribbons. At the very bottom of the deep box he found his old linen shirt with a ripped hem. A long thread with needle still attached hung from place where the repair had begun.
Ronduin had never even held a needle. But he had the idea that he could finish this repair job. He had watched his mother push the needle in and out. Now he did what he had seen her do. He even remembered watching her tie off the end of the thread so it wouldn’t unravel. He found some scissors and snipped the thread and then it was done.
Ronduin removed his wax-stained shirt, put on the repaired one and walked to a tall mirror with a golden frame. And there he was, wearing a shirt he had mended himself. He had done it out of boredom, just as a way to stay busy. But, suddenly, unexpectedly, Ronduin felt an unexpected surge of energy and happiness.
“I guess it’s now my magic shirt,” thought Ronduin.
Wearing his magic shirt, he walked back to the window. The rain continued to pelt the glass panes. But it wasn’t the rain that grabbed Ronduin’s attention. It was the curtains. They were held back by thick cords. Ronduin removed cords from a few curtains and tied them together to make a long rope. He stepped on the center of the rope and held up both ends at the level of his shoulders. Now all he needed was an area of the floor with no furniture.
He realized that the contents of the sewing box covered the area of the floor that he would need, so he carefully placed all the items back in the box. Then he puzzled for a few moments about how to rearrange furniture in a way that made sense and also left an empty area. A few minutes of pushing and shoving heavy chairs and end tables created exactly what he wanted.
Ronduin wasted no time. He hopped into the center of the new empty area. He grasped the rope at just the right spots, swung it over his head and down to his feet and jumped. Ronduin had never jumped rope, but he had seen older children at school doing this. It had looked easy, but now he discovered it was hard. He tripped again and again, but he didn’t give up. At first he could jump two times without tripping, then three times, then four times. Ronduin practiced and practiced without stopping until he could jump 100 times without tripping. Stopping to take a rest after jumping to 100 three times, Ronduin realized he was sweating and breathing hard.
“Jumping rope is a lot like running,” he thought.
Now Ronduin was hungry. He took the cloth off the block of cheese and sliced himself a big chunk. He ripped off a large piece of bread which he covered with butter and marmalade. He was so hungry that he was not concerned at all that his lunch was the same as his breakfast.
When he was done eating he realized something was different. At first he didn’t know what it was. He listened. The sounds coming from the hallway were the same. But sound of rain had stopped.
The curtains were closed because Ronduin had used the cords that held them back to make his jump rope. Ronduin waked over to the windows and pulled back one of the curtains. Thick grey clouds filled the sky, but the rain had stopped falling. He looked down and his eyes grew wide. The castle was entirely surrounded by water. It was as if the castle sat in the middle of a wide lake.
Ronduin stood at the window for a long time looking at what felt like a new world. He was accustomed to seeing busy people and horses and carts when he looked out this window, but today he saw only ducks bobbing on the water.
“A leak in the south turret?” It was his father’s voice just outside the door to the sitting room.
Ronduin walked toward the door, but when he opened it, he saw his father far down the hallway waking quickly with the castle engineer.
Now he looked back toward the curtains and realized that his parents would not be pleased to find that the curtains were missing their cords.
The Secret Prince: Chapter Two ~ The Golden Ribbon
Ronduin remembered the ribbons in the sewing box. He removed the lid of the box and again took out layer after layer of cloth and sewing projects until he found the ribbons near the bottom of the box.
“This wide, gold ribbon is perfect,” he thought. “It’s the only ribbon here that would look good with the golden curtains.”
He quickly cut the ribbon into four sections. Then he took one of the four ribbons and wrapped it around the curtain and tried to tie it. “Oh No! Oh No! Oh No!” he shouted even though there was nobody there to listen. He pulled hard at the ribbon as he tugged it around the bunched up curtain, but there was not enough left at each end to make a knot.
Ronduin understood his mistake. When he measured the length of ribbon he needed, he had not realized that the ribbon would have to be longer in order to tie it.
“I’ll have to give up on this ribbon idea and put back the cords that I took off the curtains… and then I won’t have a jump rope,” he thought, feeling so frustrated that he jumped up and down squeezing his hands in tight fists.
Ronduin stopped jumping when he heard the rain starting again, first with a pitter patter, then loud pounding. Suddenly, Ronduin felt cold. He saw that the fire had burned down to just a pile of coals. He walked to the fireplace and added the single, small log that remained in the woodbox. Then he sat cross legged in front of the little fire, soaking in the heat, looking at the glowing coals, watching the log slowly burst into flame.
Ronduin was a child who was always moving. Even when he was sitting, he found something to fidget with. Sitting in front of the fire, he held the hem of his shirt, the part he had repaired, between his index finger and his thumb, rubbing the cloth between his fingers. Rubbing his magic shirt gave him an idea.
Ronduin walked to the window where the golden ribbons had been dropped in a messy heap. He picked up one of the too short ribbons, then he found a needle and thread. Back in front of the fire, he threaded the needle and began stitching the two ends of the ribbon together. When he was done, he had made a loop of ribbon with no beginning and no end. Next he bunched up the curtain and fed the bottom edge through the loop. Carefully, he tugged the loop up the bunched up curtain. It was a tight fit, but it worked!
Ronduin stood back and looked at the golden curtain with its new golden tie back. “I think the curtain actually looks better than it did with the cord,” he thought.
He had just finished sewing the other three tie backs, putting them on the curtains and settling everything back in the big wooden sewing box, when Sir Andrew entered the room carrying an armload of firewood.
“I’m just in time I see,” said Sir Andrew noticing the empty wood bin and a dwindling fire. “Your parents asked me to find out if you need anything and to tell you about what’s happening in the castle.”
“I can hear a lot of commotion,” said Ronduin.
“The bottom floor is completely flooded,” said Sir Andrew as he unloaded the wood into the wood bin and put a log on the fire. “This is the only room on the top floor that’s not wet. The hallways on this level are leaking too. As soon as the rain stops, we have to replace most of the roof.”
“Most of the castle has three floors,” said Ronduin. “Since the middle floor is dry, can I go down there and run through the halls?”
“There’s no longer any space for running on the middle floor,” said Sir Andrew. “The halls are a drying area for wet curtains and bedding. The rooms are crowded with extra furniture from the other floors. Right now everyone is either emptying buckets or carrying wet furniture to the middle floor.”
Sir Andrew and Ronduin both walked to the windows and stood watching the rain fall.
“So I’m stuck in this room,” said Ronduin.
“Looks like it,” said Sir Andrew. “I was talking to Agnes the cook. She said this long storm reminded her of the time the river flooded when she was a child. She remembered that it took three weeks before the dry land appeared. She thinks this is happening again.”
“Three weeks without school?” asked Ronduin.
“I wouldn’t be surprised,” said Sir Andrew turning and picking up Ronduin’s jump rope form the floor.
“What’s this?” he asked.
“My jump rope,” said Ronduin. “I made it from the curtain cords. And I made new curtain tie backs with ribbon.”
Sir Andrew smiled as he inspected the ribbon tie backs. “I think your parents will approve,” he said.
The Secret Prince: Chapter Three ~ Pease Porridge Hot
(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.)
“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: 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 email@example.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,
The Secret Prince: Chapter Four ~ Pease Porridge Cold
Ronduin woke to the sound of rain against the window panes and the plink, plink plink of water dripping into seven buckets that had been positioned to catch the leaks in his room. He knew his bed would stay dry because it was a secure little niche, a little room within his room with its own wooden ceiling. It had gray curtains and warm, wool blankets.
In the hallway he found Sir Andrew working on building a wooden platform.
“Good day!” said Sir Andrew cheerfully.
“Good day,” said Ronduin. “What are you making?’
“As soon as the rain stops we’ll make roof repairs. This is scaffolding to help us get up to the roof,” said Sir Andrew.
Ronduin looked up and down the damp hallway and saw other workers building scaffolding. “I guess I won’t be running in this hall,” he thought.
Ronduin’s parents, the King and Queen, were already sitting at the table when Ronduin quietly entered the sitting room. They were deep in conversation and appeared not to notice him.
“Agnes said that after the last big flood they sent workers back to the village as soon as the storm stopped,” said the Queen. “They used the rowboat as a ferry right away because they knew that, once water got lower than knee deep, the boat would get stuck in the mud.”
“All the workers except Agnes have families in the village,” said the King. “We will send them home with food and dry cloth and seeds to plant.”
“What about fixing the roof!” asked Ronduin, approaching the table.
“The roofers will be in the last boatload,” said the Queen, who reached out and gave him a hug.
“It will be a quick temporary repair made of wood,” said the King, smiling at Ronduin as a greeting. “This summer we’ll get slate and fix it properly. But soon we need to send everyone home so they can take care of their families.”
“They’ll have to work fast to get out before we’re surrounded by mud,” said the Queen. “Agnes said that, after the last flood, the high water kept them in for weeks and then they were stuck in the castle for many more weeks, not because of high water but because neither horses nor humans could walk through the deep, thick mud. They would sink up to their knees and get stuck.”
Ronduin walked over to the fireplace and poked a wooden spoon deeply into the pease porridge. “Sort of deep and thick like this cold porridge?,” asked Ronduin.
The King and Queen laughed. “Cold mud for breakfast sounds rather dismal,” said the King.
“Would you prefer hot mud for breakfast?” asked the Queen.
The all laughed as they scooped heaps of cold pease porridge into their wooden bowls.
‘This is a simple meal, “said the Queen. “But we are thankful for it.”
“Let us bow our heads in gratitude for this Providence,” said the King.
After a moment of quiet, Ronduin began to eat.
The Queen spoke the verse Ronduin remembered learning when he had been very small.
Pease porridge hot
Pease porridge cold
Pease porridge in the pot
Nine Days Old
Some like it hot
Some like it cold
Some like it in the pot
Nine days old
When the verse was done, he stopped eating and smiled at his mom, facing her and putting his hands out in front of him. She returned his smile and together they clapped the old nursery rhyme just as they had done so many years ago when he had been but a toddler.
Pease porridge hot
Pease porridge cold
Pease porridge in the pot
Nine Days Old
Some like it hot
Some like it cold
Some like it in the pot
Nine days old
When Ronduin was little he had always said, “Again?” at the end of the rhyme and his mother had always agreed to say the rhyme over and over until she tired of the game. This time it was the Queen who said, “Again?’
They both laughed and Ronduin said, “I’m hungry. Maybe later.”
“It’s another day for you to stay in this room,” said Ronduin’s father.
“You can eat cold porridge,” said his mom. “And remember to feed the fire. Andrew told me you’ve taken up sewing. You may use the cloth in my sewing box.”
Andrew felt the hem of his linen shirt and was about to show his parents his careful stitching, but the sound of rain and the howl of wind caught his attention. And then, as he rubbed the hem between his fingers and thumb, the sounds of rain and wind stopped. He and his parents looked at each other in surprise and the whole family walked together to the window.
Looking out they saw the sun peeking through the clouds. Ronduin was about to say, “Finally, the storm has ended,” when the rain resumed, softly at first and then harder until it was pounding. Ronduin sighed.
“Your mother and I and all the workers in the castle have much to accomplish today. We are glad you are old enough to look after yourself.”
The King gave Ronduin a quick hug and then he and the Queen stepped out of the sitting room and Ronduin was, again, alone for the day.
Afterthoughts for parents: The end of this chapter is a good time to ask your child what they think Ronduin might do on his second rainy day alone. You could also ask your child to help you remember the previous chapters. I might incorporate children’s ideas if you send them to me, but please don’t mention that possibility to them. Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
With wishes for robust health,
Note to parent readers: Your child may know the nursery rhymes at the opening of this story. I chose rhymes that go back to Medieval times so they would carry a hint of historical accuracy. Speaking these rhymes together with your child could be soothing for some children who may even want to repeat the rhymes more than once.
Some children might even want to try jumping rope with these rhymes. Consider finding a jump rope (or jump rope substitute) and leaving it in a visible place, but don’t over encourage. My hope is to inspire independent initiative in the children who connect with this story.
The Secret Prince: Chapter Five ~ Rain, Rain Go Away
Ronduin picked up his jump rope and began jumping, but, this time, instead of counting, he jumped to the rhythm of the verse he had said with his mother.
Pease porridge hot
Pease porridge cold
Pease porridge in the pot
Nine Days Old
Some like it hot
Some like it cold
Some like it in the pot
Nine days old
He did this over and over until he had to stop and catch his breath. And then he rested and began again. He had a lot of running energy to put into his jumping.
After some time, Roduin was tired of saying this verse, but he was not tired of jumping. He searched his mind for more rhymes. He tried:
To market, to market, to buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again, jiggety-jig.
To market, to market, to buy a fat hog,
Home again, home again, jiggety-jog.
To market, to market, to buy a plum bun,
Home again, home again, market is done.
Ronduin had to speak this verse three times while jumping in order to work out a speaking rhythm that matched his jumps. Once he had the rhythm figured out, he jumped while speaking this verse many times until he was very thirsty.
A brown earthenware pitcher of well water sat on a small table near the windows. Ronduin poured water into a cup and swallowed it in big gulps. Outside, the sky poured great gulps of water toward the earth, which was unable to swallow it, unable to let any more water into the earth, for the soil was already fully soaked.
Now, another verse popped into Ronduin’s mind.
Rain, rain, go away
Come again another day
For Prince Ronduin wants to play.
Ronduin sat cross legged in front of the window watching the rain and listening to the ever-changing singing voice of the wind. He found himself adding his own tune to the verse.
Rain, rain, go away
Come again another day
For Prince Ronduin wants to play.
Ronduin sat for a very long time, singing all the songs he knew, songs he had learned from troubadours, from his mother, from his teacher. After some time he was hungry and he scooped a lump of pease porridge cold out of the pot into his wooden bowl and filled his cup with water. He ate and he drank, put a log on the fire and went back to sitting at the window.
Something felt so familiar about singing at this window. Now he suddenly remembered many times when he had been very small, long before he knew any of the songs sung at court, sitting at this same window, singing, always singing, making up little songs about rainbows and twinkling stars, about green grass and chirpy birds and his love for all things that grow under the sun.
Smiling as he remembered the little boy he had once been, Ronduin’s fingers found the hem of his shirt and softly began to sing, making up the words and the tune.
Sun, sun come back today
Please come back so I can play
And run by rivers and climb a tree
Listen dear sun to my plea
As he finished singing his little song, the rain stopped. The bright disc peaked out between the clouds and cause the new lake in front of the castle to sparkle. Five ducks appeared. They formed a circle and chased each other round and round.
Ronduin smiled at the ducks and then he remembered that his parents had said that, as soon as they rain stopped, they would send the rowboat to the village.
“I wonder whether they noticed that the sun came out,” he thought. “They are too busy to be looking out windows. I better find them and tell them.”
In a flash, Ronduin had left the room and was walking fast through the hallway, dodging scaffolding and people carrying buckets, mops, hammers, and pieces of wood. Even though it had stopped raining, the roof still leaked and by the time he had walked all the halls on the upper floor, his hair was wet and he still had not seen his mother or his father or Sir Andrew.
Ronduin took the stairs down to the middle floor where he discovered the hallways were so full of furniture that he had to carefully wend his way around chairs and chests, and huge paintings leaning against heavy tables.
Onions. Ronduin smelled onions cooking. He followed this scent around a corner and into a room that had once been a grand sitting room where his parents met visiting dignitaries. Now it had become a temporary kitchen. The room was darkened by thick curtains, but a bright fire lit one side of the room. Here a big table covered with bowls, heaps of carrots and potatoes, black pots and cloth sacks stood in front of the hearth where Agnes stirred a big, black iron pot with a wooden spoon. She looked up and smiled.
“Ronduin,” she said. “Come, dear and stir this pot while I cut potatoes.”
“Have you seen the king and queen?” he asked as he took the spoon and began stirring the boiling, onion-scented liquid. “The rain stopped and they said that means we must rush to send people to town in the rowboat,” he said excitedly.
Agnes, a slightly bent old woman with white hair pulled up in a bun, moved slowly toward the window and drew back the curtain. Sunlight streamed into the room, lighting the objects on the table.
“It seems like months since we’ve seen sun,” said Agnes, though it’s only been two days.
Just then the door to the room swung open so forcefully that it banged against the wall. Looking agitated, Sir Andrew stepped in and shouted, “Ronduin’s missing.”
“No I’m not,” said Ronduin. “I’m right here stirring the pot. I was looking for you because you need to know that the rain stopped.”
Sir Andrew rushed to the window and said, “time to make ready the boat. If the rain holds off, we can get the first boatload to town by dark. Agnes, can you spare this young lad? I can use his help.”
“Of course,” said Agnes as the King and Queen entered the room.
Suddenly, it occurred to Ronduin that his parents might be unhappy with him for leaving the upstairs sitting room even though it had been for a good reason. He looked closely at his mother’s expression. He knew her well enough to see in her calm expression that she had not heard that he was missing.
“It’s stopped raining,” announced Sir Andrew. “I need Prince Ronduin to help ready the boat.”
“Certainly,” said the King, looking at Ronduin with a gleam in his eye. “Ronduin is certainly old enough to begin doing real work.”
Ronduin smiled. After a rainy days alone, real work sounded very good.
More to come from the brilliant Kim Allsup…
~ The Author ~
Kim Allsup’s childhood wonder years inspired her first career as an environmentalist and her second career as a Waldorf teacher. She was the founding staff member of the Buzzard Bay Coalition and a founding parent of the Waldorf School of Cape Cod. A graduate of Brown University and Antioch University (M.Ed), she served as a Waldorf class teacher, on Cape Cod and at the Pine Hill Waldorf School, for 22 years. She is currently a writer, an advisor to teachers and a gardening teacher pioneering the use of school sunhouses. She lives on Cape Cod with her husband and blogs at Growing Children.
She is the author of A Gift of Wonder, A True Story Showing School as it Should Be