Stompy Runs Away

By Matha Hughes

stompy runs away

Deep in the rainforest of Africa lived a herd of elephants: Mama Elephant, Papa Elephant, Sister Elephant Lola, and Baby Elephant Stompy.
Stompy loves being the baby. She loves being loved, but does she always love others?

It was a sunny morning as Mama, Papa, Lola and Stompy, the baby elephant, shared breakfast.
“Girls,” Papa said with a big smile, “Mama has some exciting news to tell you.”
“Exciting news!” Stompy exclaimed excitedly.
“What is it, Mama?” Lola asked.
“Well, girls,” Mama said, “I’ll be going away for a whole day.”
“What? Why? Where are you going? Can I come with you?” Stompy questioned.
“I’m going to have a baby!” Mama beamed.
“What?” both girls exclaimed in unison.
“A baby?!” Stompy cried in disbelief, tears filling her eyes.
“Oh, goodie! A baby!” Lola grinned, trumpeting loudly with delight.
“But you can’t have another baby! I’m your baby. I don’t want another baby in the house. You won’t love me anymore!” Stompy trumpeted loudly, horrified that she might be replaced.
Mama Elephant tried to soothe and reassure Stompy that she would always love her, but Stompy didn’t want to hear. She rushed off towards her room, crying and trumpeting in anguish.
She threw herself on her bed, thinking of the changes that would take place with a new baby in the house. It would be noisy! Babies cried so-o-o much! They also ate all day and then slept the rest of the day. It would not be fun having a new baby in the house.
“They want to ruin my life!” Stompy cried to herself. Maybe she should find a new family to live with—one with no babies!

As the days passed, Stompy felt sadder, even though Mama and Papa tried everything to help her understand that their love for her wouldn’t change. They tried to interest her in planning for the baby, but Stompy refused to help or listen to Papa and Mama.

One evening after dinner, Stompy marched off to her bedroom to pack. Mama would go away tomorrow, and she needed to find a new place to live.
She put all her favourite things in the middle of a big bed sheet: the pink slippers that Grandma had given her, her favourite toy, a pillow, her nightgown, and some colouring books. Tears ran down her cheeks—she didn’t want to go, but she didn’t want to live in a house where she wasn’t the baby anymore! She tied her sheet together in a sack that she could easily carry over one shoulder.
Stompy sat at her desk and drew a love heart and a picture of herself with her family so they would remember her. Then, she folded her letter nicely and left it on the desk, grabbed her swag and started for the front door.
“Where are you going, Stompy?” Papa asked.
“I’m running away!” Stompy pouted.
“Oh, I see,” Papa replied. “We will miss you very much. Our family will not be the same without you!”
Stompy didn’t say anything as she walked out into the night.

She hadn’t realised how dark it would be, but she gathered herself, took a deep breath, and started walking. Strange animal sounds echoed in the distance. Stompy closed her eyes—it was scary outside at night! From time to time she stopped, thinking about turning back but then she remembered the baby was coming and continued walking.
Without Stompy knowing, Papa Elephant followed from a distance, keeping a close eye on her.
As Stompy walked and walked, she began to wonder where she should go. Maybe I’ll end up all alone! No Papa, no Mama, and no Lola!
What if she ended up alone? With no one to love or love her back?
The more she thought about this, the more tears streamed down her cheeks. She felt way too upset to notice which direction she was heading, but in the distance, she could hear water and realised that she was almost at the waterfall.
Exhausted and thirsty, she stopped to drink when she reached the pool at the bottom of the waterfall. She’d had been many happy times here with her family, she thought. She looked around. Her stomach growled loudly. In her sadness and hurry to leave, Stompy hadn’t packed any food. Huffing and puffing, she lay down to rest.
Being alone at night was scary and sad. She missed her family.
In the distance, she could hear the wild animals out in the night, hunting. Oh, how she wished she was back home! Stompy cried again, feeling sad and alone.
Behind a large rock and bush, Papa Elephant watched over Stompy. He wanted to reach out and cuddle her and tell her how much he loved her, but right now, he could only make sure she was safe. She needed to be the one to decide to return home.

Stompy was starting to realise that she had been selfish about the baby. She lived in a happy, safe home. And here she was, acting selfishly and not showing love to the family that loved her every day—nor wanting to share it with someone else.
Stompy knew her behaviour was not grateful or right. She had treated her family badly, and she needed to tell them how sorry she was. She wanted to show them that she could love the new baby when it came.

Crying again, Stompy prayed:
Dear God, I am so sorry for being selfish, unkind, and unloving to my family. Please forgive me and help me love the baby that is coming soon. Help me be an obedient daughter and good sister. Please help me find my way back home because I don’t know how to get there. Thank you, God. I love you. Amen.
Darkness enveloped Stompy. She couldn’t see the pathway, and she didn’t know how to return home.
“Stompy, are you ready to come home now?” Papa asked, emerging from his hiding place.
“Papa!” Stompy squealed in disbelief. There was Papa, right in front of her!
“I’m so sorry, Papa!” she cried, running to hug him.
“Stompy, do you know God loves His children? He looks after them when they leave and waits for them to come home, just like I have been. God is a very loving and patient God. He doesn’t get angry or stop loving us when we make mistakes. He welcomes us home!”
Stompy nodded, knowing God kept her safe, just like her father had.
It was a long way back home, but Stompy wasn’t afraid anymore. She had Papa’s company, his forgiveness, and his love.
When Stompy walked through the door at home, Sister Elephant Lola and Mama Elephant were waiting for her.
“Welcome back, Stompy!” they cried in unison, running to give her a big group hug.
“We missed you! We were so worried!” her big sister said, sniffling.
Stompy apologised through tears. “Please Mama, Papa, and Lola, would you forgive me for being so unloving and rude? I’m sorry I ran away.”
“Stompy, we forgive you and love you,” said Mama. “Our love for you will never change. You’ll always be our little Stompy. It doesn’t matter how big you grow.”
They all hugged, and Papa Elephant prayed:
God, thank you for bringing Stompy safely home. We love you. Amen.
After dinner the next night, Stompy tiptoed into Mama and Papa’s room to meet her new Baby Brother, who was sleeping soundly next to Mama.
“Hello, Baby Brother Elephant,” Stompy whispered. “I’m your big sister, and I know you’re going to love being part of our family. We love you and God loves us all!”
Giving him a soft kiss, Stompy smiled and tiptoed back to her room to draw a picture of Papa, Mama, Lola, herself, and her new baby brother.

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