The little gray field mouse had a stomach ache and decided to go see the old noble tortoise for some advice. “Wise tortoise, can you help me?” asked the field mouse. The noble tortoise was 119 years old and animals came far and wide to ask him questions about life in general. The big bronze tortoise looked at the mouse and said, “What seems to be the problem?” “Well, I don’t have any patience and my stomach hurts because I eat really fast, nothing I do will help slow me down,” said the field mouse.
The tortoise slowly walked around the little mouse and looked into his ears and sniffed his arms and said, “Hmmm, this is what you need to do: First, take this journal and write down these steps for a patient life,” said the wise tortoise. The journal would be helpful in slowing down the field mouse and most importantly the journal would bring the mouse peace and patience in the end. The tortoise continued to explain the four steps to obtaining patience.
“Second, breathe in and breathe out and count to 10. Do not count to only seven, because seven is three numbers before ten. Do not count to forty two because forty two is thirty two numbers too long. Count to ten and only ten, do not count backwards or while you are walking backwards. Just count to ten and breathe in and out, do not forget to breathe in and out. Do not just breathe in and not out, and do not just breathe out and not in.”
The field mouse wrote down every word that the tortoise spoke in the patience journal. The mouse even highlighted the counting to ten instead of counting to forty two. The tortoise then cleared his throat to continue with his lesson.
“The third thing you must do is relax your entire body, from the top of your head to the tips of your toes,” said the wise tortoise. The tortoise walked around the field mouse with a stick. The brown stick seemed like a sword as the tortoise hit the field mouse with it. At first the field mouse moved and ducked, then the mouse stood still and noticed that the stick didn’t hurt. It was soft, the stick had a marshmallow on it. Then the wise tortoise said, “Your heart rate will slow down when you relax your body, do not fear the stick, embrace it and breathe in and breathe out.”
The little gray field mouse relaxed and felt the soft brush of the marshmallow on its warm fur. This made the field mouse very comfortable and happy, the mouse raised a hand to ask the wise tortoise a question. “Oh noble tortoise, at first I was fearful of the stick, but when I felt the marshmallow I knew I had nothing to fear. Did you put the marshmallow on the stick to remind me that life can be comfortable if I think it so?” The tortoise was chewing on a big blade of tall grass and replied, “No little mouse, I put the marshmallow on the stick because I’m making smores later tonight.”
The wise tortoise was happy with the mouse’s attention and had only one more lesson to teach the creature. The tortoise stretched its neck to the mouse's ear and slowly whispered, “Move slow, creep low, and crawl, don’t be quick and tall, speak with purpose, stay calm and this will lead to a more patient and happy life."
The calm field mouse replied, “I……......can….....do…......that.” Those four words took the little mouse eight minutes to say and thank you took another four minutes. The field mouse was now thinking more clearly and was breathing in and out and counting to ten, not to seven or to forty two. On the bed was a little red suitcase, the Field Mouse packed for a very long trip. The noble tortoise advised the field mouse to climb the nearest mountain and to make a home in the highest cliff. The mouse should spend ten years, not seven, inside the cliff.
While in a little mountain cave, the mouse should practice pure patience. The little gray mouse would slowly eat one meal a day, would read, and listen to the soft messages of the wind and the kind echoes of the caves. One night before the end of the ten years, the field mouse came upon a green caterpillar that was stuck beneath a fallen rock. The field mouse used his new found wisdom and used a stick to pry off the rock from the green caterpillar. That same stick was used to start a fire to keep the caterpillar warm and safe. No words were spoken as the field mouse stayed awake looking at the peaceful stars in the sky.
The next morning the field mouse was awakened by the dropping of pots and pans. The green caterpillar was feeling well and wanted to surprise the field mouse with a homemade breakfast. Besides the loud pans, the caterpillar sang, which would've been fine, but the caterpillar's voice sounded like an eagle when its feathers were being pulled off.
The field mouse got up while carrying the patience journal and patiently walked to the kitchen. The rowdy caterpillar greeted the mouse with many questions. “Where did you get that stick?” “Are you a cliff mouse?” “Do you know my cousin Eugene?” “Do you know of a good barber?” “Do you like ants in your omelette?” and “Do you mind if I stay for a few months?”
The field mouse opened the patience journal and looked at page one. Breathe in and out and count to ten was underlined in the journal. This was extremely difficult because the caterpillar could not keep quiet. The little mouse remembered to breathe in and out, but mistakenly counted to forty two! Counting to forty two was forbidden, so was counting to seven. This was a real test of the mouse’s patience and so the gray furry creature flipped to the next page on the journal.
Free your anger was written on the next page, relax your body, do not let your muscles tense up and free yourself from hate was also underlined in the journal. The peaceful mouse sat on the floor with its legs crossed and its eyes closed. Time stood still, that was until the clumsy caterpillar tried to give the field mouse a steaming hot cup of coffee and spilled it all over the little mouse's head! “Ouch, caterpillar! I don’t want coffee, I don’t want breakfast, I want peace,” yelled the annoyed little gray mouse.
Just then the mouse turned to the next wet page in the coffee stained journal. The mouse knew that yelling out and not controlling the anger were completely against the rules of patience that were listed in the journal. The curious caterpillar was still asking questions and the field mouse tried to close its eyes, but was afraid that third degree bacon burns might fall on its back. The smoke alarm started beeping and finally the field mouse put the journal in its clenched fist, and angrily walked up to the cooking caterpillar and BAM! BANG! BOOM!
Later that same night the field mouse met with the wise tortoise. The tortoise was lying on a massive log by the creek and said, “Hello little gray field mouse, it’s been ten years and I’m glad to see you back.” The wise tortoise looked right through the field mouse and asked, “Were you able to find peace and patience?” The little gray mouse spoke slowly, “Oh most noble tortoise, I learned patience and your journal was a handy guide on how to live my life.”
The wise tortoise was pleased to hear that the mouse had found patience and asked, “Was it difficult, were you ever tested?” The mouse nodded approvingly and stated with a sly grin, “Yes oh wise one, my patience was tested, but in the end I used this here journal to bring me peace and patience!” Little did the tortoise know that a caterpillar was stuck between the second and third pages. THE END
Author Notes: Children's book for 1st-4th graders who need to learn patience and their parents who might need more of it (especially now).