Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Boy Who Built Rainbow Crab City (And Didn't Even Know It)

Once upon a time there was a happy little boy named Evan. Evan was generally very happy, but on this day he was extra super duper bursting with happy because his mommy and daddy said that they had a present for him. Evan loved presents and he impatiently asked fifty-five questions at once: "Where is it? What is it? Can I have it? What color is it? Where did you get it? Does it go vroom?"

His mommy and daddy smiled at each other and waited for a chance to speak. "It's shiny and red," his mommy said. "And you'll need it for where we're going."

Evan asked eighty-seven more questions: "Is it a remote-control car? A new bicycle? Does it make noise? Where is it? Can I have it now? Hey - where are we going?"

His daddy held a package behind his back, and he handed it to Evan. "It's a new frisbee! And you'll need it because now that summer is here we are going to go to the beach every weekend."

"Yippee!" shouted Evan, and then he asked how many days it was until Friday. He wanted to go right away.

Well, that first weekend finally came and Evan ran onto the sand to play with his new frisbee. He played catch with his mommy and daddy and he was feeling very good about how far he could throw his shiny new toy. He yelled, "look at this, Daddy!" as he threw it with all his might.

Unfortunately, just at that moment a huge gust of wind came and scooped up that frisbee and carried it far, far out to sea, where it slowly sank to the bottom of the water. "I'm sorry, son. We'll get you a new frisbee for next weekend. Come, let's get some french fries." And so for a minute Evan was sad, but not too sad, because everyone know that beach french fries are the very best french fries.

Now this next part of the story is something Evan never knew, but I'm telling it to you, and you can tell it to Evan if you ever meet him one day. Just as Evan was dipping his first fry into his first squirt of ketchup, a village of crabs was having a Village Meeting at the bottom of the sea. The crabs had always lived together amongst the rocks and seaweed but the water currents seemed to be getting stronger every year. They wanted to build real buildings to give them shelter, just like the people's houses that they could see when they went to the water's surface to play on the sand. The problem was that they couldn't agree on what to build. The red crab family wanted the buildings to be red. The brown family wanted the buildings to be brown. You can probably guess what the green crab family wanted, can't you?

The meeting had been going for several hours and nobody could agree on anything. Just then, a big red round plastic thing floated down to the sea floor. The crabs didn't know this, but it was Evan's frisbee! It was shiny and red and sturdy and that gave Daddy Red Crab an idea. "I'm tired of this arguing!" he exclaimed. "I'm building a red house for my family, and you can all build what you want for your families. And this" - he pointed to the frisbee - "is my new roof."

Daddy Red Crab and his family dragged the frisbee to a quiet spot on the sea floor. They gathered everything red that they could find: bits of starfish and old lobster claws, other lost toy pieces, even some ketchup packets that had fallen in the water and looked just like the ones Evan had squirted on his french fries. (Although Evan, of course, had made sure to throw out his garbage in a garbage can. He didn't like littering.) They pieced everything together until they had a beautiful red house. And the red crabs were happy, and sheltered from the currents. But the other crabs still couldn't decide what to do.

Well, the next weekend came, and as Evan and his parents were leaving for the beach his daddy said to him: "Remember what I promised, son? Here's a shiny blue frisbee for you." As soon as they could see the water Evan started tossing that frisbee back and forth with his daddy. They played for most of an afternoon but tragically, a strong gust of wind took that frisbee from him, too. Evan was very upset. He asked his parents please, could he get another frisbee? And they promised they'd find him one in time for the next weekend.

That blue frisbee sailed through the sunny sky until it was out above open water, and then slowly it sank. When Mama Blue Crab noticed it floating down toward the village she squealed to Daddy Blue Crab. "Quick, honey! Let's get it! We're going to build a house, too!" Because the blue crabs loved the color blue, they didn't want walls that blocked out the color of the beautiful sea. They just wanted a tent, an awning, a safe place to play out of the path of the currents. They lifted the blue frisbee on top of three beautiful blue wine bottles they had found discarded on the beach. And the blue crabs were happy.

The next weekend when Evan's brand-new green frisbee was lost to sea, he cried from sadness as much as Mommy Green Crab clapped for happiness. The green crabs were going to have a house in the village! Their family wanted an all-green house so Sister Green Crab and Brother Green Crab set out to gather as much seaweed as they could find. They helped Mommy Green Crab braid it, and they hung it for walls, and draped it for carpet. The Green Crab family's seaweed-and-frisbee house was everything they wanted.

The next weekend as they were preparing to go to the beach, Evan's mommy said, "I'm not even sure why I bothered, but I have another frisbee for you, Ev." Evan asked fourteen questions at once: "Where is it? Can I have it? Is it yellow? Is it black? Is it orange?" And that, of course, shows exactly why his mommy had bothered. She loved him so much, and his enthusiasm always made her smile. "This frisbee is brown. It was the last one the store had!" And being a generally very happy boy, Evan loved it.

Unfortunately for Evan, the wind loved it, too, and it picked that frisbee up and carried it all the way out to the middle of the sea, just as it had done with all the others. But the Brown Crab family had been hoping this day would come. Daddy Brown Crab jumped as high as he could to catch that frisbee before it landed, and then he tugged it to the spot in the village where his family hoped to build their house. They gathered brown pebbles and brown pieces of driftwood and they built themselves a log-and-frisbee cabin with a beautiful stone floor. They loved their new house and felt safe from the water's currents.

Summer was more than halfway over. The crab villagers had mostly stopped arguing. Those families who had houses were happy, and those families who didn't yet have houses gathered supplies to build walls and floors, looking daily to the water's surface and hoping it would soon be their turn to receive a surprise round roof from the sky. So on the bottom of the sea moods were improving, but above the water the opposite was happening. Evan was generally not so happy anymore. He kept telling his mommy and daddy that he just wanted to play with a frisbee all day without losing it. They hated to see their happy boy upset, so they arrived at the beach with another frisbee. "Try not to lose this one, sweetie," said his mommy as she gave it to him. "I had to drive to three stores to find it!"

It really was a beautiful frisbee. It was golden yellow and had a white stripe around the edge. Evan loved it. But- ugh, I don't even need to tell you what happened, do I? You probably know. It was lost to a strong gust of wind and disappeared in the middle of the sea. But that Yellow Crab family! They were so excited to see it floating down to them like a second sun coming through the waves. They had been ready for this day: weeks ago they had found a broken yellow sand pail that some kid had left behind on the beach. They bent its cracked pieces to form walls and they rested their beautiful new frisbee on top.

The villagers looked around. Theirs wasn't even really a village anymore; it had turned into a proper city with real buildings! Only one family still didn't have a home. So the neighbors, no longer arguing, worked together to help that family. It was the Purples. Everybody hoped that one day a purple frisbee would fall from the sky so that their Rainbow Crab City would be complete. But in the meantime, every crab worked together to scour the sea floor for those hard-to-find shells, the beautiful ones with the shiny purple insides.

The next weekend Evan wasn't even sure he wanted to go to the beach at all but his mommy convinced him to go. When she had bought that yellow frisbee, she had bought an extra one, too. (Just in case.) She said, "come on, sweetie. Let's go play. If this doesn't work out I promise I won't mention frisbees again."

But the frisbee was purple. So you know what happened. Poor Evan.

Below the water, though, Daddy Purple Crab and Mommy Purple Crab and the Purple Twins worked all week until they had built themselves a beautiful tile-and-frisbee home (with the help of all their friends). Rainbow Crab City was complete! The last weekend of summer was here, every family had a sturdy home to protect them from the water's currents, and the residents of the new City decided to throw themselves an end-of-summer party.

(Have you ever seen a tiny crab-sized charcoal grill? Or crab-sized picnic tables? So cute.)

Above water, Evan's mommy and daddy really wanted their boy to enjoy his last weekend at the beach. So they bought him a rainbow-colored kite. Evan loved that kite. He ran up and down the beach, playing with it all day long, smiling and yelling and kicking up sand like happy kids at the beach should do. And he never, ever once let go of its handle.

If you've read all the way through to here, thank you! Your reward is that my monthly column is up today at Simple Kids: go check it out. And if you just came here from there, thank you to you, too! This post is another example of one of our family's stories. I swear not all my posts are this long, though. Some are short and sweet, like this. Please come back again! Pin It