Parsley Rabbit loved a good challenge. A small bunny when compared to other bunnies his age, Parsley saw himself as different. To tell the truth, he was no different than any other bunny in Bugsville, just smaller. Yet, Parsley felt he had to be like a superhero, in order to fit into his community.
Parsley’s ability to act upon challenges issued by others had become his means for survival. No matter when, where, or how a challenge was issued, Parley’s brain told him to meet and exceed it, regardless of what the outcome to the dare might be.
One fall day, Bubbles the Bear dared Parsley to jump from the highest tree branch and land on a sleeping Wendy Weasel; Parsley did. The next day, Barney the Beaver asked that Parsley swim to the deepest portion of Oak Lake and again, Parsley did. For several years, Parsley’s behavior remained the same. He saw no harm in his actions and by completing every action he was asked to complete, Parley felt as though his friends respected him more than they did before.
On an early January morning, Parsley overheard Tommy Turtle poking fun at Bubbles the Bear. Since a few months before, Bubbles had asked Parsley to jump from the highest tree, Parsley came to her defense.
“Don’t you yell at my friend!” Parsley exclaimed, as Bubbles stood watching from the sidelines.
Tommy Turtle, confused, asked: “Why are you upset; I was only joking.”
Parsley saw no humor in Tommy’s comments and meanwhile, Bubbles saw little humor in Parsley’s behavior.
“He was joking, Parsley.” Bubbles said. “Why are you acting this way?”
Instead of answering, Parsley simply walked away. He thought he had known Bubbles and he thought he had overheard Tommy’s hurtful words toward her; yet on both occasions, he had been wrong. Bubbles was strong enough to take care of her. Not to mention, her friendship with Tommy was more whimsical than serious.
That day, Parsley vowed to change. He promised himself he would no longer be weak enough to fall for such silliness as dares and challenges and moreover, he promised to never again judge others when the situation was not fully known. Yet, Parsley’s change would last only a few months.
For “thirty-nine days, twenty-one hours, and five minutes,” as quoted by his mother, Parsley Rabbit behaved himself. When a dare was suggested, he walked away and when Tommy Turtle, began saying mean things to others, Parsley remained as quiet as a mouse. But, then, something changed.
Wendy Weasel lived next door to Parsley. Wendy was five years older than Parsley and five years “better,” as she saw it. Both Wendy and Parsley attended Holly Meadow Elementary, but Wendy did not spend any time, at school, with the students she called “little squirts.” The two rarely saw each other in the neighborhood, since Parsley liked to play sports and Wendy stayed inside with her dolls but when Wendy was outside, Parsley always met her ugliness with ugliness of his own, just as he had the day that he had jumped from the treetop to land upon her.
While they has been separated at school for seven months, Wendy and Parsley met with a month left in the school year. Due to his size, Parsley was given the bottom locker, while Wendy had been assigned the upper one.
“Get out of my way, Dirtwad.” Wendy said, as she shoved her books into her locker.
“I was here, first!” a brave Parsley replied.
Soon thereafter, Wendy poured her water bottle on Parsley’s head, causing him to move.
The water bottle showers continued. Every day, from late April onward, Parsley met Wendy at their lockers and every day, while he stood his ground, Wendy poured her water on poor little Parsley’s ears, causing them to droop. Parsley, quickly losing his cool and his braveness, asked Tommy Turtle for advice.
“Tommy,” he said, “you sometimes poke fun at people and while I might think it is mean, others think it is funny.”
Tommy agreed, as Parsley continued.
“Then, why,” Parsley said, “does it hurt so much when someone does something mean to you?”
“That’s life, Parsley.” Tommy said. “My Momma has always taught me that the best thing we can do when others dare us to do something is to ignore the dare and walk away, if we do not feel it is right.”
“But a dare is a dare, isn’t it?” Parsley asked.
“A dare is a dare, Parsley,” Tommy said, “but all dares aside, we must also consider and accept any actions that come as the result of our own. Just like the day when you thought I was being mean and defended Bubbles the Bear.”
Parsley nodded his head in agreement and thought about what Tommy had said. As he shook his ears dry, Parsley realized that, while they were not friends before, by jumping from the tree onto Wendy’s lounge chair as she slept, he had upset her. When someone is upset, they are not as likely to ever become a friend, if they were not in the beginning.
Parsley knew what he had to do. When school ended, the next day, he waited for Wendy to come. On time, as always, she came toward their lockers, with water bottle in hand, ready for a fight with little Parsley. Instead of a fight, Parsley stood calmly and handed Wendy a plate of carrots, freshly picked from the Rabbit’s Garden. He, then, apologized for jumping from the tree and landing on her, as she slept. Wendy, after tasting the carrot, decided to forgive Parsley.
While their age difference still kept Parsley and Wendy separated for many things, the two found a way to co-exist. Parsley played baseball with his friends and Wendy still played with her dolls, but never again did the two have differences that caused their neighborhood to be a gloomy place.
Most importantly, Parsley learned an important lesson, thanks to the help of his friend, Tommy Turtle. The actions we sometimes choose may in turn come back to us, in a negative way, should we choose the wrong way to handle them. Whether these actions come as the result of someone else’s dare or because of someone else’s reaction toward us, we must always be aware of others' feelings. If we choose to be a leader, however big or small we are, others will follow the sound-minded choices we make. If we choose to be a follower, always accepting others' dares, we must accept that our lives might be in for an eternity of "water bottle showers" and hurt feelings.
Since Tommy showed Parsley the mistake he had been making, Parsley, Bubbles, Wendy and Tommy have lived happily and peacefully in the heart of Bugsville with the other neighborhood children. No dares have been suggested and the only disagreements to have come are about who should pitch the 7th inning of the baseball game!
© 2007 – Jill Eisnaugle’s Poetry Collection
All Rights Reserved
Jill Eisnaugle is the published author of the poetry collections, "Coastal Whispers" and "Under Amber Skies." She lives in Texas City, TX with her family and pets.