Rosebud had her first encounter when she was about four years old. It wasn’t actually her first encounter but clumsys tend to forget most of what happens before they are four unless they try really hard to remember. On the sunny summer day that Rosebud had this encounter she was standing on the top of her world which was a little shed in her back garden. 

Maybe she shouldn’t have been on the shed roof, she was only four but her mother was standing beside it watching her. She was “keeping an eye” as big clumsys say. Her mother lifted Rosebud up there because she wanted to see the top of her world. She nearly put her right on top of mine. That’s the thing about the clumsys. When they get big and clumsy they notice less and do more silly things than when they are small and neat. Rosebud was small and neat but still much bigger than me who she was about to meet.

That sunny summer day she was standing on top of her world singing a silly rhyme that went something like this:

“Ladybird, ladybird fly away home,

Your house is on fire and your children are gone,

All except one,

And her name is Ann,

And she hid under the frying pan.”

She was dancing as she sang and I got a bit worried she might step on me. I didn’t much like her song either so I gave her my death stare. To my surprise it worked. I was just about to go to plan B and run away as fast as I could when Rosebud stared back at me.  She had spotted movement out of the side of her eye, or perhaps the bottom of her eye as I was at her feet. She bent down to take a closer look and then much to the disgust of the big clumsy who was keeping an eye on her she reached out to touch me.

I was surprised, clumsys normally don’t want to touch us. In fact they often scream and run or throw things at us. They sometimes even spray nasty stingy stuff on us that makes it hard to breathe. Rosebud, it seems, was different. I knew immediately I had to take this opportunity to introduce myself. I would be Rosebud’s first encounter that she would remember. I climbed onto her hand and scurried up her arm before she got a chance to flick me off. Then I stopped and looked straight at her, this time without my death stare.

Rosebud stood very still, quite an achievement for a clumsy so young, and she looked at me intensely with her big blue eyes. I stood up on my back legs which isn’t an easy task for me and invited her into my world. My world is a zillion times smaller than hers. She nodded and just as I heard her mother shout

 “Urgh put down that woodlouse!”

 Rosebud entered my space and I began to show her around. 

“Everything is so very, very  big!” she thought and I agreed. 

“I thought everything was so big before this now everything is even bigger.” 

I smiled. 

“You’re very pretty aren’t you?”

 I was slightly embarrassed but I agreed with this too because I am quite wonderfully handsome.

“You’ve so many colours” she said and then she looked closely at her own hand and laughed

“Oh, so do I, I’m not just one colour either, I’ve many too!”

 “What do you do all day?” she thought. 

At this I scurried away to the scrumptious meal I had left in order to meet with Rosebud. She watched me go.

“You are so fast, like lightning” she thought and then she gasped. 

“There are so many of you!”

I agreed with this observation too, she was a clever little clumsy. I wondered if she would count us. Clumsys spend a lot of time counting. They count everything when all you need to know is there are many or there are none at all. With all of their counting of numbers they often don’t see what it is that they are counting.

I brought Rosebud over to my family. Some of them were frightened and curled themselves up into a ball.

“Like tiny little armadillos” thought Rosebud. 

She knew a lot about armadillos and not a thing about us. Yet thousands of us live right under her nose. Did she ever even see a real armadillo?

“I never saw a real armadillo, but this is like a city of tiny little armadillos on the top of the world!” thought Rosebud.

“You’re very busy aren’t you?” she whispered.

She was looking at me again. I was hungry at this stage and had forgotten for a moment she was with me. I nodded as I munched through the rotted wood left on the top of her world. 

“This looked yucky from up there but down here it’s full of lovely colours. It’s not a dirty mucky brown at all.” 

Rosebud watched us for a while and then I heard her again.

“That’s a very important job. Mammy always says Mother Nature will clean up the rotted stuff if we leave it where it falls. Mammy says it to Daddy when he wants to brush up all the leaves I like to play in and you like to eat. He brushes them up for no reason, no reason at all.” 

She left me then because I was quite busy with my family and I heard her mother speak.

“You were miles away there Rosebud.”

“I was, I was with William.”  said Rosebud smiling down from the top of her world at her mother.

“Who is William? Was he the woodlouse you were looking at? William the Woodlouse, what a good name. You were looking so closely at him.” said her mother smiling up at her.

“William is a nice name but I don’t like the name woodlouse. I’m calling William and his family The Tiny Armadillos from now on.” announced Rosebud.

“What a good idea! People might be nicer to them if they called them that.”

Her mother lifted her off the top of her world and into her arms. She hugged her tightly. Rosebud whispered in her ear.

“I grew really, really, tiny and I went with William to see his family and you know Mammy they do a wonderful job for Mother Nature. They eat up all the wet and slimy stuff. They are very important. William said so.”

Her mother agreed.

“They are, and so is every creature and plant. They all have very important jobs.” 

“Did you ever go really, really, tiny Mammy and visit a tiny armadillo family?” Rosebud asked her mother who laughed and then replied in a quiet whisper,

“Why I believe I might have shrunk once or maybe twice. I do remember meeting a lovely ladybird on a tiny rosebud who taught me how everything is so very, very big.”

“But I am Rosebud” said her daughter.

“Yes you are and I am Ann” her mother replied.

“Like the ladybird who hid under a frying pan, you’re a ladybird, Mammy” laughed Rosebud.

“People like ladybirds, that’s what the rhyme is about. It is telling the ladybirds to fly away if the grass starts to burn like it sometimes does in hot summers”  Ann told her little daughter.

“We will make up a rhyme about Tiny little Armadillo woodlice so people will like them too then.” said Rosebud.

“Yes we should. Good idea, let’s do it during lunch.” said her mother.

Rosebud had her first encounter when she was about four years old and she helped her mother remember hers. Rosebud wrote a rhyme about Tiny Little Armadillos and her Daddy left the leaves to rot for us to eat. They may be clumsys who sometimes don’t notice us and do silly things but now they know we count as many and not as none at all.

2 thoughts on “The First Encounter

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