Pick Me!

Once there was a young wombat named Benson, who lived in a safe, comfortable wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

One morning Benson was drawing space planes and his mother was fixing the leg of the table where Benson and Mick and been playing Crocodile Hunters a bit too wildly the day before.*

(* Crocodile Hunters is a game where one person (or more) is the crocodile and the other is a hunter. They wrestle and tumble and if the hunter wins, they tie the crocodile up to something like a table or a chair and poke them with feathers and if the crocodile wins they eat the other person’s lunch.)

Aunt Moss came home from her Wild Knitters group and sighed. “I won’t be able to take Benson to his saxophone lesson tomorrow. They’ve asked me to organise the Knitting stall at the festival next month, so I’ll be busy every afternoon for the next two weeks.”

“What are you selling at the stall this year?” Aunt Lillibet asked.

“We’re going to sell odd socks,” Aunt Moss said. “Everybody always has plenty of them to donate, and everybody always needs them.”

“That’s a good idea,” Benson’s mother said. “I can’t take Benson to his lesson either. I’m demonstrating how to prune native flowers for the Bushcare group, and after that Gordon has asked me to take over the Cheese-making group while he’s away.”

She turned to Aunt Lillibet and asked, “Would you be able to take Benson to his lesson tomorrow, Lillibet?”

Aunt Lillibet put down her book and took her glasses off.

“Why doesn’t anybody ever ask me to run something or to be in charge of something?” she complained. “I know as much about cheese-making as you do, and I’ve been pruning native trees since before you were born. And I could organise an odd-sock stall with one hand tied behind my back!”

Benson’s mother said brightly, “I’m asking you now!”

“It’s not the same thing at all,” Aunt Lillibet grumbled, but she took Benson to his lesson.

The saxophone teacher was choosing students to play at the festival. Benson hoped very hard that she would choose him. He had been practising and practising. He was sure he was the loudest player in the class.

The teacher chose four of the students, but she didn’t choose Benson. Actually the teacher didn’t choose him because he was the loudest player in the class and when he played you couldn’t hear anyone else, but Benson didn’t know that.

Everyone clapped. Benson felt very disappointed, but he clapped with everyone else, and tried hard not to show how disappointed he really was. He didn’t want the other four to feel bad.

He put his saxophone away sadly and wondered if he should take up the gong instead. He remembered what Aunt Lillibet had said about never being picked for anything, and he knew how she felt.

The next day he was at the playground with Mick and Bonnie Lou, and Alejandro came up.

“I’ve got some bad news,” he said. “You know how my mother was going to organise a day out for everyone at the butterfly farm next week? Well, she’s too busy and she won’t be able to do it any more.”

Everybody loved going to the butterfly farm. The butterflies were amazing, and there was a really good ice cream shop right next door.

“Can’t we ask someone else to do it instead?” Benson said.

“Good idea. I’ll ask my mum,” Mick said.

Benson said, “I think we should ask Aunt Lillibet.”

“No way!” Mick said. “She’d make us write down the names of all the butterflies and then she’d check our spelling!”

Alejandro said, “She’s always cranky, and she keeps yelling at us to be quiet. I think we should ask Mick’s mother.”

Benson knew that Mick’s mother would make up funny rhymes out of the butterflies’ names, and show them how to be as still as statues so the butterflies would come and land on their shoulders. But he remembered how Aunt Lillibet said that no-one ever asked her to do anything. He said, “No, I think we should ask Aunt Lillibet. It’s her turn.”

“Oh, all right,” Mick said.

They all went to see Aunt Lillibet. Benson said, “Aunt Lillibet, would you like to organise a day out for everyone at the butterfly farm next week?”

Aunt Lillibet said, “Absolutely not! I’ve got better things to do than take a bunch of noisy young wombats to a butterfly farm, shouting and arguing and rampaging around, and frightening all the butterflies.”

Benson was very surprised. “But you said no-one ever picked you to do things! I thought you’d be happy that we asked you to be the one to organise it.”

“I am happy,” Aunt Lillibet said. “I’d have to be crazy to take you and Mick and all your rambunctious friends to a butterfly farm, but it’s nice to be asked.”

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