|Do What Your Momma Tells You|
by Margo Wayman
Momma sheep had a hard time keeping her flock of lambs out of mischief. If she turned her back for one moment, one of them would get into some kind of trouble. She was always telling them, �Do what your momma tells you!� But they never listened.
One day Momma was feeling very tired. She looked at her lambs. They were all so beautiful, and their wool was as white as the shimmering desert sand. She was pleased that they seemed to be content, laying in the shade of a tall eucalyptus tree.
Khalid was the oldest of the lambs. He never listened to what his momma said. As soon as she fell asleep he wandered over to a lemon tree that was growing, not far from the river. �Baa. Baa. Baa,� he went. He reached up and pulled a bright yellow lemon off of the tree with his mouth. He gobbled it down quickly. It tasted so good that he ate another, and another, and another.
Azzam woke up next. He saw his brother, Khalid, over at the lemon tree gobbling down lemons. This made him hungry. He looked over and saw his momma sleeping. Azzam never did what she told him to do either, so he got up and went over to the vegetable garden. He saw some delicious looking cabbages growing in the rich brown earth. He clamored through the carrots, beans, and spinach, and began munching on the cabbages. �Baa. Baa. Baa,� he bleated, as he ate one cabbage, then another, then another.
Wallaa was the next to wake up. She saw two of her brothers eating away. She remembered what her Momma had said, �Do what your Momma tells you,� but her two brothers weren't, so she got up and went in search of something that she could eat. She spotted some grape vines growing on wooden trellis not far away. �Baa. Baa. Baa,� she said, and went frolicking over to them. She pulled at the juicy purple grapes with her teeth, eating them one, after another, after another. She thought they were delicious.
Soon the other three lambs woke up. Sameera saw her sister, Wallaa, eating some grapes. She was so hungry that she began nibbling away at the blueberries growing in the berry patch. Azim saw Khalid eating lemons. He jumped up and bleated merrily as he ran towards the orange tree. He pulled down an orange, then another, and another.
Sarah, the littlest lamb saw all of her brothers and sisters. They were not doing what their momma told them to do. She looked at her momma who was sleeping comfortably in the shade of the boulder. Sarah's tummy began to growl. She was very, very hungry. So, she got up and wandered over to the vegetable garden and stood near Azzam. She didn't like cabbages, but she loved juicy, red, ripe tomatoes. She bent over and ate one. It was good. �Baa. Baa. Baa,� little Sarah cried. She ate another tomato. It tasted good too, so she ate another, and another.
After the lambs had eaten all the lemons, cabbages, grapes, blueberries, oranges, and tomatoes that they wanted, they went back over to the eucalyptus tree and fell back to sleep.
A while later Momma woke up. She stretched her legs and yawned. When she looked over at her lambs she loudly bleated, �Baa! Baa! Baa!� She ran over to her flock.
Khalid's beautiful white wool was now bright lemon yellow. Azzam's fluffy white wool was now green. Wallaa's white wool was dark purple. Sameera's was as blue as the sky. Azim's white wool was orange, and little Sarah's wool was red. Momma baa'd loudly. All the lambs woke up. �Didn't I tell you to do what your Momma tells you?� she asked her lambs. They all shook their heads up and down. �Well, look at yourselves. I don't think you did what your Momma told you!�
The lambs looked at each other. All of them had colored wool. Only Momma's wool was white. �Now, each of you is going to go down to the river and have a bath, with soap, � Momma told them. The lambs hated having baths. She took each of them and washed their wool. Khalid's yellow wool turned white again. Azzam's green wool did also, as did Wallaa's purple wool, Sameera's blue wool, Azim's orange wool, and little Sarah's red wool.
Momma told the lambs that from then on they were only allowed to eat the things that she told them to eat. �Do what your Momma tells you!� she said, and from then on they did.
� 1998-2000 Arab World Books