Once Upon a Time

It’s been seven months but he was still nervous bringing the plates to the table. He quickly went through the list of animals and “rabbit” he decided. He gently placed one plate in front of his three year old daughter and watched her expression very carefully. She looked in it, for maybe 10 seconds, her eyes surveying the little vegetable landscape, then lifted her gaze to his face as he sat down. Having her attention made him feel the need to jump in. He forked a potato, lifted it up to examine it. His heart was beating fast, “stage fright”, he thought. 

“There lived underground a family of rabbits.”, he started and immediately realized his mistake. But he learned not to hesitate and keep pushing through. Flow was more important than facts. “They were a happy bunch living in their home under a beautiful olive tree. During summer they ate all the carrots in the world. But when winter came there were no more carrots. They would puff up their furs, go out every day to find food, and would come empty handed. One day, moma rabbit didn’t come back. Daddy rabbit and baby rabbit were so sad they stopped going out to find food.” 

She was looking ahead, her eyes glazed over. “God! I’m taking too long.”, he thought.

“When baby rabbit got sick, daddy rabbit started digging the ground because he was scared. Suddenly he came across a yellow patch! ‘What is this?’ he asked and licked his paw.”, with a frown he licked the knuckles of his left hand, right one still holding up the fork with a potato. “‘This is so delicious!’, daddy rabbit exclaimed and brought some to baby rabbit.”. He was getting hungry. He put the potato in his mouth and continued while chewing. “Baby rabbit loved the potato! And they were so lucky that there were hundreds of potatoes around their house and they kept eating potatoes all winter until daddy rabbit and baby rabbit were both fat and their fur shiny.”

She didn’t move a finger yet. He felt like sinking. He thought it was a good one. The Pediatrician’s words kept playing in his mind “This phase could have a permanent effect.”. He decided to play his best card. He forked a mushroom. 

“When summer came, baby rabbit went to the forest to collect some mushrooms to cook with the potatoes.” “What a smooth segue.”, he thought. “Baby rabbit was so hungry and the mushrooms looked so tasty that for every two mushrooms she put in her basket she ate one.”, he swiftly ate his mushroom and forked another. ”After a while baby rabbit got tired and fell asleep next to a tree. When she woke up she realized that it wasn’t a tree but a huge mushroom!“ A smile formed in her face and he felt the tension on his hamstrings easing. “And she saw a caterpillar sitting on top of the giant mushroom smoking a cigarette. ‘You shouldn’t be smoking, it’s bad for your health!’ said baby rabbit. The caterpillar smugly replied, ‘A hundred years ago I would say society is afraid of the unknown, but you’re right little rabbit, science has proven that cigarettes are really bad for health, you’re a very smart little rabbit!’.” “An anti-cigarette propaganda, well done!”, he congratulated himself silently. But he knew he shouldn’t dally any longer. “‘Wait a minute!’ baby rabbit said. ‘How is this mushroom so huge?’ she asked. ‘Oh you didn’t know little rabbit? Some of the mushrooms are magical and can take you to the dreamland!”, he nodded. “You must’ve eaten one.’ the caterpillar said.”. He saw a mushroom disappear in her mouth. Something melted in his chest. He quickly ate a forkful and for a delightful second father and daughter looked at each other chewing.

“‘I’ll tell you a secret.’ the caterpillar said and he whispered the secret to baby rabbit’s long ears. When baby rabbit went back home, she planted three rows of zucchinis and watermelons side by side.”. He forked a zucchini and thought, “Am I getting good at this?“. “When the zucchinis were half grown she cut their roots and connected them to the watermelons. And because zucchini roots were deeper than watermelon roots, they could drink more water from the earth and so her watermelons grew into enormous sizes!”, he gestured with both hands in the air, ”When baby rabbit took the giant watermelons to the forest market, everyone was aston…”

“I like this.”, she interrupted. An onion ring rose from the plate hanging on her clumsy fork.

His shoulders sank a little. “Of course you like it.”, he thought. A memory of his pregnant wife chasing him in the house after eating a raw onion like an apple “HANONION HAD HAAY KHEEPSDEEE DOOCH DOOOR HAAAWAAY!”. Well, it didn’t.

“That’s an onion, baby.”

She ate the onion and swung her head slightly from side to side. He just watched her, heart full.

“Do you know any an-yan stories Jason?”

His name on her lips was pure bliss. He took a moment to relish it and looked at her through a haze.

“Of course I do baby of course!”. He fought the urge to steal a kiss from her rosy cheeks, she didn’t like it much. 

He straightened his posture, took a deep breath, and forked a piece of onion.

“Once upon a time”

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