Popple the Pig’s Day In (a fun story- about what babies and toddlers need)

Popple the Pig’s Day In

Popple had work to do. He was building himself a new sty. He had such grand plans. He was going to put the bed in that corner and the fridge at the kitchen end. He couldn’t decide whether to have a breakfast bar beside the stove, or to have a kitchen table. He was happily puzzling over these things when his mum popped her head around the door.

“Hello Popple, I’d like you to look after your little sister today. I have to go shopping, and then I want to see the bank manager. Pippa won’t be any trouble. She has learnt to walk so you’ll have to keep your eye on her. She likes a nap for an hour or so in the afternoon. Just give her whatever you have for your lunch, but mash it up well. I’ll see you around six o’clock.”

Popple held out his trotters to his baby sister and said “Come on then, Pippa, let’s go and look round my new kitchen.” Popple felt pleased to think his mum would trust him with his little sister, but at the same time he had his own plans that he wanted to get on with. He hoped that Pippa would be happy enough to follow him around while he got on with his work.

Pippa thought Popple’s new sty was lovely. She picked up everything she could reach and licked it in case it tasted good. Popple was just in time to take the saw out of reach…and the electric drill. He moved all his tools up onto a shelf that she couldn’t reach and gave her a wooden spoon and a tin cup to play with. She was delighted. She banged away for five minutes while Popple wondered what else might keep her occupied. He looked over at his new fridge and began to imagine it here or perhaps over there. Pippa had sat down on the floor and was quietly tasting some old potato peelings which had spilled out of Popple’s rubbish box. He was just in time to pick her up and take them out of her trotter before she popped them into her mouth.

As he walked in circles around the kitchen carrying Pippa, he realised he wouldn’t be able to do anything at all unless she was happily occupied and unable to get at anything dangerous.

“A play-sty, that’s what she needs!” Popple was delighted with his new idea. But how could he make a play-sty while he had to look after Pippa at the same time? He got some biscuits and chopped them up into small pieces and sat Pippa at the table to pick them up one by one and pop them into her mouth. While she was busy he raced outside and grabbed a bale of straw. He ran back indoors. It was all right, Pippa was still snacking. He dashed out again and grabbed a second bale of straw. By the time he returned Pippa had finished the biscuits and was climbing down off the chair. Popple made the play-sty with two bales of straw blocking off the corner of the room. He popped Pippa into the sty with a nice rug underneath and some of her toys to keep her happy.

Whew, Popple needed a cup of tea after that. Pippa was quiet as he sipped his tea and tried to think of his work… The fridge or the cooker, what should he deal with first? Or maybe he should look at the bits of wood for the table, or should it be a breakfast bar? Popple was lost in thought for at least five minutes. He had just decided on moving the fridge, after all he needed to keep his food in easy reach, when “Waaah,” Pippa was crying. Her nappy was round her ankles. He changed her and put her back in the play-sty, but she didn’t want to go back. She had had enough of the play-sty. Pippa wanted to go for a walk.

Popple enjoyed the walk with Pippa. It was raining and they had to put on their macs and boots, but the fresh air was good and the neighbours were friendly. It was lunch time when they returned. Popple made a tasty meal for himself and Pippa. Unfortunately she didn’t like hers. He had to make her some porridge. It was two o’clock by the time he had washed up and changed her again. She was looking sleepy. Popple laid her down with her favourite blanket and she instantly fell asleep.

“Ah.” thought Popple to himself, now I can get on.” He sprang up off his chair and started to move the fridge. Pippa stirred. “Oops, better not do that, it might wake her up. I’ll do some sawing instead.” He looked around for his saw and couldn’t find it. “That’s funny, I’m sure it was here this morning.” Popple looked everywhere for his saw. He was starting to get cross. Then at last he remembered. He had put it upon the high shelf out of Pippa’s way. He reached up. Crash, a cardboard box tumbled down onto the floor. Pippa stirred again, whimpering a little. Popple felt exhausted. He lay down on his bed thinking that he just needed a little rest. His mind had been so taken up with Pippa that he couldn’t think straight.

Pippa was crying. Popple awoke with a start. It was half past four! Good heavens! He had been asleep all afternoon! Well, it had been rather a long walk they had taken and Pippa was a heavy piglet to push up the long hill home. There was an hour and a half left before his mum would be back to take Pippa off his hands. She was in a very lively mood now. She was bouncing around and definitely did not want to be put in the play sty. She shouted loudly and jiggled up and down to let him know that she wanted out. Popple decided to take her round the garden and show her some things. She loved the cat. She kept chasing it in her funny falling over way. He thought she was trying to say “Puss, Puss” so he spent some time trying to teach her the words. Mum would be pleased if Pippa could say a new word when she came back to take her home.

Popple and Pippa by Aoife Hillman, age 6

Popple and Pippa

At six o’clock Popple and Pippa’s mother returned. Pippa tottered over to her and hugged her knees.

“Hello, Pippa, you look very pleased with your self!”

“I think she has learnt a new word today,” said Popple, and he went on to tell his mother about all the things they has done.

“Oh, that’s lovely, Popple,” said his mum, “I’ll have to bring her again so you can have another nice day. I got so much done today myself. It was marvellous! After my trip to town I rushed home and spring cleaned the whole of downstairs. It really was marvellous! Can’t do that sort of thing with Pippa around. How did you get on with your kitchen by the way?”

“Well I sort of decided to do it tomorrow, Mum. Pippa kept trying to help and I couldn’t concentrate very well.”

“I know just what you mean, Dear,” said his mum, “You get the knack of fitting things in when there are babies around, but you can’t be too ambitious. It’s an important job you know. You have to think of it as a job, and fit the other things around it, or you’ll find yourself climbing up the wall. You didn’t climb up the wall today, did you Popple?”

Looking after Mum (story:family members taking responsibility for helping in the home)

Looking after Mum

Mary lay on her bed. It was all she could do to lift her head from the pillow to take a sip of water. She felt detached from her body which had let her down so badly. Her normally fit strong frame was now prone, limp, like a rag, all vitality and spark gone, yet her mind was clear and bright. She lay thinking about her life and what could have caused this terrible situation.

She had gone from being an extremely busy teacher with a family of two teenage girls and a husband to look after, to a helpless, lifeless body incapable of doing anything at all. This had happened so suddenly that her family were in a state of shock. The doctors said it might have been a virus. They had taken blood and performed numerous tests. Nothing had been found. Mary lay inert. She could not have lifted her arm up to reach the glass of water on the bedside table. It was worse than yesterday but in a strange way her mind was enjoying the rest. Suddenly other people were having to do the thinking and the doing. At first they had resisted it.Mum’ had been doing everything for them. They watched a bit of TV and played on their computers. Mary’s husband expected his tea on the table when he came home. He was tired after a long day at the office and had no desire to cook or clean. Neither did the girls.

Now it was different. They were looking after their mum. They had no choice. Reality had suddenly set in. They began to realise exactly how much their mum had been doing for them. The house started to become dirty. Washing piled up. Dirty dishes filled the sink and the dish washer. No-one could find anything. Where did she keep the Hoover?

Food shopping was a nightmare. How much should they buy? What did they need? What would it cost? Gradually the girls and their father worked out a routine. It took them a month to fully understand what Mary had been doing for them over the past years. Meanwhile Mary drifted in and out of consciousness, unable to answer any of their questions. Martin her husband learnt how to use the cooker and the washing machine. He ruined a few garments, but not too many. He burnt a few meals. He began to wonder how Mary had managed to do everything that she had done for all those years, and she had worked full time too. Mary was a pleaser, he knew that. She was always anxious to keep others happy to the extent that she did not like to ask for help; she could not cope with the grumbling. That suited Martin and the girls. They were not pleasers, they were users, but they did not like to admit it.

The three of them sat by Mary’s bedside one evening holding her limp hands. Martin decided to tell them all what he had been thinking even if Mary could not hear or understand.

“I’m sorry, Mary,” he said. “I think we’ve worn you out. If you ever get better we’ll never go back to how it was, I promise. We will all do our share of the work.”

Tears were running down Martins face. He had at last realised how selfish they had all been.

That night Mary’s energy returned. She quietly got up and dressed herself. She took her keys and drove away.

Mary returned a fortnight later, rested and refreshed. She never had to wash another pan again. It had taken her near death experience to change to change the behaviour of her family and also her own behaviour. She had done enough pleasing. She realised that having a perfect home was not as important as looking after her own health. Enough was enough.


  1. Does this remind you of anything in your life?
  2. Why do you think the family changed after Mary went away?
  3. In your family how is the work shared out?
  4. Do you look after your own things and keep your room clean and tidy?
  5. Who puts your clothes for washing and who puts the clean clothes away?
  6. Who cooks the meals?
  7. What can you cook?
  8. How could you learn to cook?
  9. What more could you do to help out?

Popple the Pig and the Oinkment (fairy story about being brave and positive)


I’ll tell you a story, so you must sit quietly and listen. In the fairy realm we have many things which are much the same as the big people have and we have other things which are not. When I was little girl I had a pig that was called Popple. I loved Popple. He lived under the stairs in my house. He was my secret. Nobody else knew about Popple. When they were all asleep Popple and I would go out for an adventure. He was an unusual pig because he had a mane like a horse. I’d hold on to it and we’d fly off into the night until night turned to day, as it did very quickly in fairyland. We would go and visit Popple’s friends. They lived in an old manor house. There were lots of them. Some were fairies, some were elves and some were pigs with wings like Popple.

One day we were visiting Popple’s friends and a bad thing happened. Popple didn’t see the branch of a tree and he bumped into it as we were landing. I fell off and I was all right, but Popple had broken his wing. Oh dear. I did feel sorry for Popple. Whatever could I do to help? I felt like crying because I didn’t know how I was going to get back home, but I decided to be brave. Popple needed all the help he could get. I borrowed a pillowcase and made a sling for Popple’s wing, and we went to see the witch Tangeloola. . She would know how to heal Popple’s wing quickly if anyone did. She got out a big pot of oinkment and told me to rub it onto Popple’s broken wing three times. She said that by the third time the wing would be better. She told me he needed to have some nice lovage soup and a good rest. Then he would be as fit as a flea again. . Well, I looked at Popple and he looked at me.

“She knows what she’s talking about,” said Popple, ” Spread some of that gooey stuff on me would you, then I’ll have a snooze?”

I was a bit worried that it might not work, but I decided to give it a go and keep smiling, I thought if I looked happy Popple might start to feel better about his poorly wing. So I smiled and rubbed and tucked him up for a snooze. Then I went to find some nice green lovage for some soup. There was a lovely big plant in the back garden of the old manor, and Piggy Perkins said she’d make the soup for Popple. When he woke up I rubbed some more oinkment on his wing. It was feeling much better already. He had some soup and offered me some too. At that moment witch Tangeloola popped her head round the door to see how he was.

“Splendid, splendid,” she said, and she sprinkled something sparkly into the soup.

Now you should both drink the rest of this, then put on the last of the oinkment and go home. “

I was so pleased I jumped up and down for joy, and to my surprise I found I could fly. It must have been the soup!

Witch Tangeloola giggled and giggled and said, ” I put some flying dust in the soup so you can help Popple to get home safely and not strain his newly mended wing. He’s not strong enough to carry you yet. He needs a few more days to recover fully.”

Popple looked a bit sad, but I said “Come on Popple, be brave, at least you can fly again. Let’s go. Thanks Witch Tangeloola!” and off we flew. The funny thing was after that I could always fly at night, but never in the daytime when anyone else was watching me. Popple lived under the stairs until I got too big to have a pig friend living in my house. He flew off to another little girl in the next village, and I didn’t mind at all. After all, I could still fly at night, all by myself.

By the way, when I get a sore place I put ointment on it, but as pigs say ‘Oink oink’, I think that’s why Popple used oinkment…..