A cautionary fable of The Three Little Pigs
20 October 2012
This is a cautionary fable about the three little pigs. No, not those little pigs. The little pigs in our story are not brothers, merely buddies and they’re way more modern and hip. None of them would be seen dead in a pair of dungarees!
So, once upon a time, a very long time ago, the three little pigs went to a party. And for easy reference, let’s call the little pigs Bacon, Pork Chop and Roast. They had a marvellous time at the party. Having fun with all of the other animals. Bacon pig’s parents were even at the party. Because it wasn’t merely a little pig party – more an animals of all ages party. A party held at a Bacon family home to be exact.
And as little pigs are wont to do, Bacon, Pork Chop and Roast got ever so slightly bored and decided to go off on an adventure together. They walked around a bit – here and there, and then here and there some more. And then, quite unexpectedly, in the beaten footpath, outside the party house, they came across another bunch of animals, all sitting in a circle. These animals were slightly older than them and seemed to be having so much fun together. So our three little pigs thought it would be great to join them. The circle got a bit bigger, to encompass the little pigs, and not wanting to feel out with the bigger animals, our little pigs got ever so much ahead of themselves. Forgetting for a moment how young they really still were, in an effort to appear “cool” to the bigger animals.
Who knows exactly how it started or who did it first. Or even why they did it. Did they want to seem older perhaps? More experienced in the ways of the forest? Or did they simply feel like trying something new for the very first time. In hindsight, the how’s, when’s or why’s are not all that important. But what is, is the fact that our three little pigs fell into a classic trap. One that is as old as the hills, if not even older than that – they made a bad choice.
So, what did they do? Pray tell. Did they kill? Did they maim? Did they steal? No, they made a foolish mistake and had some bad hay. And truth be told, this hay was particularly bad. They each only had one little try of the bad hay, but sadly one little try was all that it took. Because they had broken a cardinal rule, and at the end of the day it was not about the quantity at all. They crossed a line. Young pigs weren’t allowed this hay. Older pigs weren’t allowed it either. And while we’re at it – the actual fact of the matter is this - this hay is off limits to all animals.
They felt dreadful – Bacon, Pork Chop and Roast. All three of them equally. What were they to do? Well, the clever thing would have been to tell an older animal, like a parent animal immediately. But did they do this? No, they were only little pigs after all and not very wise yet. They were scared of the repercussions when the adult pigs found out what they had done. So, they tried to keep quiet about it. But, being young of age and not wise yet as mentioned earlier, they found this a near impossible task. So, talk they did. But, to fellow young animals – none of them wise either. And so the word spread in the animal kingdom – a kind of bush telegraph if you like. Whispered from ear to ear and ear to ear. And as happens in many cases like this, the story got juicier and juicier with each retelling.
Realising that the jig was up and that the time for hiding was over, the three little pigs made their very first wise decision. All three of them told Bacon pig’s mom what had happened. Well, she was in a complete tizz, I tell you. She praised them for their honesty and bravery in speaking out. Admonished them for making a bad decision and advised them that honesty is always the best policy. That this was, though unfortunate, not the end of the world. That the trick was to learn from their mistakes and that all animals made them. How you dealt with your mistakes was important and not repeating them, equally so. She expressed disappointment in their choices, but not in them as animals. Even big animals made mistakes. She told them that she would do the honourable thing and tell Pork Chop and Roast’s parents what had happened. They had all been in her care so to speak, after all. They had to prepare and brace themselves for punishment, as there would be repercussions from their deed. But that they should take this punishment like the big animals they were growing up to be.
Bacon’s mom had a very tough job then. Making two very awkward phone calls and repeating the woeful tale of mistakes made. She accepted responsibility and apologised. She was ignorant and not wilful in putting the three little pigs in harm’s way, and deeply regretted what had happened. These phone calls went back and forth for days on end. Little were they to know that the storm was still to come. It didn’t take long for another “concerned” mommy animal (a relation to the Big Bad Wolf me-thinks), to drop an anonymous letter off at the little pig’s place of education. Funny enough, this “concerned” mommy animal, had a remarkable resemblance to a sheep – complete with woollen mittens so that her hands would not get dirty. You know these wolves in sheep’s clothing types. Always eager to deflect attention from their own flawed offspring – feeding off compost and any titbits from the forest floor. And before long, there were requests for all of the little pig’s parents to come and see the Big Chief as well as his second in command at school. Punishment was meted out by the forest school. Technically the pigs’ indiscretion happened on private forest ground and in private out of school time, yet the forest school felt the need to act. Many were understanding of what had happened, but there still had to be punishment and an example had to be made. Others, less judgemental showed sympathy - it could so easily have happened to them as well and on their watch too. The three little pigs, handled all with dignity. Learning to take their punishment and hold their heads relatively high. For the longest time they and their families, in particular Bacon, were the topic of many whispered conversations. Pointing fingers is such a lovely pastime after all.
Now a problem, was the fact that Roast, held a leadership position in the forest school. And it simply would not do for a leader to be perceived as having feet of clay. And so, without much ado, Roast was stripped of his leadership role. A sad day indeed, as it is a big honour to be a leader and something which requires hard work to achieve. Bacon, in particular felt very bad about it. He felt partly responsible for what had happened, because the older animals in the circle, that had given them the hay, were cousins of his. And was the party not held at a family home? So, showing extreme bravery, Bacon made an appointment to see the Big Chief as well as the second in command. And once he had his audience, he begged to take on extra punishment, so that Roast and Pork Chop would be spared. But to no avail, and rightly so. Because sad though it was, they all had to suffer in some measure with their punishment. And let’s not forget, their parents also gave them punishment, so suffer they did.
For a while, Bacon, in particular became a pariah. No one let their young animals visit him at his home. And no one invited him to visit theirs either. Bacon’s mom’s heart ached for her little pig. Because he had done the time so to speak for his crime. Yet the social isolation continued and stretched on and on. He eventually gave up on asking friends over, accepting that he would be excluded forever more.
But, time softens all. And eventually, the storm started dying down. People started forgiving and forgetting. Pointing fingers is tedious and more often than not, you’re left with egg on your face. And after 9 interminably long months, the social flood gates started opening up for Bacon again. More than a year has now passed, and I think he has learnt a lot and will hopefully act more cautiously in the future. Bacon and Pork Chop are still the very best of friends and will probably end up being just that right into adulthood. They’re still very good friends with Roast as well, but they’re now in different forest schools and don’t see as much of each other as before.
And now, more than a year down the line, the three little pigs have moved on. Hopefully a bit more mature and world wise. Slightly battered and bruised, but braver. Heads held high once more. The lesson to learn is to not buckle under peer pressure. You don’t need to appear to be cool. Just be yourself. Don’t rush through life. There is a time and a place for everything. Learn to say no, turn around and walk away. Just learn to say no.
And then just to put things in perspective a bit, Bacon’s mom wrote a blog. About how her little pig, grew a bit as an animal. Stretching his boundaries and learning in the process. And though given a choice, she would choose to not go down the road of the expensive lessons learnt in the past year, she is grateful for the lessons none the less.
But then again this is just a fictional story, or is it?
Please note that no pigs were harmed in the telling of this story. And no other animals either.
Bacon, Pork Chop and Roast
Bacon, Pork Chop and Roast outside the Bacon family home
Bacon's mom, waving the Little Pigs goodbye before they went off on their adventure