“Where have you been,
Bramble?” his mother asked when she saw him. “We were very worried about you.”
Bramble hung his head.
“Sorry, mother,” he said. “I was on Crown Hill watching the boats with
“Well it’s a good thing
you got home when you did,” his father said. “A little longer and you would
have been in big trouble.
“Bramble’s ears pulled
back. He didn’t want to be in trouble, but he was missing out on so much! He
wasn’t a little baby anymore. Why couldn’t he have a later bedtime, too? There
must be something he could do.
“Tracker said that
after the sun sets, you can see shapes in the stars. How come I never get to see
them?” Bramble whined.
Father Fox walked over
to his son and placed a paw on his shoulder. “You earn more privileges by
showing more responsibility. When you show more responsibility, you will be
able to stay up later and go farther on your own.”
“When you show more responsibility, you will be able to stay up later and go farther on your own.”
Bramble’s ears popped up.
Show more responsibility? Surely he could do that! But how? “How can I show
more responsibility?” he asked.
Father Fox smiled.
“What do you think?”
Bramble thought a moment.
What kinds of things would he need to do in order to show responsibility?
“Hmmm,” Bramble said. “Show you I’m smart enough not to get lost?”
“That’s important, but
that’s not it,” Father Fox said.
Bramble tried again.
“Prove I’m fast enough to run away from danger?”
Father Fox shook his head.
“That certainly helps, but that’s not it either.”
“I know! Be strong
enough to win in a fight! Grrrr!” Bramble said, then bounced around Father Fox
boxing the air.
Father Fox laughed and
ruffled the top of Bramble’s head. “Being strong is important, but that’s not
what I’m looking for.”
Bramble thought as hard
as he could. “I don’t know!” he said. “What is it?”
“You keep thinking
about it, then tell me what you come up with,” Father Fox said.
Bramble sat and thought
as hard as he could but couldn’t imagine what else it could be. He became very frustrated.
About that time, Mother Fox called out to his sister, Star.
“Star, honey. Have you
finished your chores? It’s almost time for bed,” she said.
“Yes, Mother,” Star
said. “Do you want to check?”
“No, dear,” her mother
said. “I don’t need to. If you say you’ve done them, I know I can trust you.”
Bramble’s ears shot
up, and he jumped to his feet. That was it! Trust!
“I know what it is,
Father!” he said, bouncing on his hind legs. “It’s trust! I can stay up later
when I can be trusted to do what I’m told! Is that it?” he asked.
“It’s trust! I can stay up later when I can be trusted to do what I’m told!
Father Fox smiled. “It
is about trust,” he said, “but it’s not about me trusting you to do what you’re
told. I’ll know you’re responsible when you don’t have to be told what to do.
When you make right choices on your own, even when no one is watching.”
“You mean like the time
Tracker and I cleaned up Mister Beaver’s pond?” he asked.
“Yes,” Father Fox
said. “That’s a good example.”
“And the time I learned
sign language so Buck wouldn’t feel alone?”
“Yes, that’s exactly what
I mean.” Father Fox smiled, but then his face turned serious, and he was quiet.
After a moment, he placed a paw under Bramble’s chin. “You know what, son? I think
you are ready for a little more freedom.”
“I tell you what, son,” Father Fox said. “Let’s go up on top of Crown Hill together and check out the stars. Just the two of us.”
“Really?” Bramble said
jumping about. He stopped and hugged his father tightly.
“I tell you what,
son,” Father Fox said. “Let’s go up on top of Crown Hill together and check out
the stars. Just the two of us.”
“Yes, sir! Tonight.
And if we hurry, we can catch the sun set. After that, I’ll tell you the stories
about the shapes in the stars.”
“And while we’re there,” his father continued, “we talk a little more about growing up. And maybe we can do something about that bedtime of yours.” Bramble could hardly contain himself. Not only was he getting to stay up later, he knew he had earned his father’s trust. More than anything else, making his father proud made him feel all grown up.