Arpeggio was a very angry little bunny.
So angry, in fact, he hopped all the way across the field.
He hopped through the rows of peas and carrots to the fence where the wild blackberries grew.
He was so angry he thumped his big powerful back feet until a cloud of dust floated up around him and made him sneeze.
That made him even angrier still.
He flopped his ears and lifted his tiny front feet to wash the dust out of his nose.
Today was turning out to be a very very bad day.
It all started when he went home after breakfast.
The sun had been up when he went out to find something yummy to eat for breakfast.
He’d hopped over to the strawberry patch and eaten until the soft downy fur around his mouth was pink and his belly was full.
He was happy when he went back to his burrow to see Mama Bunny.
Until he saw the little wriggly things gathered in a little pile beside his Mama.
“Arpeggio,” she said “meet your baby brothers and sisters.”
Arpeggio couldn’t believe his ears.
They shot up and he twitched his nose to get a whiff of the little things that couldn’t be baby bunnies!
They didn’t look anything like him!
“But Mama, they can’t be my brothers and sisters! They don’t look like me! I don’t like them!”
He let his ears flop back down and thumped his back feet again.
And sneezed again.
“Well Arpeggio,” his mother said “they won’t look like you for a while, they’re just babies, soon they’ll look just like you do.”
“But….they don’t even have fur! “ Arpeggio whimpered. “They’re ugly!”
His mother looked at him and twitched one ear in his direction.
“Arpeggio, that’s not very nice, you looked just like this when you were a baby, and they’re your family. Family is the most important thing in the whole wide world.”
Arpeggio shook his head until his ears flopped all around his face and then he stood up on his back legs, nose twitching wildly.
“I don’t want to be nice! I don’t like them at ALL!”
With that, he thumped once, twice, then three times, hoping it would make the ugly baby bunnies sneeze too and then hopped off as fast as his legs and feet would carry him.
That’s when he wound up at the blackberry patch.
And that’s where Father Bunny found him.
“Arpeggio, I’ve been looking for you son, Mama Bunny was worried about you.”
Arpeggio wouldn’t look at Father Bunny.
He turned his head so he wouldn’t have to see him.
He was still very angry about the baby bunnies.
“She’s too worried about the new baby bunnies to worry about me.”
He ended his sentence with another thump.
His feet were getting sore and his legs were tired from thumping so much.
Father Bunny hopped around until Arpeggio had to look at him.
“Son, I know you’re angry, but just because Mama Bunny has new babies doesn’t mean she loves you any less. We both love you very very much and we always will, no matter how many brothers and sisters you have.”
Arpeggio leaned up and grabbed a fat, juicy blackberry with his teeth and chewed it until it was gone.
He flopped down on the ground and looked up at Father Bunny.
“But you won’t love me as much anymore.”
He let one ear flop down over his eyes.
“You have to love them now too, so there won’t be enough love left for me.”
Father Bunny chuckled and laid down beside his son.
“Do you know what happens to Mama and Father Bunnies when they have new baby bunnies?”
He looked over at Arpeggio and nudged his shoulder with his little pink nose.
Arpeggio wanted to stay mad, but he loved it when Father Bunny laid down with him, so he lifted his ear from over his eyes so he could look at Father Bunny.
His nose twitched just a little from curiosity.
Father Bunny sighed and stretched, kicking out his very large back feet.
“Well, every time a Mama Bunny has new little baby bunnies, her heart gets bigger. Just big enough so she’s got enough love for her new babies and the babies she had before too. Like you.”
He looked over at his son with a little smile just for him.
“Father Bunnies too. I know because my heart just got bigger this morning.”
Arpeggio hopped up and looked at Father Bunny from the tip of his ears to his little fluffy tail.
“You don’t look any bigger. If your heart got bigger wouldn’t it make you look bigger too?”
He wasn’t so sure about all this, and he was still trying to be angry.
Father Bunny laughed but stayed where he was, looking up at his son.
“It’s hard to explain and it might not make sense, but your heart can grow as much as you let it, you won’t see the difference, but you can feel it. “
He got up then and looked over the field full of tomatoes and lettuce and potatoes and greens.
“Come back home with me and I’ll show you.”
“I don’t want to go home,” Arpeggio said, but he looked over the field to where he knew Mama Bunny would be with the new babies.
“What if she loves the new babies more than me?”
Father Bunny hopped once hoping Arpeggio would follow.
“Son, there’s room in our hearts to love you as much as we ever have. You’re our son and you will always be our son, no matter how many baby brothers and sisters come along. I bet if you give your brothers and sisters a chance, you’ll feel your heart grow too so you can love them as much as we love them. And you too.”
Arpeggio didn’t want to believe it.
He didn’t understand how his heart could grow and make him love the ugly little bunnies he’d seen earlier. They didn’t even have pretty soft fur like he did, and they had teensy tiny little ears that wouldn’t even flop. “I’ll try,” he said “but what if my heart doesn’t grow?”
Father Bunny laughed. “It will son, it will. Let’s go meet your brothers and sisters.”
He didn’t give Arpeggio time to think about it before he started hopping home.
Arpeggio followed, sure he would never love those ugly little things.
When they got back home, he poked his head in and twitched his little nose, sniffing again.
They even smelled funny.
Mama Bunny smiled, looking happy.
Arpeggio liked it when Mama Bunny was happy so he hopped all the way in.
Mama Bunny got up and stretched lazily.
She hopped over and washed Arpeggio’s ear tenderly.
“I’m glad you came home son, I love you so very, very much.”
Arpeggio wiggled when Mama Bunny licked his ear, looking up at her until she leaned down to kiss his little twitchy nose.
The ugly baby bunnies wiggled all over the place like little worms.
They were tiny and pink and some had little spots that you could barely see unless you looked really hard. Arpeggio hopped over so he could sniff them again.
They didn’t smell as funny as they had before.
They smelled a little bit like Mama Bunny.
Father Bunny and Mama Bunny kept back so Arpeggio could spend time with his new brothers and sisters. He sniffed each one until one rolled over onto his back and whimpered so softly he wouldn’t have heard it unless he’d been right there.
He leaned over and nudged the baby with his nose until it rolled back over onto it’s belly.
“They’re still ugly,” he said “are they ever going to look like me?”
Arpeggio turned to look at Mama Bunny and Father Bunny.
Mama Bunny laughed and hopped back over to lay down with her new babies.
They wiggled and squirmed until they were as close to Mama Bunny as they could get. “Soon son, they’ll look a lot like you. Right now they can’t see and they can’t get around on their own. They need me and Father Bunny to help them. And they need their big brother too. You need to help teach them where the blackberries are.”
Arpeggio thumped again, but this time it was a happy thump, even though it still made him sneeze. “I know where the best blackberries are! I know how to find the strawberries too! Will they like strawberries?”
Father Bunny chuckled and hopped over to sit beside his son, looking at him and then at his new sons and daughters too. “I’m sure they will. Before you know it, they’ll be hopping all over the place and you’ll need to teach them where to find strawberries and where they can’t go without getting hurt. Do you think you can help me and Mama Bunny take care of them all?”
Arpeggio looked at the little bunnies again.
Maybe they weren’t so ugly after all.
They’d need him since he knew the garden better than any other bunny rabbit ever.
Mama Bunny and Father Bunny still looked at him like they always had so he knew they still loved him, and while he looked at the baby bunnies, so small and pink, with their tiny little ears, he felt his heart grow a little.
Then it grew a little more.
And a little more.
It grew a little for each of the little baby bunnies until he knew he’d love them all.
He’d be the best big brother ever and he’d teach them all about blackberries and strawberries and even about his favorite thing ever.
The carrots that grew at the very edge of the garden.