One day, Mama called Ellie in from the yard: “Ellie, come in please, we are going to the grocery store.”
“Why?” Ellie answered as she continued to push her baby elephant in a stroller around the yard.
“We need to buy yummy peanuts, hay and chocolate milk,” Mama answered as she gathered her coupons, grocery list and tucked them into her purse.
“Okay, Mama.” Ellie put her baby and stroller away, went into the house and picked up her little pink purse.
As Ellie and Mama strolled to the store, Ellie saw lots of things that made her curious.
“Why is that leopard wearing a yellow hat?” She asked.
“See the big brim? It keeps the sun out of her eyes,” Mama replied.
“Why do people ride in cars but we have to walk, Mama?”
“Because we are too big to ride in cars, Ellie.”
“Why is the sky blue? Why is the sun so bright? Why are some houses big and some houses little?”
Mama kindly and patiently answered each of Ellie’s questions so Ellie could learn about her world.
As they neared the grocery store, Ellie saw a little girl blowing a great big pink bubble-gum bubble.
“Oh, Mama! I want to blow great big pink bubbles, too!” Ellie cried as she watched the little girl’s bubble grow.
“No, Ellie, elephants don’t chew gum.”
“But why, Mama? Why don’t elephants chew gum?” Ellie asked. Mama’s mind was on the list she held in her trunk, so she didn’t answer Ellie.
“Mama,” Ellie said again, “Why don’t elephants chew gum?” All the way to the store, Mama had kindly and patiently answered all of Ellie’s questions, but now she was feeling a little bit tired, so she said firmly, “Elephants DON’T chew gum, Ellie.”
“But, Mama, why? Can I buy some gum? Please Mama? I want to blow a big bubble, too!” Ellie whined. Mama didn’t like it when Ellie sounded whiney. Giving Ellie her “Mom Eyes” look, she said, “Absolutely not. Elephants DON’T chew gum.” And then she walked into the store.
Ellie knew better than to ask any more questions after Mama had given her the “Mom Eyes”, but it didn’t stop her from pouting and walking very slowly behind Mama in the store.
Shuffling her big elephant feet, she followed Mama as they finally made it to the check-out. Staring at the floor she thought “I wish I could have some gum. I’d show Mama that elephants DO chew gum!” Just then, Ellie saw a quarter lying on the floor right at the end of her trunk.
Quickly, Ellie glanced up at Mama and saw that she was busy chatting with the Rhino in the check-out next to her. Slowly, Ellie reached her trunk out and picked the quarter up. Then she edged past Mama and scooted toward the gumball and mini-toy machines at the end of the check-out aisles.
“Ellie, where are you going?” Mama asked her as Ellie slipped past.
“I just want to look at the toys, Mama,“ Ellie lied. She knew she shouldn’t lie, but she had to buy a gumball! Quickly, Ellie slipped the quarter into the gumball machine and turned the knob. A big blue gumball popped out. Ellie snatched the gumball and quickly tucked it into her little purse, just as Mama said, “Come on, Ellie, time to go.”
All the way home, Ellie thought about the big blue gumball hidden in her purse. She knew Mama would be sad that Ellie had disobeyed and lied, but Ellie was so excited to get home and try to blow a bubble that she pushed her guilt way down deep and just thought about the fun she was going to have.
When they arrived home, Ellie helped Mama put away the groceries. Then she went outside to play.
Looking at the house, she checked to make sure Mama wasn’t watching, then she tip-toed around the backyard shed and pulled the gumball out of her purse, “Now I’ll show Mama that elephants DO chew gum!” she thought as she popped the gumball into her mouth.
The gumball was hard and sweet. Ellie smacked and chewed (and drooled a little too) until it was a gooey mess in her mouth. She tried to blow a bubble like the little girl at the store, but it wouldn’t work – no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t get a bubble to form.
She stuck the end of her trunk into her mouth to adjust the gum. As she pulled it out, the gum stuck to her trunk – creating a long gum-string that went from her mouth to the tip of her trunk. She put her trunk back into her mouth and tried to scrape the gum off on her little tusks. Instead, two more long gum-strings formed!
Reaching her trunk down, she tried to wipe the strings off with her toes, but more strings formed. She tried to throw the gum, but only got another string stuck on a branch above her. She shook her trunk and more gum stuck to her big ears. She shook her whole body and stomped in a circle – gum stuck in her eyelashes all the way to the wisp of hair on her tail. She was COVERED in gum.
Then she heard Mama:
“Ellie? Ellie! Where are you?” She wanted to answer Mama, but the gum held her mouth glued shut. “ELLIE!” Mama called.
“Mama!” Ellie tried to say, but it came out sounding like “Mmmhmmh.”
“ELLIE! COME HERE NOW!”
Ellie’s big eyes filled with tears as she tried to answer again, “mmMhmmm!”
She heard the backdoor slam as Mama came out of the house.
“Ellie, Where are you?”
“Hm, ombr hmmm, Mmmmhmmm!” Ellie replied and tried to move, but the gum had her stuck, stuck, STUCK.
She heard Mama’s footsteps drawing nearer.
“Mmmhmmm! Mhhemlp!” She tried to say, wiggling her big rump and doing a little dance.
“Ellie? What are you doing?” Mama said as she rounded the shed. Her big eyes got even bigger when she saw Ellie covered in gum and stuck to a tree. “Where did you get that gum?” She asked as she reached up and pulled the gum away from the tree.
“Mhat mm mdorem,” Ellie tried to answer, as big crocodile tears streamed down her gray wrinkled gum-covered cheeks and dripped off her trunk.
“I can’t understand you,” Mama answered as she kept gently pulling gum off of Ellie. Finally, Mama managed to get enough gum removed so that Ellie could move out from behind the shed.
Still crying, Ellie followed her Mama and let her use the hose to clean the gum from her tusks, trunk, toes and tail. Using her soft trunk, Mama gently cleaned the gum out of Ellie’s eyelashes. When the gum was all off Ellie’s body, Mama put a garbage can in front of Ellie so she could spit the little bit of gum still in her mouth into the can.
Then Mama looked at Ellie and said, “Now you know why elephants don’t chew gum.”
Ellie sobbed and said, “I’m sorry, Mama! I’m sorry I lied. I’m sorry I didn’t listen! I’ll never ever do it again, Mama! I promise!”
Mama wrapped her trunk around Ellie as she whispered to her, “I know you won’t, sweet baby. I love you.” And together they started walking toward the house.
Just then, a boy on roller skates rolled by, Ellie saw him and said, “Ooooo, Mama! I want to roller skate!”
“No, Ellie, elephants DON’T roller skate.”
“Why?” Ellie answered as together they walked into the house.
~ The End ~