I post this as soon as I have it, and some of you may want to use it in church this weekend. This is the G-rated version of the story of the Prodigal, without the violent taking of the parents’ financial security or the range of the dissolute living in the original. I am struck with the fact that we often wait to tell this particular parable to young people until they are of an age to understand those things, rather than letting the emotions of loss, betrayal, indignation, which clearly are understood at any age, be expressed an understood. Thanks to Rosalie Sugrue for this interpretation.
A children’s story by Rosalie Sugrue of New Zealand
Illustrate with a piggy money box and two girl dolls, or choose two little girls willing to mime the action as the story is told.
Once upon a time there were two sisters who lived with their father and mother in an ordinary house in an ordinary street. Their mother did baking and grew flowers. Their father had a big vegetable garden. The elder sister, Anna, liked doing baking and she liked helping in the garden. The younger sister, Betsy, didn’t like baking and the only thing she enjoyed doing in the garden was climbing the fruit trees. Both girls had jobs to do in the house and every week they were given pocket money. Half of what they were given was theirs to spend as they liked, the other half was put in a moneybox to save up for something special.
One Saturday afternoon when the rest of the family were working in the garden young Betsy was playing explorers in her bedroom. She had drawn a map and was planning an expedition. She had emptied her schoolbag and was packing it with things you would need for an adventure (What would you need?) – a torch, a raincoat, some sunscreen, some chocolate, her water-bottle, a pocket knife and a compass.
The moneybox she was not supposed to touch was watching her. It was in the shape of a pig. The pig looked at her with his small piggy eyes and seemed to say, “Go on I dare you to!” So Betsy took that pig, turned him upside down, unscrewed the stopper in his tummy and shook out all the coins. Then she scooped them up and put them in the front pocket of her schoolbag. “Take that Moneypig! I am going on an adventure.” Moneypig looked lonely sitting empty on the table. “You can come too,” she said stuffing Moneypig into her schoolbag that was now a tramping pack. She put on the pack and her jungle sunhat.
“I’m going on an adventure,” she sang as tramped down the street to the bus stop. Soon a bus came along. It had the words Railway Station above the front window. Betsy climbed on and said Railway Station please and put down $2. At the station a few people were waiting in line at the ticket office. Betsy joined the queue, bought a ticket, and travelled by train right into the city. It was very exciting. She walked along the waterfront until she came to a park. No one was playing in the park but there was a tall slide in the shape of a lighthouse. Betsy played on it until the sun went behind a cloud. Even though it wasn’t raining it felt cold. Betsy pulled on her raincoat and wondered what to do next. Actually, it wasn’t great fun having an adventure all by herself so she took out Moneypig. “What do you want to do Moneypig?” she asked. Moneypig looked at her with his black piggy eyes and Betsy remembered the chocolate. She pretended to share it with Moneypig. Then she gave Moneypig a slide but he just tumbled over. It was getting windy. Betsy thought of the good dinner her mother would be cooking. Moneypig felt very light with no money in him. “I think you are hungry Moneypig,” she said, “What do you think we should do?” Moneypig just looked at her with his little piggy eyes. (What do you think they should do?)
At the station they had a long wait for a train. For the first time that day Betsy thought about how her parents might be feeling. (How do you think her parents were feeling?) Betsy thought they might be angry that she had gone on an adventure. The more she thought the more she knew they would be very angry! Not only had she not told them where she was going, she had taken the money that she wasn’t supposed to spend. All the way home on the train she practised what she would say to her parents. She was going to tell them she was very sorry and that she would stack the dishwasher by herself for a week and put all the clean dishes away. When she got off the train there was no bus waiting. It was a long walk to her house and it was starting to get dark. Suddenly she saw her father’s car. He pulled up with a squeal of brakes. She started to say how sorry she was but he wasn’t listening, he was too busy giving her a big hug. Then Dad texted her mother and took her home. Mum and Grandma and Pop were all there. They had all been out looking for her. Betsy felt ashamed but they all hugged her and said how glad they were she was safe. Mum hadn’t cooked any dinner because she had been too busy looking for Betsy.
Dad said, “Let’s have a pizza party. We’ll get chips and Pepsi as well, and you Betsy can choose any dessert you like from the menu.” They didn’t usually buy extras if they bought pizza.
Suddenly Anna ran out of the room and slammed the door. Her mother went after her and found her crying on her bed. “What is the matter dear?” she asked. (Why do you think Anna was crying?)
“It’s not fair,” sobbed Anna. “I’m always good and helpful and you’ve never had a pizza party for me.”
Her mother hugged her close and said, “Anna, we love you very much and you make us so happy with your helpful ways. Both our daughters are special to us. Betsy was very naughty and this made us very sad. We were worried about her. Bad behaviour always makes us feel sad but nothing stops us from loving our children. We are having a party because we thought your sister was lost but now she is found.”