Piia Babysits Uncle Rasmus
Piia woke up on Sunday with a rumbling tummy. Her parents had left in the morning and her Uncle Rasmus was supposed to come and visit. That wasn’t something that happened just any day because Uncle Rasmus was no ordinary uncle. Uncle Rasmus was the world’s best uncle and Piia always kept a close eye on him.
Uncle Rasmus had curls growing on his head, a goatee on his chin, and tomatoes on his windowsill. He loved punk and petunias and studied biology at university. He said he was both into wild animals and party animals, which sounded similar but apparently weren’t the same thing at all.
Piia climbed out of bed and dashed to the kitchen. Uncle Rasmus was already there—or, rather, his rear end was, since his top half was deep in the refrigerator.
“Good morning!” Piia called out. “What are we doing today?”
Uncle Rasmus backed out of the fridge, his arms heaped with hot dogs. “Good morning to you, too!” The strong scent of cutlets hung around him.
“I bet you’re awfully hungry,” Piia said, looking him up and down. “There are more cutlets in the freezer, you know—Mom made a whole stack of them.’
“Already out, thawing,” Uncle nodded brightly. “It’s been months since I last saw a fridge this full! There are only dry noodles back at the dorm.” And he swallowed a hot dog whole.
Piia frowned. Uncle Rasmus was looking a little thin—even noodle-shaped, himself. And he was scarfing down hot dogs so fast… Even Piia’s father, who was the world’s fastest hot-dog eater, would have lost to Uncle Rasmus today.
“Hey—let’s play restaurant! Take a seat at the table, and I’ll be the waitress.” Piia grabbed a tray and stuck it under her uncle’s nose. “What would you like to have, sir? Today’s specials are hot dogs and cutlets.”
Uncle Rasmus’ eyes sparkled and he bolted to the table. “Good day! Hot dogs are just fine and dandy, but you wouldn’t happen to have any pancakes, would you…?” He shot a glance towards the stove and licked his lips.
Piia placed some pancakes on the tray and added a jar of jelly to help fatten him up.
“What wonderful service!” Uncle Rasmus said, packing pancakes into his mouth. He stuck a hand into his pocket and pulled out a little object. It was a matchbox. “Here’s your tip! Meet Boris the Beetle!” he exclaimed, opening the matchbox just a crack. Two glinting eyes and whiskers peeked out.
Piia let Boris crawl onto her finger and smiled in content. She had no problem with games like that—as long as her uncle didn’t go hungry or sad.
When parents returned home later, they found Rasmus snoring on the sofa. Piia had tucked him in nice and snug, and was watching Boris sleep in the matchbox. Nothing to worry about there—Piia’s parents could feel at peace whenever they left her to babysit her uncle in the future, too.
A Gift for the World’s Best Grandpa
Grandpa was having a birthday today called his “big seven-oh”, and the Biscuits were getting ready for a special visit. Dad was looking around all morning for a brush he had lost last year, and Mom was slicing up a huge pile of potatoes, which was everyone’s favorite.
“Your potato salad is the best in the whole world!” Grandpa liked to praise as he devoured his helping in no time at all. When the bowl was empty, the celebrations would continue and other things would be eaten, too.
Today was no exception—everyone wolfed down Mom’s potato salad, and only then did the party get underway. Grandpa unpacked presents and exclaimed at least ten times: “Now that definitely wasn’t necessary!” His eyes shone like fireflies as he ripped open tons of wrapping paper.
Grandpa received a fish encyclopedia from Rasmus, a tie clip from Mom and Dad, and warm pajamas from Grandma. He was also given a motorbike helmet, fishing tackle, and expensive brandy. Grandpa stared at all the gifts blissfully, sitting on the mountain of wrapping paper like a birthday king. Then came Piia’s turn. She picked up her kitty Loofah and walked over to Grandpa.
“Well, and what have we got here?” Grandpa asked with a warm smile. “Or are you going to sing me a nice little song?”
“This is no school play!” Piia exclaimed, and set Loofah on Grandpa’s lap. “I’m giving you five minutes of cat-hugs. Happy birthday!”
Grandpa stared deep into Loofah’s eyes and sighed happily. “What a wonderful present! The best I’ve ever gotten, that’s for sure!”
Piia eyed the cat and shifted him deeper into Grandpa’s lap. “Go–go,” she ordered. “The clock’s ticking.” But Loofah leapt off of Grandpa’s lap and vanished without a trace.
When the birthday party was over, Piia was tucked in on the couch to sleep. They placed some soft blankets in a basket near the door for Loofah.
Piia was just about to fall asleep when she heard a creaking noise. She peeked over the couch. The bedroom door had opened— and there stood Grandpa, peering into the living room. He crept over to the cat’s basket, looked back and forth, picked up Loofah, and held him for fifteen whole minutes.
Piia snuggled back under her blanket and smiled softly. It sure was good that Grandpa finally got his present.
Dad Celebrates Sleep-In Day
“Do you know what day today is?” Dad asked in the morning with a big yawn.
“Of course we do!” Mom replied. “Saturday and June 27th—the first day of our camping trip to the bog! Are all your bags packed?”
“I packed a long time ago already!” Piia shouted, munching on breakfast.
“Packed, packed…” Dad rumbled. “In case you didn’t know, it’s an ancient folk holiday today. Sleep-In Day! Instead of working, you’re supposed to get as nice and rested as you possibly can.”
“Camping is the best kind of holiday,” Mom said dreamily. “Three days out in pristine nature with only birdsong and bog lakes …!”
“And squelching boots,” Dad said gloomily. “Canned food, a damp tent, and mosquitoes. And bears! I’ve heard that a whole pack of bears moved into the bog lately.”
“There’s not a single bear in the bog,” Mom said, laughing. “There aren’t any big animals living there at all, much less bears.”
“It’s egg-laying season for mosquitoes right now, too…” Dad whispered to Piia. “And if it rains, then we certainly won’t get a campfire going…” He stood up quickly. “I’m going to go take a nap.”
Piia sensed danger and grabbed her father’s arm. “Our teacher told us that on Sleep-In Day, you’re actually supposed to predict the weather! So, I forecast seven straight weeks of sun and warmth!”
Dad stared glumly out the window. “You can never believe weather reports like that. The sun… it’ll disappear in a flash. And there will definitely be fir-tree roots poking up under the tent… no to mention the biting ants.”
“Listen, you old-fashioned guy,” Mom said. “Get rid of your little lazy-bug and pack up. We’re leaving at 11 o’clock sharp, no matter what your ancestors might think of it.”
And by that afternoon, all three of them were in the bog. The sun was shining, the flies were buzzing, and when they took a dip in a bog pool, Dad forgot all about ancient customs. He splashed Mom, who was standing on shore, and presented her with a water lily when he climbed out. “To the lady of my dreams,” he said, sticking the flower into her hair. “When will the sandwiches be ready?”
“As soon as you make them!” Mom laughed, and made such a big cannonball as she dove into the water that it arced up and over Dad’s head.
“Clever as a cabbage worm, she is,” Dad smirked, jumping in, too. And so, Sleep-In Day was left entirely unmarked on that occasion and no one suffered a single ant-bite, either. And what’s more: the weather was gorgeous for two whole weeks.
Translated by Adam Cullen