Mary’s birthday was coming soon, and Tooey and Laboingia, two speckled Cybunnies, were busy preparing surprises for her. Tabitha, the baby Cybunny, wanted to help too, but she was so little that mainly she just got in the way. Tooey and Laboingia tried hard to be patient, but sometimes they just couldn’t.
A few days before Mary’s special day, Tooey was hard at work with her paint set, making a beautiful birthday card for Mary. Carefully, she painted hearts and flowers in different shades of purple, Mary’s favorite color. She and Laboingia would write in it, and help BabyTabitha write too, but first the card needed to dry. Tooey placed it near an open window where the sunshine and the soft breeze could dry it faster, then went to play outside.
When she came back inside a while later, BabyTabitha had taken possession of the paint set. This annoyed Tooey a little, but she didn’t suppose Tabitha could hurt anything, since the paints would wash right off. She went to wash her hands for dinner, then came back to put her picture away.
But where was it? Tooey looked everywhere around the open window where she’d left the picture to dry, and even went outside to look, but she couldn’t find it. She was just about to call to Mary and Laboingia to see if they’d seen it, when BabyTabitha patted her arm with a painty hand and said, “See, Tooey? Pretty!” Tooey looked around and saw Tabitha standing there, proudly holding up Tooey’s picture. Only now it wasn’t the beautiful thing Tooey had left by the window to dry.
The hearts and flowers had been splotched with daubs of different-colored paint, and now all Tooey saw was a dripping, multi-colored mess. “Oh, Tabitha!” she wailed. Tears sprang to her eyes as she took the picture away from Tabitha. “Bad baby!” Tooey reprimanded as she gathered it and the paint set up to take them to her room. “No more paints for you!”
“Pretty!” BabyTabitha insisted, looking a little confused as she followed Tooey.
Tooey had wanted to just crumple up the ruined picture and start again, but with Tabitha watching her, she couldn’t quite bring herself to do it. So she put it and the paints out of Tabitha’s reach, then took Tabitha into the bathroom to help her wash off the paint and get ready for dinner.
The next day, Laboingia got Mary’s permission to use the kitchen, promising to clean up when she was done. She was going to make her special white chocolate cookies and shape them like hearts, because she knew Mary loved hearts. The cookies smelled so good when they were baking that Laboingia knew it would be hard not to eat them. But thinking about how Mary would love them and the added surprise Laboingia had in mind almost made her forget how much she would have liked to eat one.
While the cookies cooled, Laboingia mixed up the icing, the real surprise. It was orange-flavored (Mary’s favorite) but colored purple, which was Mary’s favorite color! As soon as the cookies were cool enough, Laboingia carefully frosted each one with a little of the orange-flavored purple icing, then left them for the icing to set before she put them away.
She was back in half an hour with a container to put the cookies in, but at the kitchen door, Laboingia stopped and gasped in horror. There, on the counter, was BabyTabitha, happily poking her fingers into the icing on each cookie. “Tabitha, you get down right now!” Laboingia yelled. “Bad baby!” she stamped her foot on the last word.
BabyTabitha hopped down from the counter. “Bad baby?” she repeated, licking icing from her fingers.
“Yes! You’re a very bad baby! Look what you did to the cookies!” Laboingia surveyed the finger-marked treats with a sinking heart. What was she going to do for Mary’s birthday? Sighing, she put the cookies into a container, not sure what to do with them now. She wasn’t even remotely tempted to eat one now, but she knew Mary wouldn’t approve of her throwing them away either. She put them up out of Tabitha’s reach, deciding to figure it out later; that way the baby Cybunny wouldn't get the cookies.
Later, Laboingia told Tooey what had happened with the cookies, and Tooey showed her the card BabyTabitha had ruined. “I just can’t draw all that stuff over again!” Tooey wailed.
“It looks kind of cool, actually,” Laboingia said. “Better than my cookies do.”
Tooey looked doubtful, but decided she’d rather take Laboingia’s word for it than make a whole new card. “I have an idea,” she said. “There are two ultranovas in the living room; maybe we could take those to the trading post and use the money to buy a birthday present.”
“You go ask if we can take the ultranovas," Tooey said.
Laboingia ran off to ask Mary if they could have the two ultranovas, and was back in two minutes, grinning from ear to ear. “We can have them!” she told Tooey, “but we have to do chores for them before we take them to the trading post.”
It seemed as though Mary’s list of chores would go on forever the next morning. Tooey and Laboingia weeded in the garden, mowed the lawn, straightened the living room, and finally washed the kitchen floor. Tabitha wanted to help too, and finally Mary gave her a damp rag and told her she could wipe the kitchen table. It kept her out of the other two’s way and made her feel like she was helping. Finally, right before lunch, Mary told them, “You’ve done a great job, girls! After lunch you can take your ultranovas to the trading post. I don’t think I’ve seen the floor look this clean in ages!” Mary got down some plates and began serving up grape pizza.
“I’m starving!” said Laboingia, taking a big bite out of her grape pizza slice.
Tooey nodded, her mouth full. They both loved grape pizza, and they‘d been working hard all morning.
“Where’d the baby go? Mary said suddenly. “She’s usually the first one to the table.” She got up to look for Tabitha and found her in a corner, playing with an empty ultranova jar. “Hey, sweetie, come have some lunch.”
BabyTabitha came to the table, but she didn’t touch her lunch, and Mary began to look worried. “You don’t act sick, but it’s not like you not to eat. Maybe we should go see the doctor later.”
As soon as Tooey and Laboingia were through eating they went to get the ultranovas. But there was no sign of them. They came back to the table, and Tooey asked Mary where the ultranovas were.
“They should be on the shelf where I always keep them,” she answered.
“That’s where we looked,” Laboingia said, “but they’re not there.”
“Yummy ultranovas,” BabyTabitha chirped, rubbing her round little tummy.
Tooey and Laboingia stared at her. “Tabitha,” Laboingia said in an ominous voice, “You didn’t eat our novas, did you?”
BabyTabitha looked scared, and tears filled her eyes. “Bad baby,” she said sadly.
“That’s right,” Tooey said. “You were a REALLY bad baby today!”
“Now just a minute!” Mary cut in. “Have you girls been calling her that? I’m surprised at both of you! Tabitha’s just little; she’s still learning! You girls still get into mischief, and I’d never call you bad, even though you’re old enough to know better. What about last week when you were over at Kittiekat’s house and you and Starlie and Daisie were giving plushies a bath in the toilet with bubbles?”
Tooey and Laboingia looked down at their paws. They hadn’t even known Mary knew about that.
“I don’t ever want to hear either of you call your sister a bad baby again,” Mary went on. “In this family we treat each other with respect. Now I think you girls should go to your room for a little while and think about what I said.” She picked up BabyTabitha and walked out of the kitchen.
Tooey and Laboingia went sadly to their room, each thinking the same thing: It just wasn’t fair. Tabitha had ruined every birthday surprise for Mary they had, and they were the ones being punished. Giving vent to her frustration, Tooey took a flying leap and landed hard on her bed. There was a loud THUNK! And the bed tilted sideways, sliding Tooey off onto the floor. Almost immediately, footsteps came running down the hall and Mary stood in the doorway, BabyTabitha at her heels.
“What’s going on in here?” she demanded, then, seeing Tooey on the floor, “Are you okay?”
Tooey nodded. “But I think I broke the bed,” she said in a small voice.
Mary came over for a look. “It’s not broken,” she told Tooey. “Two of the casters came off, that’s all. They’re easy enough to put back on if we can lift the bed. Tooey, Laboingia, you two come lift, and I’ll put the casters on while you hold the bed up.”
The girls got on either end of Tooey’s bed and tried to lift the bed, but couldn’t lift it enough for Mary to get the casters under. And Tabitha kept getting in their way. “Tabitha, move!” Laboingia said finally, losing patience. “Come on, Tooey, let’s try again!”
“Me pick up!” Tabitha insisted, and darting between the girls to the middle of the bed, lifted with them, and this time the bed came up effortlessly!
Mary laughed as she began attaching a caster. “Well, I think it’s a good thing she drank that milk,” she said. “Now she’s strong enough to help you two lift the bed!”
In little more than a minute, Mary had attached both casters, and the three girls let the bed down gently. “Wow, Tabby, you were awesome!” Tooey said, giving her little sister a big hug.
“Yeah, you sure were,” Laboingia agreed. “I’m sorry we were mad at you.” She hugged Tabitha too.
BabyTabitha giggled. “Yummy novas!” she said with a mischievous grin, and the other three laughed.
And when they celebrated Mary’s birthday the next day, Tooey and Laboingia gave Mary the card and the cookies Tabitha had helped to “decorate”. “Oh girls, what a beautiful card! And Laboingia, don’t feel bad about the cookies; they just have a little more love in them now, that’s all.” Mary tasted one, and the look on her face was enough to tell Laboingia how much she liked them. “My very best present,” Mary told them, “is to be here with my three girls.” She drew Tooey, Laboingia, and BabyTabitha onto her lap, and they all shared a huge family hug, and a few heart-shaped, purple, orange-flavored cookies as well.