The Boy Who Cried Wolf

I remember how my mother used to scold me for ‘putting the heart crossways’ in her whenever I gave her a fright. While I *knew* what she meant, I didn’t really know what she meant until after I had my son. There is nothing quite like the knowledge that your child is in pain or danger to make your heart lurch and your world tip.

This is why my son’s occasional tendency to melodramatize can really get to me. He did it the other day: a sudden high-pitched wailing that had me leaping 10 feet across the room to him in a single, Pavlovian bound; only to discover that he was upset that the corners were curling up on a particularly treasured ‘Ninja Turtle’ sticker. Once I’d stopped shaking, I decided that this would be an opportune moment to recount the tale of the boy who cried wolf.

The view from our balcony. This year a bear with 3 cubs has been spotted on the wooded hillside opposite.

The view from our balcony. This year a bear with 3 cubs has been spotted on the wooded hillside opposite.

The setting was perfect: we were at our holiday home in the Quirós valley, nestled in a traditional mountain village at the foot of crags where brown bears and wolves roam to this day. Just the previous evening we had been talking with a friend who rears goats and who knows only too well the pain of losing livestock to wolf attacks. Gazing out the kitchen window as I washed the lunch dishes, I allowed my imagination to take flight and wove a story that took its cue from the old fable but fed vividly from this wild and rocky landscape. My son stood at my elbow gazing up at me, saucer-eyed. I worried a little for his impressionable young mind, assaulted by the full force of my storytelling skills but I carried on, unstoppable.

As I rinsed off the last of the cutlery I reached the end of my sorry tale and I turned to face my son, poised to reiterate my pointed moral, just in case he hadn’t quite grasped it. He wasn’t there. Mildly disgruntled, I dried my hands and, wondering at what stage he’d decided to disappear off, I set off in search of him.

I didn’t have far to go. As I approached the back of the house I could hear his yells ringing through the open balcony doors…. ‘Wolf! Wolf!’ he cried excitedly.

Ah, the ancient power of storytelling…….


  1. Ah, I was thinking of you just this morning. I love this, you are such a great story-teller.
    Miss you.

  2. bavariansojourn says:

    Hahahaha… Loved this! I remember being read the story of flat stanley as a young child and drew what I thought to be a lifelike representation of myself in paper, put it on the floor of the kitchen and hid in the larder. My mum spoke to me for ages about how it had happened, and what I must feel like being flat. In the end I had to come out because I was so worried she really thought it had happened! :D

  3. Loved this post. I remember being told the same story when I was a child and it leaving a strong effect on me. And funnily enough, I told Little A this story the other week as she has a habit of playing up over the smallest of things too. But sometimes I don’t know if this story is a blessing or a curse especially when they actually start crying wolf, wolf afterwards LOL. X

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