Jaime stood in front of his class, looking at the large group of eager foals waiting for his lessons to begin.
“cwass! Dis bwight time babbews weawn abou’ com-moo-nee-kay-shun. Dat mean how babbehs can teww oddas about how dey feews!”, the stallion told his students.
The attenive class, all sitting on their rumps, clapped their soft fore-hooves together, making a gettle piff-piff noise.
“Fank 'ou. Jaime hewpew Cwowdy wiww demonstwate wif Jaime. Weady Cwoudy?”, he asked his little TA.
“Yes pwofessow!”, she replied.
“Babbeh, see dis baww? Pweten’ dis am Cwowdy faborite baww. Jaime am pway wif baww, bu’ Cwowdy wan’ baww.”
“Hewwo Jaime! Gib Cwoudy baww!”, Cloudberry demanded Jaime.
“Jaime pway wif baww now!”, he snapped at her.
Cloudberry put on a dejected face for the students. They all looked stunned at Jaime’s outburst.
“Jaime am meanie!”, she wailed, and rolled on her back.
Jaime set the ball down and gave Cloudberry a gentle clop-clop round of applause.
“Now babbehs. Dat was bad times. Cwoudbewwy nu ask fow baww, onwy demand. Jaime am meanie, an’ Cwoudy am cwybaby! Bof does fing wiww make mummahs and daddehs hab heawt huwties!”
Cloudberry continued his lesson, “If fwuffy ask anoddah fwuffy, den fwuffy mus’ be powite!”
Returning to their roleplay, Cloudy approached Jaime.
“Hewwo Jaime! When Jaime done wif baww, can Cwoudy pway wiff baww?”
“Suwe fin, Cwoudy! Wan’ pway wif baww togeddah?”
Jaime began to roll the ball to Cloudy, who rolled it back to him.
"See babbehs! Am simpew!, Cloudberry told the class.
“Now babbehs, fwuffies mus’ aways wisten to mummah an daddeh when mummah ow daddeh say nu to somefin’ fwuffy wan’. Pwetend Cwoudy am hoomin mummah fow fwuffy.”
Cloudberry stood up on her hind legs, while Jaime squatted on all fours to look up at her.
“Hewwo mummah-Cwoudy! Can Jaime hab sketties?”
“Nu Jaime. Dis bwite time nu am skettie bwite time! Bu’ soon! Mummah pwomise!”
“Fank 'ou mummah! Jaime wiww wait for skettie bwite time!”
He rolled back on to his rump to address the class again.
“See cwass? Vewy simpew. Now, fow mowe ad-vance exampew. Wazuwi, pwease join fwuffies hewe.”
Lazuli perked up hearing her name. “Wazuzi coming pwofessow!”, she said, and trotted to the front of the class.
“Wazuwi, pwetend 'ou want sketties, and Cwoudy mummah say ‘nu sketties fow Wazuwi!’ How Wazuwi feew in finky pwace?”
Lazuli took on a look of concentration. Thinking about the times she had been told no, and how angry it had made her. How her anger had gotten her in so much trouble.
“Wazuwi hab hatchu feww! Bu’ Wazuwi wemembew when feww hatchu, mummah an’ daddeh hab biggest heawt huwties. Den Wazuwi am punished. An’ Wazuwi habe heawt huwties. So, Wazuwi fink bad finkies, but den fink about why mummah say nu. Too many sketties am bad fow fwuffies. Make tummeh too big and weggies nu wowk!”
“Dat wight Wazuwi! Fwuffies can hab bad finkes when nu get wha’ fwuffy wan’. Am natoowal. Bu’ fwuffies need be good fwuffies, and be nice. Fink abou’ why fwuffy hab bad finkies. If fwuffy nu unna’stan, fwuffy ask!”, Jaime nodded at Lazuli to engage the role play.
“Mummah Cwoudy! Wazuwi am su hungy! Why nu sketties fow Wazuwi?”, she asked Cloudberry.
Cloudberry smiled at her younger sister’s engagement. “Babbeh am wittew babbeh, an’ too many sketties wiww gib tummeh huwties. But babbeh can hab nummie kibbews.”
Lazuli continued the role play. “Wazuwi nu wan kibbew!”, she replied.
“Weww, Wazuwi hab kibble ow hab noffin’!”, Cloudy returned.
“Wazuwi nu wan’ be hungwy nu mowe. Sowwy mummah, Wazuwi wiww hab kibble.”
Jaime patted Lazuli on the head. “Goood wowk! See cwass? Wazuwi ask why, bu’ Wazuwi stiww wan sketties. Mummah Cwoudy esplain why nu sketties for Wazuwi. When Wazuwi fin’ out Wazuwi nu hab nummies, Wazuwi say sowwy.”
The enthralled class of fluffy foals all began clapping their tiny hooves again.
Jaime gave Lazuli another pat on the head. “Fank 'ou Wazuwi. Am gud babbeh! Gib gud hewp!”
Lazuli smiled at her teacher and sister, and returned to her spot.
For the past couple weeks, Lazuli had been Jaime’s best student. She paid the most attention, she was the most active. Her fat rolls had disolved off her quickly thanks to her ongoing growth spurt no longer being complicated by her overindulgence. She’d also taken a quick liking to the milk-softened kibble and adored the chewy healthy kibble when she was big enough to eat it.
After the class ended, Jaime asked Lazuli to stay behind.
“Hewwo Wazuwi. Jaime wan’ tawk wif babbeh.”, he said, Cloudberry at his side.
“Wazuwi am bad fwuffy?”, she asked. Her trauma of her punishment had not fully subsided, and she was constantly worried about stepping out of line.
“Nu, Wazuwi. Jaime an’ Cwoudy wan’ teww Wazuwi dat am su pwoud! Wazuwi weawn fast, am nice to aww do odda babbehs, an’ gib biggest heawt happies to mummah Papwiki an’ daddeh Mustawd. Wazuwi nu am bestest babbeh nu mowe. Wazuwi am gud babbeh now!”
Lazuli was stunned. She was a good baby now? When did that happen? She thought she would be a bad baby forever, after the horrible things she’d done to her parents and siblings.
Cloudy chimed in, “Wazuwi wowk ekstwa hawd to be gud fwuffy. Wazuwi unna’stan’ Wazuwi am bad fwuffy befowe, bu’ do bestest to be gud fwuffy. Wazuwi nu need be pewfek fwuffy, but Wazuwi am gud fwuffy fow suwe!”
Lazuli began to cry. She hugged her elder sister tight. This validation made all the lingering pain in her heart flee at once. She’d never forget her ordeal in the sorry box. Part of her even knew that she might be bad again some day, and be put back there. But she was able to reconcile that she was no longer the monster she was before. She could be a good fluffy. She could be a good fluffy who deserved love.