(I’ve started posting stories that I make up for my daughter here. This is the first one I’ve written up.)
Me: Youâ€™re acting like a sloth this morning!
E: Whatâ€™s a sloth?
Me: An animal that moves very slowly.
E: Whyâ€™s it so slow?
The Story of the Three-Toed Sloth
Once upon a time, when the world was young, the sloth was the fastest of all the animals. The sloth was so swift that, when he ran, you could hardly see him; â€œIâ€™m faster than lighting, faster than a thought,â€ he liked to boast.
One day the sloth went to visit his friend the Learned Astronomer, up in his observatory at the top of a mountain. When the sloth arrived he found the Astronomer in despair, leaning against his telescope and weeping.
â€œWhat is it?â€ asked the sloth. â€œWhatâ€™s wrong?â€
â€œItâ€™s better if you donâ€™t know,â€ the Astronomer said, wiping the tears off his glasses.
â€œPlease,â€ begged the kindly sloth, â€œyouâ€™re my friend. Iâ€™d like to help. Whatâ€™s the matter?â€
â€œWell, if you must know,â€ the Astronomer sobbed, â€œitâ€™s terrible news. The very worst. A huge asteroid is flying toward us through space. It will hit the earth in two days, and smash our beautiful planet.â€
â€œThatâ€™s awful!â€ cried the sloth.
â€œI know. And thereâ€™s no way to stop it. Thatâ€™s why itâ€™s better if no one knows,â€ the Astronomer sighed.
â€œNo way at all?â€ the sloth asked.
â€œWell â€“ there is one thing. But itâ€™s impossible. If there was a way to move the planet itself out of the way. If, say everyone jumped at the same instant, at two PM day after tomorrow. But as I said, itâ€™s impossible,â€ the Astronomer concluded. He turned to the sloth â€“ but the sloth was already gone.
The sloth raced out of the observatory and down the mountain, faster than heâ€™d ever run before. Halfway down the mountain he saw a family of mice. â€œAt two PM, day after tomorrow, all of you jump at once,â€ he shouted, barely slowing down. â€œTell everyone else! Itâ€™s a matter of life and death!â€ As he reached the forest at the bottom of the mountain he passed a bear searching for berries. â€œTwo PM, day after tomorrow,â€ he called, â€œjump up and down! Pass it on!â€
For the next two days, without stopping, the sloth ran raster than any animal had run before in the history of the world. He sloth raced from one place to the next, telling every animal and person he saw to jump at the appointed time. Like a streak if lightning he raced across plains, over bridges, through valleys. Some of the creatures he told to jump didnâ€™t hear him, or thought it was a joke. But most of them saw the slothâ€™s expression of desperate seriousness and realized this was important.
Before the asteroid arrived, the sloth managed to tell nearly every animal and person in the world the news. And when the time came, and the asteroid was about to hit, the sloth was so exhausted he barely had the strength left to give one mighty jump before collapsing to the ground. But he wasnâ€™t alone. All the other animals and people jumped with him, at the exact same time, and all of those jumps together pushed the earth just slightly to the side, so that the asteroid passed harmlessly by.
The sloth had saved the world. But he was so tired from all that running that neither he, nor any of his children, or his childrenâ€™s children, ever ran again. And that is why, to this day, the sloth is the slowest of animals.