This story was never meant to be a book. In fact, it was originally meant to be heard as a series of bedtime stories by only one small, somewhat spoiled child . . . my sister, Waunita Marie Shuler Reeves. Donâ€™t misunderstand, she wasnâ€™t spoiled because of bad parenting or a totally yielding 12 year older brother. No, she was spoiled by Doctorâ€™s Orders. Really.
You see, she was born with a problem that would have been potentially deadly if she used her stomach muscles too much. Of course, being a baby, she didnâ€™t know she was supposed to restrict some of her normal activities, like crying. So it became a team effort for our family to find ways to keep her from crying any more than could be helped. We, of course, tried all the normal ways of keeping a baby quiet, like holding her constantly and singing lullabies until we were ready to cry ourselves. We also did whatever we discovered that she liked, such as going on long walks outside.
The hard part, though, was what to do with her at bedtime. She did NOT like going to bed. So I began telling her some bedtime stories. She heard the Three Bears, Little Red Riding Hood and who knows how many other standard stories. Unfortunately, she was bored with them and so was I. So one night I told her a new story about a very brave, funny frog. I had no notion whatever about where the story was going to end. I only knew she needed to go to bed without crying. The story I told that first night is what, years later, became the first chapter of this book. It was only a beginning, but it caught my sisterâ€™s attention. She wanted more of the story. I kept telling just enough to keep her wondering what would happen next. Then, like the sneaky trickster I was, I told her she would only get to hear the next part if she would go to sleep right away. And, to everyoneâ€™s amazement, she did. Night after night she looked forward to hearing the next part of the story, and night after night I had to use my imagination to come up with SOMETHING that would keep her attention. By the time it was all done, I had made up all the stories that make the 10 chapters of this book and enough additional stories about more adventures of Lemondrop to write several other books.
Many years later, as adults, we were discussing things that happened in our childhood and my sister (now completely healthy and amazingly UNspoiled) asked me if I remembered the stories I used to tell her. I was amazed. After 25 years she still remembered the stories. She even wanted to buy a copy of the book that had the Lemondrop stories but she didnâ€™t know the name of the author. Imagine her shock to learn that each adventure was an invention made up by her brother as a spur of the moment attempt at keeping her quiet. Naturally, when she found out that I had made them up, she jumped to the next logical question. Would I write the stories down so she could tell them to her own young children?
Foolish brother that I was, I agreed. Not only agreed, but also PROMISED her I would write them. Now, decades after the original stories were told to a very sick child, I am STILL being begged to put the story on paper. So I dedicate this book to the pest for which the stories were originally meant. Nita, itâ€™s too late to read the story to your children, since they now have children of their own, but, here it is . . . your Lemondrop bedtime stories.
Maybe your grandchildren will enjoy them.
(Suggestion to parents who read bedtime stories to their children: this book is still laid out to be read one chapter at a time, followed by the immortal words â€śIâ€™ll read the next chapter tomorrow . . . but right now itâ€™s time to go to sleep.â€ť )
(Suggestion to children hearing this story: when you are told to go to sleep . . . do it. Believe me, you WANT to hear what happens next.)