So today the story of why sheep has a very special place in my heart and this is not a cheap story.
I have always told stories from early childhood. In the school yard, already from first grade, I told stories for my friends mostly because I was not very good at football, what the Americans call soccer, in fact quite lousy. I would make up stories about places we talked about during class even if I never sat my foot there or the strange man living alone in that old farm outside the city. This went on even as I was growing older and even as I did military service I sat there making up stories around the tent stove. I met my wife and we got two kids, two lovely boys with less than two years apart. Even before they were born I started to sing, rhyme and tell stories for them and when they were born and a bit older I use to involve them in the creation of the stories. Many of those stories were rhyme and we also love to read books with rhyme.
When my sons were ten and twelve we went on holiday to the lovely island Gotland. It is a rock in the Baltic Sea made of lime stone and there is an amazing cave Lummelunda we went to. My wife always finds the souvenir shop as the highlight of everything we visits and could spend all her time there. She was pushing the guys to buy a small bowl, probably made in China, with the text Lummelunda Grottan to remember the visit but the youngest refused and pointed on soft toy at the back shelf. It was a twenty centimetres long, ten centimetres wide and ten centimetres high cuddle sheep! He immediately named it Ulle and hugged him intensively for the rest of that trip (in Swedish Ull means Wool). In Visby Ulle got a friend half the size but looking exactly the same after some protesting from my wallet. It was decided to be a she so she got the name Ulla. On the ferry to the mainland another cuddly soft toys even smaller was added to the collection with the name Junior.
Ulle and his little “family” fast became the center of the story telling. With a deep voice, same depth as Chef in South Park, he began to tell about his adventures around the world. For all the adventures he has experienced he must be at least 250 years old. Ulle likes to eat socks and has built in socks sorting machine that sounds chew, chew, chew. He farts a lot specially when eating socks or lying. He always tries to find excuses to go to the sock drawer. He is also the only sheep in the world that can fly! He does that by farting and since flying is dangerous should he run out of air in column he has mastered the ability to fart inwards. Ulla his wife often wonders why more comes out than goes in. Ulles predilection to rod or fart often puts him in difficult situations where he looses a prestigious job. Like the time he was a mascot for a football team and eat the visiting teams socks. Something happens in Ulles inside when he eats socks so ha began to fart so much that the players on both teams start to pass out. The referee gave him a red card, big mistake! Ulle rod him in the rear together with the side referee so they flew up in the audience that now also started to pass out. So he was fired! He also held a job with a well known president but that is another story and since I am on Twitter I dare not write it down.
Soon all soft toys sheep started to develop a personality along with the stories and the number of sheep increased as a sheep was bought on every travel we made. The rule was if you held it you must buy it. My son named them all. Ulla soon developed a personality to match Ulle but with a very high pitch voice. Her self esteem is very, very solid in fact she is the best of the best! Every day she explains the scientific proof of the fact that she is the best. She asks if she is cuddly and yes this is true and then she asks if she is the cuddliest and you cannot deny this. That means that she is the best of being cuddly, right. Cannot deny this so that must mean that she is the best! Logical proof! Baa! Ulla is the leader of the quite large pack keeping the rest in order with her high pitched voice. There are many common features between Ulla and my wife but that must be a coincidence! Ulla has a soft spot for long underwear and has a factory at Svalbard where she is convinced there are polar sheep. She is a hard business woman, Ewe, driving the factory with student lamb coming to see the production.
Even today as my son is twenty years old the sheep play an important part of our daily life. All parents I think feel that their children are special and so did we even if the youngest was very special the entire childhood. It was when he was in high school we realized that he was really special, he was diagnosed with Autism spectrum or Asperger’s syndrome. This means he is extremely intelligent and high functioning in some areas while he struggles in other more basic areas and especially with social interactions. I realized that the stories and personalities the sheep develop was a way for us to communicate and for him to handle his emotions. We very rarely hug without the sheep between us. He is easily stressed and then he can say Ulle does not feel very well. As a high functioning autistic he struggled in high school where the teachers often choose to disregard his special needs especially in language classes where you need to express feelings and thoughts, in Sweden we learn also English and a third language, German, Spanish or French. Straight A:s in all logical subjects but often failing in the humanistic subjects drove him into a deep depression. We still struggle with this but the sheep is there to support.
On a small island in the fjord there are some sheep that likes to run away and is therefore put on this island. We call it the sheep Alcatraz. This island is our special place and when the sheep hear the sound of our boat approaching they come running to see if we have any candy for them. I will share some pictures of them with you and if you think someone could enjoy or benefit from this text please share. Like, subscribe and comment!