Palomena Prasina sat on her leaf sucking sap and sulking.
‘What’s up with you?’ asked her mother.
‘I hate school!’ said Palomena without looking up.
Her mother, who was basking in the sun before hibernation time came, turned and looked at her eldest child. It caused a big ache in her stomach to see her so sad.
‘Has anyone upset you in school’ she said gently and crawled over the leaf until she was right in front of Palomena. Palomena shook her head.
‘Yes they have!’ shouted a spider as he wondered by. ‘I heard the beetles call her Stinky bug today!’
‘Stinky bug! Stinky bug!’ cried the young wingless nymphs that gathered around their sister.
‘Please be quiet children,’ said their mother. ‘Is this true Palomena?’
Palomena looked up at her mother and nodded sadly. ‘Do I stink?’ she asked. Her mother didn’t want to lie to her child so she told the truth.
‘Everyone has a special smell,’ she said. ‘If we are upset, just like you were at school, then you react with a stronger smell. It’s a sort of protection us bugs have! It shows we have feelings!’
‘But I don’t want to smell,’ said Palomena, ‘no-one will like me if I smell!’
The young nymphs gathered around their big sister. They had never seen her so upset before.
‘Don’t be afraid of the beetles and you won’t stink,’ said one little nymph. Palomena smiled at her little brother who was alwyas so wise.
‘The smell is a part of who we are,’ said the little nymph, ‘we cannot change that but we can try to control it.’
Palomena crawled over to her brother and touched him gently with her nose. ‘You are such a wise young nymph,’ she said, ‘I shall ignore the beetles in future and get on with my school work.’
And that is what Palomena Prasina did. She went to school the next day and when the beetles called her names, she ignored them. This went on for many days until the beetles suddenly stopped Palomena on the way home from school and asked her to be their friend.
‘Even though I stink?’ said Palomena.
‘Because, you stink,’ said a big black beetle.