Pound and Pumpkin Tales 1

by Never2muchpinkie


16-2: Proud parents

Pound woke up in the morning in good spirits. “Wake up, Pumpkin!” he yelled, hopping up and down on his bed.

Pumpkin rose up pretty quickly, already energized. She jumped from her bed to his, knocking him down and play-wrestling with him, the two of them laughing away.

“Man, today is such a great day!” Pumpkin said joyfully.

“I know, right!” Pound replied.

“Playing with Skyla was so much fun.”

“It’s too bad she had to go home, but it was great while it lasted.”

“Let’s play a game!”

“Okay!”

The twins had been surprised yesterday when they felt the hooves poking them; their names being called. They hadn’t even realized they had fallen asleep. They had been a little embarrassed, but when Cadance thanked them for watching over her child they had felt better.

While they had been asleep the rest of their friends had gathered at Sugarcube Corner, and they had to share Skyla with everyone. Skyla adored the interest everyone lavished on her, but when she grew overwhelmed with all the new ponies and the attention the twins hearts melted again when she teleported out of Rarity’s hooves and sought out the two of them for comfort. It was one of the most precious moments of their lives.

Cadance and Shining tried to leave at one point, but Skyla wouldn’t budge from the twins. She cried and cried and her horn flashed dangerously, shattering one of the display cases. Cadance elected to give in rather than set Skyla off. She let the three of them play together until they tired her out again and she went back to sleep.

By the time Skyla left the two of them were in very high spirits, and they didn’t fight or cause any trouble the rest of the evening. They even brushed their teeth and went to bed without being told.

Cup Cake was humming to herself as she washed the dishes. Carrot Cake was sitting at the table, drinking coffee and reading the newspaper. Pumpkin came into the room, grabbing a chair and pushing it toward a cabinet.

“Morning, Sweetheart,” Carrot said. “How are you this morning? Sleep well?”

“Real good,” she replied. “I got great news!”

“Really?” Cup Cake said, turning her head a bit. “And what’s that?”

“I’m pregnant!” she said excitedly.

“W-WHAT?” Cup Cake stammered out, the dish she was washing slipping out of her hooves. Carrot Cake was choking on his coffee.

Pumpkin hopped up onto the chair as she pulled the cabinet open, looking around inside it, oblivious to her parent’s reactions. “Yeah, and Pound’s the daddy.”

They both looked at each other, horrified and speechless.

“Aha!” Pumpkin said, pulling out one of her mom’s aprons. With a little help from her magic she tied it to her. “That should do it.” She hopped off the chair, levitating a stuffed animal to her. Pulling it down with her hoof she slipped it under the apron.

Sitting on her back legs she lifted herself up. “How do I look?”

“How… do you…” Carrot couldn’t finish.

Pumpkin rolled her eyes. “Oh, come on! Pregnant! Do I look pregnant now?”

Suddenly the switch was pulled, and Carrot and Cup Cakes minds caught up with their emotions.

“Oh! Oh! Right!” Cup Cake said quickly, laughing nervously. “You look perfect.”

“So you’re playing mommy and daddy, huh?” asked Carrot hopefully.

Pumpkin rolled her eyes again. “Duh. What did you think I was talking about?”

“Nothing, nothing!” he said quickly, shaking a hoof at her.

“Adults are so weird,” Pumpkin said under her breath as she went to the living room, Pound waiting for her.

“Took you long enough,” he complained.

“Oh, shut up,” she said with a giggle. “How do I look?”

“Fat,” Pound said with a snicker.

“Oh!” Pumpkin put a hoof to her head, falling to the ground dramatically. “How could you be so cruel, husband?” She pretended to pass out.

Pound fell on his knees, crying out to the sky, “Noooooooooo! Wake up, wife!”

“Uh-oh!” Pumpkin said, getting up. “I think the baby’s coming.”

“Quick! Let’s get to the hospital.” Pound helped her into their wagon, pulling it around the room a few times before coming to a stop and setting her on the couch. “Now we need to get you a doctor.

“MOM! DAD!”

The two of them came into the room. “Yes, Pound?” said Cup Cake.

“Pumpkin’s having a baby. We need a doctor.”

“Oh, okay. Carrot, you can do it. I’ll be your nurse.”

“Sure, honey,” he replied, giving her a kiss.

“Hey, hey, hey!” Pound chimed in. “Kiss on your own time. This baby ain’t delivering itself.”

The two of them looked at each other, suppressing laughs. “Yes, dear.”

Pumpkin went through the motions of being in pain and struggling. Pound held her hoof in his, patting it with his other one. “Be strong, honey! It’s almost here,” he said encouragingly.

“Thank you, honey. I love you!”

“I love you too!” Pound replied tenderly.

“Alright, Pumpkin-”

“That’s Mrs. Cake to you!” Pumpkin said strongly. “I’m not a baby here.”

Cup Cake put a hoof to her mouth to stifle her laughter.

“Right, right, my apologies,” Carrot said easily. “Mrs. Cake, I can see the head. I think one more good push will do it.”

So Pumpkin strained and strained, using her horn to push the baby out from under her apron.

“Congratulations!” Cup Cake said enthusiastically. “It’s a giraffe! Somehow.”

Cup Cake and Carrot both began laughing hysterically, much to the annoyance of the kids, who were scowling fiercely.

“Hey!” Pound said sharply. “Be serious! You’re ruining the moment!”

“Oh, if looks could kill,” Carrot said as he noticed their expressions. He put a hoof on his wife. “Come now, dear. Professionalism.”

“Right,” she replied in a snooty voice, sticking her nose up. “Your new baby pony is here. And… it’s a girl.”

Pound and Pumpkin were torn between still being mad and returning to the game. After a few seconds they opted to just get on with it. “A baby girl!” Pumpkin said, hugging Pound. “I’m so happy!”

“Me too!” Pound replied, hugging her back.

Using a small seat cover they wrapped up the stuffed giraffe and handed it over to Pumpkin.

“Ooohhh!” Pumpkin squealed. “She’s so beautiful.”

“I know, right?” He rubbed his hoof across her forehead a few times. “Welcome to the world… um…”

“Oh, my,” Cup Cake said, throwing her hooves to her face. “You haven’t planned out any names for your child?”

“Not yet,” Pumpkin replied.

“How about Banana?” said Pound.

“Banana?”

“Yeah. Banana Cake!”

“No, that’s stupid. We can call her Strawberry Cake.”

He stuck out his tongue. “Bleh.”

“Well… how about we just combine them? Strawberry Banana Cake?”

“Hey! How come YOUR name comes first?”

“I was TRYING to work together, but if you’re gonna be a dummy head then fine!”

“Now, now,” Cup Cake said gently. “Don’t fight in front of the baby.”

The twins faces lightened up, and they looked up at their mother. “What do you think we should name her?”

“Hmm. I don’t know. It’s your baby. Just try and cooperate.”

Pound sucked on his cheek, then smiled. “Fine. We can call her Strawberry, but I’m calling her Straw for short.”

Pumpkin shook her head. “Brothers.” Catching herself she corrected, “Husbands.”

“Alright, then!” Carrot said authoritatively, pulling out a clipboard and jotting something down. “And there… we… go.” He held out his hoof.

Pound reached his hoof out and took the paper. “Yay! Straw’s birth cirti… circum… that paper that shows she was born.”

“Certificate,” Cup Cake corrected automatically.

“Yeah, that thing.”

“Well, you’ve all been through a pretty big morning, haven’t you? I’m sure you could use a little breakfast.”

Almost immediately their little stomachs began to growl, and they realized that they really were famished. They hadn’t eaten anything yet, and they needed some fuel to sustain their excitement.

“Okay!” they both replied.

“I want pancakes!” Pound piped up.

“I want waffles,” Pumpkin said right after.

“Alright, then,” Cup Cake said, nuzzling her children. “I’ll call you when they’re ready.”

“Thanks, mom!” they said in unison.

'Ah, I love my children,' she thought as she headed to the kitchen.

Pumpkin was rocking the baby back and forth while Pound cooed at her and played peek-a-boo, Pumpkin adding a voice for Strawberry.

Carrot watched his children, amused. He wasn’t used to them being so cooperative. They hadn’t played house before. He was interested to see where they would go from there now that they had a child of their own.

When the food was done Carrot was impressed they didn’t immediately suspend the game to go eat, but rather brought Strawberry with them to the table. When Pumpkin sat on her seat Pound handed her over, setting her upright in Pumpkin’s lap.

Pumpkin looked down at her food but didn’t touch it.

“Something wrong, honey?” asked Carrot.

Pumpkin hesitated, then said, “Well, little babies are supposed to be fed formula, right? But we don’t have that. So let’s just skip that and say she’s old enough to eat solid food.”

Carrot and Cup Cake both snickered as they met eyes, sly grins across their faces. “Ah, if only it was so easy to skip the parts you didn’t like of a child’s life,” she said. “But sure. It’s your game, after all. We’ll play it the way you want.”

“That okay with you, Pound?” Pumpkin asked.

“Doesn’t matter to me,” he replied.

“So let’s continue.”

Pumpkin cut up her waffle into little pieces before pouring syrup on it. She speared a piece with her fork, bringing it to Strawberry’s lips. “Nom nom nom nom nom!

“Good girl, Strawberry. Eat it all up.” She brought the piece to her mouth. “Mmm. Great stuff, Mom.”

“Thank you, Pumpkin,” she replied. “Oh, right. You’re 'Mrs. Cake' now, right?”

“It’s fine.” She stuffed another piece in.

Pound was digging in as well. “I love the pancakes you make. You’re a great cook.”

Cup Cake blushed at the praise. “Well, I do my best.” She rustled his mane a bit. “I wouldn’t have a successful bakery if I couldn’t cook, hmm?”

“I guess not.”

Once breakfast was over Pumpkin helped her mom with the dishes while Pound took the baby.

Pumpkin was on a stool next to her mother, using her magic to help her as she dipped her hooves in the warm soapy water and pulled out plates, squirting soap on them. “Having a baby is fun, isn’t it?” Pumpkin said, smiling. “You get to play games and hug and snuggle.”

Cup Cake nodded as she took the dish and began scrubbing it. “The pain of childbirth is always outweighed by the benefits.”

“So how come you decided to have twins?”

She smiled at Pumpkin’s naiveté. “It isn’t up to us. When you make a baby there’s no telling how it will turn out. It might be a boy or girl. You might have just one or more.”

“How come you don’t know?” She took back the first dish and began drying it. “If you buy a house you know what it looks like.”

“Your comparison isn’t quite right, honey. When you buy a house the house is already built. With a baby it’s more like looking at a blank sheet of paper when you feel like drawing. You don’t know what you’re gonna end up with until it’s done.”

“Oh.” She paused thoughtfully before placing the dry dish in the drainer and grabbing another one. “So does that mean I really could give birth to a baby giraffe?”

Cup Cake burst out into laughter. “N-n-no, you silly!” She wiped her face of a tear.

“Hey, why are you laughing at me? You said it could be anything.”

“Sorry, sorry.” She gave Pumpkin a quick hug. “I just didn’t expect that.

“But to answer your question having a baby isn’t completely random. Just their gender and features, as well as how many you’ll have. The species you’ll birth will always be your own since babies are made of parts of their parents. If you add one pony and one pony it would be odd to give birth to a spider, wouldn’t it?”

Pumpkin sucked on her cheek, looking at her mom, then up at herself, putting a hoof to her horn. “If that’s true then why are me and Pound different than you? I’m a unicorn, and he’s a Pegasus, and you’re both earth ponies. Shouldn’t we be earth ponies too?”

“Good question." She nodded approvingly. "The reason is that while you’re made by your parents, we in turn were made by our parents, and they by their parents, and so on and so on. At some point in the past one of our family members married and had a baby with a pegasus and unicorn, which means we have unicorn and pegasus in our blood as well. We were just born as earth ponies.

“It’s just like I told you before: we don’t know what the baby will be until it’s here. If our ancestors had never mated with other pony races you would have been earth ponies without a doubt since you wouldn’t have taken in those genes.”

Pumpkin paused in her work, an old fear coming to her. She thought of her first day of school. “Mom?” she said quietly.

“Yes, Pumpkin?”

“How… how do you feel about… about… us?”

“What do you mean, honey?”

A tear came down her eye. “Do… d-do you hate us for being different?”

“Hate you?” Before Cup Cake could continue Pumpkin was nearly sobbing.

“W-w-w-we’re different than you. D-do you wish we had been earth ponies? Do you feel-feel ashamed of us?”

“Oh, Pumpkin!” Cup Cake said consolingly, grabbing her trembling daughter in a comforting hug. “None of that now.”

But Pumpkin only began blubbering harder. “I-I-I sometimes feel so afraid, that you’re-you’re jealous that I can do magic and you can’t. I’m scared you’re gonna stop loving me!”

Cup Cake’s heart burned. Was that really how her daughter felt? She pulled Pumpkin off the chair, sitting on the floor of the kitchen, squeezing tightly as Pumpkin sobbed into her chest.

Pound had gone to the living room, half-listening as he continued playing with Strawberry, but when he heard Pumpkin start crying he immediately dropped the toy on the floor and ran back to the kitchen. “What’s wrong, Pumpkin?”

Cup Cake looked at her son with teary eyes, opening up a hoof and pulling him to her as well. Carrot joined his wife on the floor. “Pumpkin got a little overwhelmed,” Cup Cake said.

Pound turned himself in his mother’s hooves so he could face Pumpkin, hugging her as well. “What happened?”

Pumpkin tried to answer, but only got out a few half-words before she just broke down into more hiccupping sobs.

“I’m glad you’re here too, Pound, because you also need to hear this,” Cup Cake said over Pumpkin’s crying. “Pinkie Pie reminding you of her words helped you break out of Discord’s magical influence. So let me repeat them. You are both my children, and I will always love you no matter what. That will never change, no matter how bad you act or the mistakes you make.” Releasing Pound she moved her hoof in the familiar motion. “Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye.”

“Pinkie Promise,” Carrot said right after, also moving his hoof.

Pumpkin gulped, still shaking, but she let out a deep breath, easing some of the tension in her body as she hugged her mother harder. Her sobbing settled down slowly as her emotions gradually eased.

“What’s all this about?” Pound asked, confused.

Cup Cake rubbed his head gently. “Your sister was afraid we might hate her for having something we don’t.”

“Like what?”

“M-my h-horn,” Pumpkin stuttered out, putting a hoof to it.

Something clicked in his mind, a vague memory. That sounded familiar.

“I-I-I talked with P-Pound once about this. Sometimes I get scared that you don’t like me for being a unicorn.”

Now Pound remembered. “Yeah. That was at school.”

Cup Cake pushed her children back a bit. Pumpkin reluctantly let go of her mother and threw a leg over Pound instead. “Pound, we were talking about genetics and babies and how they come to look the way they do. So now that you’re caught up I want both of you to listen very carefully to me.

“You’re my children. I love you no matter what you are. Throughout my family and your father’s family the majority of our couplings have been earth ponies, but one of them mated with a unicorn and another a pegasus. The odds of having both of those different family traits come out after several generations in the two of you is nothing short of phenomenal. Both of you are my little miracles. I don’t care if you’re a pegasus and a unicorn, and I certainly don’t feel ashamed of either of you for not being earth ponies like us. That’s something you had no control over. I wouldn’t even care if I had actually given birth to a giraffe. You would still be my babies at the end of the day, and I would love you with all my heart no matter what other ponies said or thought about it.”

“Give birth to a giraffe?” Pound mouthed the words, scratching his head. He didn’t get it, but he didn’t want to interrupt.

She put her hoof under her daughter’s chin, pushing her head up to look into her dull eyes, the light in them dim. She kissed Pumpkin’s forehead, then kissed her tears away. She pulled Pumpkin to her again, closing her eyes as she said lovingly, “I’m proud of you, Pumpkin, for what you are. I’m happy that you’re a unicorn. I’m happy that Pound is a pegasus. Our family is made up of all three pony races. And we demonstrate all the time that the prejudice and racism of the past has gone away. We demonstrate love and friendship and family and togetherness, despite all our differences.”

Pound had been feeling left out of the loop, and he didn’t care before, but now, watching Pumpkin and their mom hugging, he was feeling a bit lonely. He crawled off his mom and went to his dad, who graciously held him too. He nuzzled his dad, sinking into his warm hold.

“Your mother is right,” Carrot said, speaking up. “It doesn’t matter a bit to us whether you have or don’t have horns or wings. What’s the most important to us is that we all love each other. It’s our similarities that make us a family, but it’s our differences that make us special… unique. The two of you have special talents that we will never have, but the same goes for us. We have abilities that you never will, and that’s okay. All we want is for you two to grow into your most powerful selves.”

Carrot rustled his mane a bit. “Would it be nice to be a unicorn? Sure. It would make the baking easier. It would save some time. We might not have to worry so much about balance if we could fly with the products and we wouldn’t have to be concerned with obstacles because we could just fly over them. So maybe there is a tiny bit of jealousy there.”

Cup Cake turned her head to her husband as she felt Pumpkin stiffen. She sighed. “Being perfectly honest I have to agree. There is a small degree of jealousy in my heart. However, don’t get the wrong idea. It doesn’t change how much we love you or how badly we want you to succeed.

“Pumpkin, we want you to work hard at developing your magic and become the best unicorn you could possibly be. And the same for you, Pound. We want you to become the best flier you can be. We would never dream of stifling your natural talents simply because we can’t do what you can do.”

“Parents get jealous of their kids?” Pound asked.

Carrot nodded, rubbing his head. “We may be grown up, but we’re ponies just like you. We have all the feelings you do. We can lose our temper, be immature and irresponsible, call each other names, be jealous, you name it. We can do all these things, but we try hard not to.”

“So it’s… okay? To be jealous?”

“The way you feel is never a problem. It’s what you DO with those feelings that brings trouble. It was the same with you, Pound, when you were in the habit of trying to attack anyone who hurt Pumpkin. With a bit of time and practice you stopped losing control of your emotions and got in the habit of telling an authority figure instead of resorting to violence.”

Pound nodded, understanding.

“So even though we feel jealous it’s okay because it doesn’t change the way we act toward you. If we were so jealous that, say, we tried to put you in surgery to have your wings removed, or put you up for adoption, then, yes, it would become a problem.”

“Oh…” Pound thought for a few moments. “Sometimes I get a little jealous of Pumpkin too. It would be really cool if I could make stuff move with my mind. And then you and dad are so grown up already and make all the rules and stuff. Sometimes I get jealous of you too.”

“I… I guess I do too,” Pumpkin said, calmer now as she looked at her parents. “I wish I could do more and I feel like there’s so much stuff I can’t do.”

“I… I guess that’s why we let Mayhem talk us into stealing Discord’s magic.” He twinged a bit with guilt. “We just wanted to feel in control for once.”

Pumpkin hung her head. “And then we almost attacked everyone.”

“Hey, hey, hey,” Carrot said. “You’ve already been punished for that. Don’t punish yourself more for it.”

“I understand how you feel,” Cup Cake said, patting Pumpkins head. “When we were kids we also got in our fair share of trouble and wishing we could be all grown up. But growing up doesn’t come easy, you know. It means making tough decisions, running a household, laying down the rules, fighting for what you believe is right…

“We start our lives wishing we were older, but then we’re older we wish we could go back to being young and stupid. At least when you’re children everything is new. Your parents and teachers tell you what to do, which can be annoying, but it also means you don’t have to make any of your own decisions. So a kid or an adult. Neither side has it too good or too bad, hmm?”

“I guess not,” said Pound. “I thought being an adult was easy.”

Cup Cake and Carrot began to laugh. “Easy… right. You may have more freedom to make choices, but you’re also going to be judged for those choices much more as you grow older because you’re expected to be smart enough to know what to do. ”

“What about being a parent?” asked Pumpkin.

“And that is even trickier, because the way your children turn out is largely dependent on their upbringing and the lessons you instill in them. Just like we can do to you, I’m sure, you can really get on our nerves when you misbehave or don’t listen. But don’t think for a moment that we’ve ever regretted having kids. Just like Pinkie taught you: hate the behavior, not the pony.”

“You two played with Skyla yesterday,” said Carrot. “I think you can understand how much joy a baby can give you.”

“We’re not babies anymore!” Pound said immediately.

“Of course not, but you’ll always be our babies.”

“Ugh.” He rolled his eyes. “Well, I think I should go check on OUR baby. Come on, Pumpkin. We got adults to be.”

“Okay, Pound,” she replied, the two of them getting up and going to the living room.

Cup Cake and Carrot followed, observing them as they did many of the same things they did with Skyla. They changed her, let her ride on their backs, comforted her when she got upset, scolded her when she misbehaved, forgave her when she apologized, and finally put her down for a nap.

Pound sighed heavily, his face drooped. “What a day. I’m exhausted from taking care of our daughter all afternoon.”

“Aww, my poor sweet honeybun,” Pumpkin said with concern. “Here. Just lay down on the floor.” When he did she sat on her haunches. “Now close your eyes and just relax.”

Pound sat his head on his hooves, shutting his eyes as Pumpkin put her hooves on his back and began running them up and down. He let out a soft sigh.

“There you go. You’re feeling better already, hmm?”

Carrot chuckled softly, setting his head on his wife. “You know, you really are good at that. I wouldn’t say no to one of your famous massages.”

“You’ll have to wait ‘til later,” she replied, giving him a soft shove and a wink. “Just look at them. Copying us. It’s like looking at a mirror.” A tear came down her eyes. “Did we demonstrate love and compassion to our children? Looking at the way they’re imitating us I guess the answer is yes.”

Carrot took his gaze off his wife and back to their kids.

Pound got up, giving Pumpkin a quick peck on the cheek. “Aw, thank you. I really needed that. How about a hug?”

Pumpkin raised her hooves, extending them towards him. With a devious laugh Pound jammed his hooves under Pumpkins armpits and tickled her, making her squeal.

“Hey!” Pumpkin whined before grinning back at him, “If that’s the way you want to play it then I’m game.” She tackled him to the ground, and the two of them rolled around on the floor doing their best to tickle one another.

“It’s a question that runs through every parents mind,” said Cup Cake. “Are we good parents? Have we done a good job of teaching our kids the right things, the things they really need to know? I know we don’t always see eye to eye on everything, but watching them playing it seems the image they have of us is quite positive, and that we model friendship and companionship, the exact things that will help them in the future to grow into healthy adults.”

Carrot nuzzled her. “We don’t need to agree on everything. Just enough to get by.”

“Mom, Dad!” Pound piped up.

“Come here!” Pumpkin said right after.

“Yes, what’s up?” asked Carrot, approaching the pair.

“Sit down, sit down!”

He looked between the two, and they were so excited they were shivering, like Hearth’s Warming had come early. Vaguely he felt he knew what was coming.

Once the two of them had sat down Pound and Pumpkin jumped on their laps, still shaking with anticipation. “Mom, dad…” Pound looked at Pumpkin, and she back at him,

“We want to have another baby!” Pound finished, his voice positively trilling.

“Yeah, yeah!” Pumpkin called out. “We don’t want to play house with a little toy giraffe. We want to play with a real baby!”

Cup and Carrot now shared a knowing look, feeling they should have known it was coming.

“We took real good care of Skyla when she was here, so we’d take even better care of them if it was our actual brother or sister.”

“You know how protective I am of Pumpkin,” said Pound, raising and flexing his leg. “I wouldn’t let anyone pick on my other little sister. Or brother. Whichever it is.”

Cup Cake saw the joy and delight in their eyes, and hated the thought of taking it away. “I’m sorry, kids, but a new baby just isn’t in the cards right now.”

The two of them both pouted. “Why not?” Pound asked. “Don’t you believe that we would love her?”

“I don’t doubt that at all. I know you would.”

“So what’s the problem?” Pumpkin asked in a huff.

“The problem is the two of you are too optimistic. You’re only seeing the beauty and the good stuff when you have no idea of the strain involved in having and raising a baby.”

“Hey!” Pound jumped in. “Me and Pumpkin worked together to change a dirty diaper, even though it was totally gross. We can handle that kind of stuff.”

Cup Cake sighed, closing her eyes as she rubbed her head, wondering how she could get them to understand.

“The thing is,” said Carrot, "that responsibility is not a one-time thing. Sure, it’s easy to foalsit for a day, with her mother nearby and ample support if you screwed up. Doing it on a daily basis is another thing entirely. Even Pinkie Pie had to learn the lesson that taking care of a baby doesn’t just mean endless playtime.

“You have even less experience in what it means to be a parent. A baby starts out near helpless, and so their needs always have to come before your own. If you’re eating, if you’re tired, if you’re just in the mood for a rest, and your baby cries you have to tend to them. It means a lot of giving up the things you want, as well as sleep for when they have troubled nights.

“And it’s not like the baby would come out right away anyway, even if we did consider it. Are you willing to wait ten to eleven months for it, because it won’t come any sooner than that.”

“And then, of course,” said Cup Cake, “is that a pregnant pony is heavier, gets tired easier, and has trouble moving around and getting things done. During the last two months of my pregnancy with you all I could really do was operate the register, so profits were down during that time. Usually in the slow hours I could go back and help whip up some extra treats with your father, but that was it. If it wasn’t for Pinkie being the amazing baker she is there’s no way we would have made it through that dip in income.

“To think of having three or even four children to look after is staggering. The two of you have spent a few months in school and just started to mature, and I think our efforts would be better spent focusing on the children we do have rather than making some more.

“So I’m sorry, but an addition to the family is just not going to work right now.”

Pound and Pumpkin didn’t yell or try to argue the point. They just slipped off their parents laps back on the floor and walked away. Pound gave a halfhearted kick to the giraffe toy and the two leaned against one of the sofas, totally deflated.

They sat there, unmoving, totally silent, heads drooped, devoid of all spirit. Five minutes went by, and still they sat unmoving.

Cup Cake bit her lip. She hated to see her children like this, but she didn’t know what she could do to cheer them up. Pinkie knew everyone in Ponyville. Surely she would know a mare or two that could use a foalsitter. But they would just have the same problem. It would only be temporary.

Carrot had a pit in his stomach, similarly thinking of things that might cheer them up.

Cup Cake tried to look at things from another angle. What were they really asking for? They had commented earlier on feeling powerless at times. They were starting to grow up and enter the world now that they were in school and interacting with peers. It sounded to her like what they were really after was having more responsibility, a sense of control in their childish world. So they wanted to look after another living thing to feel more powerful.

“Aha!” she said as the idea sparked inside her. “Come here, kids. I’ve got just the thing to put a smile back on your faces.”

They stayed right where they were. Pound said dully, “I don’t care if you’re offering ice cream and cupcakes for every meal all month. We don’t want it.”

“Now don’t say that. I know of a way you can get what you want, and on a brighter note you won’t even have to wait for it. You can have it right now.”

A flicker of interest flitted between them. Feeling a little energy they got up and headed back to their mother’s lap.

“So what is it?” Pound asked shortly, getting right to the point.

“Your birthdays are next month, so I think this will work out fine.”

“We don’t want a present!” Pumpkin said, irritated.

“Just listen to me. If you want more responsibility then we’ll give you two a shot. We’ll get you what you want right now, and if you prove that you can handle it until your birthday you’ll get to keep them.”

“What are you talking about?” She rotated her head in a circle.

“We’re going to go to Fluttershy’s.”

Now they just looked confused. “Why her?”

She leaned over to her husband and whispered in his ear. His face lit up, and he nodded.

“Your mother just told me the good news,” he said, smiling.

“WHAT GOOD NEWS?” Pound threw up his hooves. “Just say it already!’

“You both want something to take care of, don’t you? If might not be exactly what you asked for, but what does Fluttershy have more of than she can count?”

For a moment the two of them looked stymied, then came the dawning revelation. “Wait, wait!” Pound said, his anger gone. “So we’re gonna get a pet?”

“Two,” corrected Cup Cake. “You’ll both get to pick out your own.”

All the excitement came back to them as they squealed with joy and hugged their parents. “Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!”

“There we go,” Carrot said warmly. “As your mother said these animals will be all yours. You’ll be totally responsible for them and their well-being. Fluttershy and the two of us and Pinkie will help to instruct you in taking proper care of them, but everything else will be down to you. If you prove you can listen and care for them diligently then on your birthday we’ll have Fluttershy make it official.”

As they emerged from their parents embraces the two of them were crying they were so happy. “We’ll do the best ever!” Pound said confidently.

“Always!” Pumpkin said eagerly. Her face dropped right after. “Oh, but…” She stopped, not wanting to ruin their opportunity.

“But what?” asked Carrot.

“Well… what’s gonna happen while we’re at school? We can’t take them with us.”

Pound felt like he got hit in the gut. “Oh… that’s right.”

Cup Cake nuzzled Pumpkin’s nose with her own. “No worries about that. We’ll take over while you’re learning. Some pets don’t need much care, just love and affection. So don’t worry about that detail. We want to see what you do when you ARE there, rather than when you aren’t.”

Pumpkin let out a sigh of relief, her excitement returning. “Can we go right now?”

“Sure, Sweetheart.”

“WOOHOO!” they both shouted, slapping their hooves together. “Our first pet!”

Cup Cake and Carrot got on the floor, and Pound and Pumpkin climbed onto their backs.

“LET’S GO!” Pound yelled, pointing his hoof from his mother’s back.

Cup Cake chuckled. “Yes, boss.”

As they got into the fresh air Pumpkin was feeling a little devious as she looked at her brother. “So, Dad,” she said, leaning over him. “who’s faster? You or Mom?”

Carrot snorted, before meeting eyes with his wife. A sly grin on his face he said, “Why don’t we find out?”

“Bring it on, cowboy!” she responded mischievously. “Hold on tight, Pound!”

Pound clutched his mother around the neck as she reared back and took off, thinking that today was the best day EVER!