Guess What, Peter?
Life was going along okay when my mother and father dropped the news.
Bam! Just like that.
"We have something wonderful to tell you, Peter," Mom said before
dinner. She was slicing carrots into the salad bowl. I grabbed one.
"What is it?" I asked. I figured maybe my father's been made president
of the company. Or maybe my teacher phoned, saying that even though I
don't get the best grades in the fifth grade, I am definitely the
smartest kid in the class.
"We're going to have a baby," Mom said.
"We're going to what?" I asked, starting to choke. Dad had to whack me
on the back. Tiny pieces of chewed up carrot flew out of my mouth and
hit the counter. Mom wiped them up with a sponge.
"Have a baby," Dad said.
"You mean you're pregnant?" I asked Mom.
"That's right," she told me, patting her middle. "Almost four months."
"Four months! You've known for four months and you didn't tell me?"
"We wanted to be sure," Dad said.
"It took you four months to be sure?"
"I saw the doctor for the second time today," Mom said. "The baby's due
in February." She reached over and tried to tousle my hair. I ducked and
got out of the way before she could touch me.
Dad took the lid off the pot on the stove and stirred up the stew. Mom
went back to slicing carrots. You'd have thought we were discussing the
"How could you?" I shouted. "How could you? Isn't one enough?"
They both stopped and looked at me.
I kept right on shouting. "Another Fudge! Just what this family needs."
I turned and stormed down the hall.
Fudge, my four-year-old brother, was in the living room. He was shoving
crackers into his mouth and laughing like a loon at Sesame Street
on TV. I looked at him and thought about having to go through it all
over again. The kicking and the screaming and the messes and more-much
more. I felt so angry that I kicked the wall.
Fudge turned. "Hi, Pee-tah," he said.
"You are the biggest pain ever invented!" I yelled.
He tossed a handful of crackers at me.
I raced to my room and slammed the door, so hard my map of the world
fell off the wall and landed on the bed. My dog, Turtle, barked. I
opened the door just enough to let him squeeze through, then slammed it
shut again. I pulled my Adidas bag out of the closet and emptied two
dresser drawers into it. Another Fudge, I said to myself.
They're going to have another Fudge.
There was a knock at my door, and Dad called, "Peter ..."
"Go away," I told him.
"I'd like to talk to you," he said.
"About what?" As if I didn't know.
"You know what baby!"
"We don't need another baby."
"Need it or not, it's coming," Dad said. "So you might as well get used
to the idea."
"We'll talk about it later," Dad said. "In the meantime, scrub up. It's
time for dinner."
"I'm not hungry."
I zipped up my bag, grabbed a jacket and opened my bedroom door. No one
was there. I marched down the hall and found my parents in the kitchen.
"I'm leaving," I announced. "I'm not going to hang around waiting for
another Fudge to get born. Goodbye."
I didn't move. I just stood there, waiting to see what they'd do next.
"Where are you going?" Mom asked. She took four plates out of the
cabinet and handed them to Dad.
"To Jimmy Fargo's," I said, although until that moment I hadn't thought
at all about where I would go.
"They have a one-bedroom apartment," Mom said. "You'd be very crowded."
"Then I'll go to Grandma's. She'll be happy to have me."
"Grandma's in Boston for the week, visiting Aunt Linda."
"So why don't you scrub up and have your dinner, and then you can decide
where to go," Mom said.
I didn't want to admit that I was hungry, but I was. And all those good
smells coming from the pots and pans on the stove were making my mouth
water. So I dropped my Adidas bag and went down the hall to the
Fudge was at the sink. He stood on his stool, lathering his hands with
three inches of suds. "Hello, you must be Bert," he said in his best
Sesame Street voice. "My name is Ernie. Glad to meet you." He
offered me one of his sudsy little hands.
"Roll up your sleeves," I told him. "You're making a mess."
"Mess, mess ... I love to make a mess," he sang.
"We know ... we know," I told him.
I ran my hands under the faucet and dried them on my jeans.
When we got to the table, Fudge arranged himself in his chair. Since he
refuses to sit in his booster seat, he has to kneel so that he can reach
his place at the table. "Pee-tah didn't scrub," he said. "He only
"You little ..." I started to say, but Fudge was already yapping away to
"Hello, I'm Bert. You must be Ernie."
"That's right," my father said, playing along with him. "How are you,
"Well, I'll tell you," Fudge said. "My liver's turning green and my
toenails are falling off."
"Sorry to hear that, Bert," my father said. "Maybe tomorrow will be a
"Yes, maybe," Fudge said.
I shook my head and piled some mashed potatoes on my plate. Then I
drowned them in gravy. "Remember when we took Fudge to Hamburger
Heaven," I said, "and he smeared the mashed potatoes all over the wall?"
"I did that?" Fudge asked, suddenly interested.
"Yes," I told him, "and you dumped a plate of peas on your head too."
My mother started to laugh. "I'd forgotten all about that day."
"Too bad you didn't remember before you decided to have another
baby," I said.
"Baby?" Fudge asked.
My mother and father looked at each other. I got the message. They
hadn't told Fudge the good news yet.
"Yes," Mom said. "We're going to have a baby."
"Tomorrow?" Fudge asked.
"No, not tomorrow," Mom said.
"When?" Fudge asked.
"February." Dad said.
"January, February, March, April, May, June, July ..." Fudge recited.
"Okay ... okay ..." I said. "We all know how smart you are."
"Ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty ..."
"Enough!" I said.
"A, B, C, D, E, F, G, R, B, Y, Z ..."
"Will somebody turn him off?" I said.
Fudge was quiet for a few minutes. Then he said, "What kind of new baby
will it be?"
"Let's hope it's not like you," I said.
"Why not? I was a good baby, wasn't I, Mommy?"
"You were an interesting baby, Fudgie," Mom said.
"See, I was an interesting baby," he said to me.
"And Peter was a sweet baby," Mom said. "He was very quiet."
"Lucky you had me first," I said to Mom, "or you might not have had any
"Was I a quiet baby, too?" Fudge asked.
"I wouldn't say that," Dad said.
"I want to see the baby," Fudge said.
"You can't see it now," Dad said.
"Why not?" Fudge asked.
"Because it's inside me," Mom told him.
Here it comes, I thought, the big question. When I asked
it, I got a book called How Babies Are Made. I wondered what Mom
and Dad would say to Fudge. But Fudge didn't ask. Instead, he banged his
spoon against his plate and howled. "I want to see the baby. I want to
see the baby now!"
"You'll have to wait until February," Dad said, "just like the rest of
"Now now now!" Fudge screamed.
Another five years of this, I thought. Maybe even more. And
who's to say that they aren't going to keep on having babies, one after
the other. "Excuse me," I said, getting up from the table. I went
into the kitchen and grabbed my Adidas bag. Then I stood in the doorway
and called, "Well, I'd better be on my way." I sort of waved good-bye.
"Where is Pee-tah going?" Fudge asked.
"I'm running away," I told him. "But I'll come back to visit. Someday."
"No, Pee-tah ... don't go!" Fudge jumped off his chair and ran to me. He
grabbed my leg and started bawling. "Pee-tah ... Pee-tah ... take me
I tried to shake him off my leg but I couldn't. He can be really strong.
I looked at my mother and father. Then I looked down at Fudge, who gave
me the same look as Turtle when he's begging for a biscuit. "If only I
knew for sure what the baby would be like," I said.
"Take a chance, Peter," Dad said. "The baby won't necessarily be
anything like Fudge."
"But it won't necessarily not be like him either," I answered.
Fudge tugged at my leg. "I want an interesting baby," he said. "Like
I sighed. "If you think it's going to sleep in my room, you're
crazy," I told Mom and Dad.
"The baby will sleep in here," Mom said. "In the dining area."
"Then where will we eat?"
"Oh, we'll think of something," Mom said.
I put my Adidas bag down and tried shaking Fudge off one more time.
"Okay," I said, "I'll stay for now. But when the baby comes, if I don't
like it, I'm leaving."
"Me too," Fudge said. "Sam got a new baby and it smells." He held his
"Who wants dessert?" Dad asked. "It's vanilla pudding."
"I do ... I do ..." Fudge yelped. He let go of me and climbed into his
"Peter?" Dad said.
"Sure, why not?" And I sat down at the table too.
Mom reached over and tousled my hair. This time I let her.
Before the end of the week, Fudge asked the big question. "How did the
baby get inside you, Mommy?" So Mom borrowed my copy of How Babies
Are Made, and she read it to Fudge.
As soon as he had the facts straight, he was telling anybody and
everybody exactly how Mom and Dad had made the baby. He told Henry, our
elevator operator. Henry smiled and said, "That's a mouthful for a small
fry like you."
He told the checker at the supermarket. Her eyes got bigger and bigger
until Mom said, "That's enough, Fudgie."
"But I'm just getting to the good part," Fudge said.
"Peter," Mom said, "it's getting very warm in here. Why don't you take
He saw a pregnant woman on the bus and said, "I know what's growing
inside you, and I know how it got there too." The woman got up and
changed her seat.
He told Grandma. She said to my mother, "Anne, do you think it's wise
for him to know so much? In my days we talked about the stork."
"What's a stork?" Fudge asked.
"It's a big bird," I told him.
"Like Big Bird on Sesame Street?"
"I like birds," Fudge said. "I want to be one when I grow up."
"You can't be a bird," Grandma said.
"Because you're a boy."
"So what?" Fudge said, and he laughed like crazy and turned somersaults
on the floor.
Fudge never stopped talking about his favorite subject. He told his
preschool class, and his teacher was so impressed she phoned and asked
Mom to come to school. The children had a lot of questions for her. So
Mom went to Fudge's class and enjoyed it so much she offered to come to
my class too. I told her, "No thanks!"
I hadn't told anyone she was going to have a baby, except Jimmy Fargo. I
tell him just about everything. And Sheila Tubman knew, because she
lives in our building and could see that Mom was pregnant.
"She's very old to be having a baby, isn't she?" Sheila asked one
"She's thirty-four," I said.
"Sheila opened her mouth. "Oh, she's really old!"
"She's not as old as your mother," I said. I had no idea how old Mrs.
Tubman was, but Sheila's sister, Libby, was thirteen, so I guessed that
Mrs. Tubman was older than Mom.
"But you don't see my mother having a baby, do you?" Sheila
"No ... but ..." I couldn't think of anything else to say. I didn't
understand what she was getting at anyway.
When I went upstairs I asked Mom, "Isn't thirty-four old to be having a
"I don't think so," Mom said. "Why?"
"Grandma had Aunt Linda when she was thirty-eight."
"Oh." So my mother wasn't the oldest woman in the world to be having a
baby. And Sheila didn't know what she was talking about, as usual.
* * *
On February 26, while my fifth grade class was on a trip to the
Metropolitan Museum of Art, my sister was born. Later I found out that
she was born at exactly 2:04 in the afternoon, just as we were in the
Egyptian Room, studying the mummies.
They named her Tamara Roxanne, but for weeks everybody called her The
Baby. "The Baby is crying." "The Baby is hungry." "Shush.... The Baby is
Soon, instead of calling her The Baby, Mom started saying dumb things,
like "How's my little Tootsie-Wootsie?" as if The Baby could answer her.
"Does my little Tootsie-Wootsie need to be changed?" Yes, almost always!
"Does my little Tootsie-Wootsie need a feeding?" Yes, almost always!
And Mom's little Tootsie-Wootsie never slept more than two hours at a
time. Every night I'd wake up to her howls. Turtle, who slept at the
foot of my bed, woke up too. Then he'd howl along with her. A regular
By the time she was one month old, everybody was calling her Tootsie.
Right away I could see that there would be problems. I tried to warn my
mother and father. "When she goes to school with a name like that, the
kids are going to tease her. They'll call her Tootsie Roll. Or worse!"
Mom and Dad just laughed. "Oh Peter, you're so funny."
Only I wasn't being funny at all. I knew what I was talking about. But
there was nothing I could do about it. I had a brother called Fudge. And
now I had a sister called Tootsie. Maybe what my parents really wanted
was a candy factory. I wondered how come I got off so easy.
Tootsie was much smaller than I'd expected, but she was tough. I found
that out when Fudge tried to pull off her toes. "I just wanted to see
what would happen," he explained when Tootsie screamed.
"You must never do that again!" Mom told him. "How would you like
it if Peter tried to pull off your toes?"
I couldn't help laughing at that one.
"Peter knows my toes don't come off," Fudge said.
"Well, neither do Tootsie's!" Mom said.
One afternoon when I came home from school, Tootsie wasn't in her crib.
I figured Mom was feeding her, so I went to her bedroom to say hello.
Mom was lying on her bed with her hands over her eyes. "Hi," I said.
"In her crib, asleep," Mom muttered.
"No, she's not."
Excerpted from "Superfudge" by Judy Blume. Copyright © 2007 by Judy Blume. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.