Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Ugly Duckling

Last night, since David was out of town, I decided I needed to get the kids to bed early before American Idol so they could get a good night's sleep. I told Sawyer he could pick a book to read.

He chose The Ugly Duckling. We've never read it before, but for some reason he knew that's what the book was called. I'd like to think he, you know, read the title, but he must've heard me mention that book before. Either that, or he's a GENIUS!

So we read the book, omitting the part about the hunters shooting and killing the geese. Can you imagine stuff like that in a children's book written today? Like Pinkalicious reaches for her 23rd pink cupcake and BLAM she gets her fingers shot off by a 9mm.

I'm sure you all know the story, but to sum up, the "duckling" is bigger and uglier than all the other ducks. He gets picked on, pecked, yelled at, and even his own mother tells him she wishes he'd live somewhere else (I guess I will have to hand over my Mom of the Year award to her).

He flies away, and for a time lives in a shed with an old lady and a nasty cat and hen. Then he leaves and spends his first winter alone. He sees swans for the first time and has a certain connection with them as he watches them fly away.

At one point, the ice freezes around his feet and he is basically dead, but a farmer saves him and brings him home - where the kids chase him and the wife throws a poker at him. Good times!

Then spring comes, and the swans return, and the poor ugly duckling realizes he is, in fact a beautiful swan. Sniffle, sniffle!

Sawyer really seemed into the story. So we had a little talk about how sometimes kids are different but you shouldn't pick on them because remember how sad the ugly duckling was?

There's a kid in his preschool class, J, who clearly has some social issues. He doesn't quite understand boundaries and I know he causes a lot of problems in the class (along with some other unpleasant little people, but that's another post). When J got dropped off the other day, he was excitedly telling the teacher something. I heard this from three other boys:

"We don't care what he has to say."
"Don't let J play with us."
"We don't want him over here."

Nice, huh? These kids are FOUR!

Anyway, Sawyer told me that J has been knocking down the sand "volcanoes" that Sawyer and another little boy, L, like to build. So I said, "Maybe instead of yelling at J, maybe you could ask him to play with you. Maybe he just doesn't know how to say he wants to play."

I could tell that Sawyer was really processing this info.

Today, when I picked him up, he told me that J was knocking down the sand volcanoes. So Sawyer said he and L told him to stop - and then asked if he'd like to play with them instead!

I was SO PROUD! Because my little boy learned something about trying to be a good human being.

Thing is, J didn't stop knocking it down. So I had to explain that trying to be a good friend was the most important thing, and that it doesn't always work out.

Still, a good Mommy Moment for me.

And something to remember next time Sawyer's being a complete a-hole to his sister.

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