Sunday, February 5, 2012

Walking Tiptoed

Yesterday Cat at triggered a memory of a story I read as a small child, and that although I had forgotten it or where it came from, its name had floated up in my mind intermittently ever since.
"The Thing that Walked Tiptoe" came from a book called "The Dawn Shops": such a magical title. Could you buy "sunrise" in such a shop? Obviously it would have been full of mysterious and magical wares.
The story - you can google it - is of an elfin "thing" who yearns to be and play with real children.   It practises trying to walk on the ground - its kind walks above it - and eventually manages to walk on tiptoe.  Its family makes it a dress, and a hat to cover its long ears, and it confidently sets off.
Shockingly, a group of children jeer at and reject it, but it finds a lone child in a meadow, with whom it plays happily all day.  However, at the day's end, the child reveals that it has known all along that it is not another real child:  its ears poke through its hat and it walks on tiptoe.
Saddened that all the work and effort went for naught, the thing flees to home.  It doesn't see the positives of the child enjoying playing with it while also accepting its true nature.
A sad little story.  But what a parable.  Hiding or disguising your unique qualities in order to try to fit in.  Not an uncommon story.
Of course I didn't see that when I was a child.
But perhaps my subconscious did, and that's why the story lingered there while my memory deleted it.
Sometimes among my students I have young ones who are easily distracted.  Among these are some whose distraction consists of constantly watching other children.  I have sensed - and, I might be wrong - that they were appraising and trying to learn how these others were so easily being average children.   Is that lucid?
I used to work with individual children across quite a wide geographic area.  Thousands of children, in total. It seemed to me then that the eyes of most  5 year olds were completely open and trusting:  but, by six, an almost imperceptible shadow of wariness was there.  Losing their self -  acceptance?  Learning to stretch their toes to the ground and hide their long ears under a hat?  I wonder.

They eyes of some monkeys, like the one above, are unbearably sad.