The Unhappy Weeping Willow Tree ( A story for young girls, 8 to 12 yrs to combat the trend of dissatisfaction with looks, photoshopping, skinny models, and cosmetic surgery

The Unhappy Weeping Willow Tree

A young weeping willow lived on the edge of a riverbank. From her home she could see fields, hedges, a beautiful wood and a mountain.

People and animals passed by her on the riverside track and would notice how her delicate branches dipped and swayed. “How lovely!” they all thought. But the weeping willow was not happy. As she looked about her she was always finding fault with herself and comparing her shape with other trees.

“Oh,” she sighed “I wish I were taller and could reach high into the sky like that Poplar tree over there”, or “How I wish I had a good wide strong trunk like the Oak, I am so skinny and thin.” or “Ah, look at the interesting shape of the branches in the Scots Pine, my branches are so droopy.” And she went on feeling miserable about herself.

One day two girls came by and sat beside her on the riverbank.

“I like it here by the weeping willow,” said one, “You can hide from the world. It’s like a green cave, isn’t it a lovely tree, Sally?”

“Yes,” said the other, “and I can tell you my secret, Mary, which makes me sad. Being beside a weeping willow seems a good place to feel sad.”

“What is your secret?” asked her friend.

The two girls sat beneath the willow tree 4

“ I am worried about how I will look when I grow up, and I’m worried about if the operations I will need will hurt or if they will cost a lot of money.”

“Sally what are you talking about? There’s nothing wrong with you is there? I mean you look fine to me! What operations do you think you will need?”

“Please don’t tell anyone, Mary, promise me! I think my nose is not straight enough and my ears are too big. My auntie has a flat chest and I don’t want to look like her, so I must get something done to make me bigger. And I hate my freckles.”

“Stop, stop!” said Mary. “Everyone is different from everyone else. You shouldn’t want to change yourself and try to be something you are not. That’s not good thinking. Some people do themselves a lot of harm trying to change themselves.  They are never happy with how they are, even when they have changed.”

Sally looked around at the lovely tree they were leaning on. “I wish I were like this tree,” she said. “Then I’d be happy just being me. It’s so lucky just staying put, looking at its reflection in the water. No one teases it about its freckles or its ears or nose. It must be so contented.”

“Oh you’ve been paying attention to those boys have you? You think that what they say matters? Don’t listen to them Sally, they just say anything at all to get attention.”

The girls stood up. Sally stroked the bark of the Willow. Suddenly she felt better. The girls wandered off along the riverbank.

The willow tree gently waved her branches, she felt better too. It made sense to be happy with what she was and to learn to appreciate her finer points instead of envying other trees for what they were. She decided she would be happy to admire others, but not to wish she could look like them, because everyone is made to be different and that’s how it is, and that’s how it should be.

Questions

How did you feel when you heard the story?

Did it remind you of anything in your life?

Why was the weeping willow unhappy?

What did it want to be like?

What was Sally’s secret?

Why did the tree change its ideas about wanting to be different?

 

 

 

 

Good to be me. A story for children 9-11 years old

ERIC at school in Africa

 

Eric walked along the dusty track, a stick in his hand.  He was pushing a ball along in front of him, using the bent and gnarled piece of wood. His
movements were quick and deft. He was in control of the ball. His bare feet moved steadily, avoiding any sharp obstacles along the way. If the ball hit a stone and bounced to one side, he quickly drew it back in front of him, rolling it along the track. He had some hard thinking to do.

Eric’s African life was tough compared to many children in the world. He was eleven years of age and was lucky enough to go to school. Many of the children in his area did not get an education. Eric thought that he was fortunate. He decided to make the most of his life. He was wise for his years.

As he was the eldest boy in his family and his mother and father were both dead, he felt responsible for the care of his brothers and sisters. His grandmother looked after the family, but she could not do everything. The children had to help themselves and each other, or the family would not survive. Luckily they had a piece of ground large enough to grow  food to feed them all, as long as there was rain to water the crops. There was little time for play. Even the small ones had jobs to do to help their grandma prepare their food, or looking after the few animals that they kept.

Eric’s sister, Tete, helped to grind the maize to make mealy meal. This is the porridge that was their main food every day. They could have eggs once a week. The extra eggs were sold to help to pay for Eric’s schooling.

Tete and the twins, who were only six, did all sorts of little jobs for grandma. She wasn’t very strong herself, but she could tell the children what to do and show them how to do it, and somehow the family got by. They were very proud of Eric. He would be the one who would be able to earn money for the family because he was going to school.  His class was held underneath a canopy on a verandah next to the school house. Another class took lessons inside the school. There were fifty children under the canopy, all trying hard to learn to read and write. The teacher was very good. He told them interesting stories and made them laugh. He was also very strict. There were very few books in the school, and hardly any paper and pencils. All the work was done on slates which were scraped with soft stones to make letters or numbers. Then they were wiped with a damp cloth to erase the work.

Eric could read and write better than anybody in his class. He found he was very good with number work too. He had a quick mind. One of the teachers said she  would like Eric to help in the market on a Saturday. She promised to pay him well so that he could help his family to buy clothes.

Eric went home to tell his grandmother what the teacher had asked him to do. Grandmother looked sad. “Who will hoe the ground and plant the maize seeds if you are away all week at school, and on Saturdays too? You know your sisters are not strong enough to lift the hoe. Your teacher does not realise that we must have food before we can think about new clothes.”

Eric was angry and upset. He had been very pleased when the teacher had asked him to work at the market. Now his grandma was refusing to let him go. He needed to have a long think about the situation. He picked up his gnarled old stick and his ball and, keeping it carefully under his control, he went to the river bank.

Eric sat on a log. He could hear the hippos grunting and grumbling in the distance. He picked up a stone and flung it as hard as he could across the water. It bounced sixteen times. That was a record for him. Suddenly his anger melted away. He realised that it was good to be wanted and needed. It was good that he could help his family and there would be time enough for earning money when his brothers and sisters were able to do the kind of work that he had to do now. He loved his family and did not want them to go hungry just because he wanted to work at the market. After all, he was top of the class. When he was old enough he would get a much better job altogether.

Eric walked home as the sun began to set. His bad temper had gone and he felt contented with his life. He decided to apologise to his grandma for being thoughtless and rude and to tell her he loved her for taking care of all of them.

 

QUESTIONS:

 

1.    How did you feel when you heard this story?

2.    Did it remind you of anything in your own life?

3.    What kind of a person do you think Eric was?

4.    How did his brothers and sisters help the family?

5.    In Africa there are many schools like Eric’s. How do you think the teacher would deal with bad behaviour, such as bullying, in a class of 50 pupils?

6.    How did Eric control his temper?

7.    What do you do if you are angry?

8.    Eric was contented with his life. Are you contented with your life?