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?

A story about ‘Changes’ for kids of 9-10yrs (Dotty has to leave her home)

A story about “Changes” (SEAL topic) illustrating the value of LOVE (6mins)

Dotty the Dalmation has to leave her home

Everyone calls me Dotty, but actually I am ‘Miranda Saint Edmunds the Second’.  I am a Dalmatian.  I come from a long line of famous dogs.  I am sure you know my breed; we are white, spotted all over with black dots.  We are considered to be very pretty and a little stupid – hard to train – you know the sort of thing; we don’t like to ‘fetch’ or to ‘sit’.  We just like to do our own thing.

When I was born, my owners had plenty of money.  The husband worked in the city, in ‘The Bank’, and the wife had no job as such.  She bred us Dalmatians and spent of lot of time walking us on Hampstead Heath.  She had lots of friends who were all ‘doggy’ people.  They used to arrive in their big ‘four by four’ vehicles, usually with at least two dogs for us to play with.  My brothers and sisters all disappeared one by one usually in one of the big cars that arrived.  My mother and I were the ones that our owners wanted to keep. They were very fond of us.  We made them laugh and they never tired of telling stories about us to their ‘doggy’ friends.

One day the husband returned home looking very pale and worried.  I might not be very clever but I knew I should not jump up to greet him that day.  He didn’t even look at me.  He came in and collapsed on the sofa, his head in his hands.  I lay quietly and waited. When his wife came into the room she took one look at him and went white. “Has it happened?” she asked. He nodded his head.  They both sat on the sofa and wept.

The next thing I remember was men arriving in a big van and taking all their expensive furniture away.  Soon the house was empty.  A ‘For Sale’ sign went up outside the front gate.  My owners put us into a van with wire mesh on the windows.  They patted us sadly and the wife said: “Be good dogs, you’ll be all right.  Someone nice will find you.” We didn’t understand why we were being sent away.  We knew our owners loved us.  We felt very sad.  We didn’t wag our tails, but barked anxiously until we were too tired to bark.

We were taken to a long building.  Inside it were rows of cages.  It was cold and smelly.  There were lots of dogs, one or two in each cage.  Many were barking.  We were afraid.  Some dogs lay looking sad or asleep at the backs of their cages.  We were put into a cage together, my mother and I.  I sat very close to her.

Now you may not think that dogs talk to each other but believe me, they do.  My mother was a dog of few words, but when she did speak she was always wise.  She said to me: “Someone new is going to come along and choose you, or me.  We will go to different families.  You must do your best, keep cheerful, and don’t be sad and miserable.  Changes are difficult, but they are easier if you do the right thing. The right thing is to show your owner that you are willing to love them and to be a good pet for them, then you will be happy and so will they.”

I had been feeling sad, missing our old owners and thinking I could never love anyone else, nor be happy in a different home, but I saw that my mum was right. Sure enough, when a family chose me, I wagged my tail and made an effort to be happy.  There were children in the family and I could tell they were not used to dogs.  I had to be very patient with them, though sometimes I felt like biting them.  When they pulled my tail I would just growl a little and their mother would tell them not to do it.

Dotty the Dalmation

Dotty gets used to her new owners

My new house was quite small and instead of having my own room I just had a basket in the living room, but I made the best of it.  I didn’t sulk and whine.  I remembered what my mum had said, and I felt proud of myself that I had remembered.  The best bit was when my new owner said: “She’s not ‘Dotty’ at all, except to look at.  She’s a very clever Dalmatian!”

Questions

1. What would you call this story?

2. Does it remind you of anything in your life?

3. What do you think might have happened to Dotty’s first owners to make them send Dotty away?

4. Sometimes difficult things happen in our lives and we have to find ways to deal with them.

Put a tick against the best things to do when we are in difficulty, and put a cross against those ways of behaving which are not helpful to anyone:

Screaming and shouting

Looking for someone to blame

Talking to someone you trust about how you feel

Sulking and not speaking to anyone

Letting yourself cry a bit and getting over it

Hitting or hurting other people

Taking it out on your family or friends

Making the best of it

Finding good ways of looking at it

Which of these did Dotty do?  She was only a dog.  Think how much more a person could do…..