December 16, 2011

lessons learned from children's lit

A couple of weeks ago I worried five pounds off my body.

While the weight loss was satisfying (although not a method I'd recommend), the worrying was wearying.  Confessing my sin began the grace process of being cleansed from it, and along the way, my gracious God sent me a book to help me see myself a little more clearly.

Understood Betsy, by Dorothy Canfield, is the story of a nine-year-old orphan girl raised by a spinster aunt whose worrying makes mine look meager.  Merely by worrying aloud about her niece's poor appetite, the dangers of doggies one meets on the streets, the frights certain to be found in the schoolyard, the aunt managed to create a coddled, fearful, weak child.

A few turns of events later, the poor child finds herself out from under the protective wing of her aunt and transferred to the libertarian care of another set of relatives (of whom she has heard horror stories from the cradle upwards).

Thrust into the confident bosom of a family uneducated about her fears and inabilities, the orphan girl is unsurpassingly astonished to discover that she is capable of remarkable feats:  caring for a kitten, dressing herself, rising without being called, walking alone to school, helping with household chores, and even .... thinking for herself!!

As I read the chapters aloud to my own little flock, it's gratifying to watch the orphan girl unfurl her wings and learn to fly.  I see my cautiousness in their upbringing from a new angle, and am determined to change.

It's not meant (I suppose) to be a manual on childrearing ... but Understood Betsy is challenging me to let go of my worries and quit hovering, to let my children begin to soar.

The best books always do leave us standing taller.


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