When Stories Move Us

Nothing teaches big lessons quite like books…
 
I was quizzing Cami (my almost 8-year-old) with her reading comprehension questions, to make sure she read the chapters she was supposed to read on her own. She was answering all of the questions with confidence at first.
“What happened to Toad’s list?” (Answer: “It blew away, and he didn’t know whether to go chase it because ‘running’ wasn’t on his list.”)
“Why did Frog sing to his seeds?” (Answer: “He thought they were too scared to come out of the ground, so he tried to make them more comfortable.”) 🙂
 
Cami and I giggled several times, and then I asked her the last question:
 
“Toad had a dream that he was the BEST piano-player and the BEST tight-rope walker and the BEST dancer in the world…and what happened to Frog?”
 
Suddenly, my little girl got a funny look on her face, and she used her Baby Voice to say, “Well…he got smaller…”  (Cami’s Baby Voice comes out when she’s feeling vulnerable and doesn’t know how to put it into words.) “This is what I tried to talk to you about,” she said, still sheepish. “You were on the phone and told me to wait, but then I forgot.”
 
Me: “Oh, you had a question about your story? Did you have trouble understanding Toad’s dream?”
 
Cami: (*shy smile) “Yeah…”
 
So I re-read the story outloud to her, and this is what it said:
 
Toad was asleep, and he was having a dream. He was on a stage, and he was wearing a costume. Toad looked out into the dark. Frog was sitting in the theater. A strange voice from far away said, “PRESENTING THE GREATEST TOAD IN ALL THE WORLD!!!”

Toad took a deep bow. Frog looked smaller as he shouted, “Hooray for Toad!”

“TOAD WILL NOW PLAY THE PIANO VERY WELL,” said the strange voice. Toad played the piano, and he did not miss a note.

“Frog!” cried Toad, “Can you play the piano like this?”

“No,” said Frog. It seemed to Toad that Frog looked even smaller.

“TOAD WILL NOW WALK ON A HIGH WIRE, AND HE WILL NOT FALL DOWN,” said the voice.

“Frog,” cried Toad, “can you do tricks like this?”


“No,” peeped Frog, who looked very, very small.
“TOAD WILL NOW DANCE, AND HE WILL BE WONDERFUL,” said the voice.
“Frog, can you be as wonderful as this?” said Toad as he danced all over the stage.
There was no answer. Toad looked out into the theater. Frog was so small that he could not be seen or heard.

“Frog,” said Toad, “where are you?” There was still no answer. “Frog, what have I done?” cried Toad.

Then the voice said, “THE GREATEST TOAD WILL NOW–”
“Shut up!” screamed Toad. “Frog, Frog, where have you gone?” Toad was spinning in the dark. “Come back, Frog,” he shouted. “I will be lonely!”

“I am right here,” said Frog. Frog was standing near Toad’s bed. “Wake up, Toad,” he said.
“Frog, is that really you?” said Toad.
“Of course it is me,” said Frog.
“And are you your own right size?” asked Toad.
“Yes, I think so,” said Frog.
Toad looked at the sunshine coming through the window. “Frog,” he said, “I am so glad that you came over.”

“I always do,” said Frog.
Then Frog and Toad ate a big breakfast. And after that they spent a fine, long day together.
Sheesh!
Punch both of us in the gut, why don’t ya?! How about a little warning next time, Arnold Lobel?   #Trigger
I asked Cami, “Did this story make you cry?”
She replied, “No….but maybe I wanted to a little.”
I smiled and told her I understood completely. And then we had a great conversation about how pride affects our relationships with friends.  When we make it all about me-me-me, pretty soon “me” is all there will be.
This morning, I’m just thinking about the awesome power of words and stories, and it makes me want to praise the Creator.
Thank you, God, for the gift of words, to teach and encourage each other.  And thank you for these tender-hearted little souls you’ve given me the chance to guide.  They’re getting it, Lord! The seeds of Truth are taking root in my babies!
All glory be yours-yours-yours.

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