One light, many lamps

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 6:45 PM


I don't make it a big secret that a lot of the day-to-day drudgery of parenting makes me seriously question my sanity. I spend what feels like the bulk of every day teaching people proper bodily elimination habits, not to eat chalk, and how to communicate without poking each other in the eye.

But once in a while, I get the opportunity to offer the little dears something that really matters, and see it actually hit home.

My children and I are public library devotees. We are there every two weeks, rain or shine, for as much of the knowledge of the ages as we can carry. (Actually, it's about equal parts Junie B. Jones, Harry Potter, and folk tales from all around the world). A few months ago, we happened upon a little Chinese story called The Empty Pot, about a kind, gentle, honest boy named Ping who becomes Emperor. The pictures were so beautiful, and the story so touching, that we read it over and over. Eventually, though, its time was up, and we returned it so another family could discover it.

Tonight, Eve selected a bedtime story from our newest pile of literary treasures. Sanji's seed started off in India, with a poor, honest little boy who has a chance to prove himself worthy to be the next heir to the throne.

Devlin, who was sitting at my feet, apparently concerned only with his Lego "supersonic helicopter", suddenly started to attention, his eyes bright with recognition. "Hey! I know that story! It's The Empty Pot!"

And it was. The names were different, the telling was a little preachy and heavy-handed for my taste, the pictures less magical, but the story was the very same. And I was able to share with my children a lesson that I hold very dear: China, India, or Mesa Arizona, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or atheist, we treasure the same values. We want the same things. We love our children. We search for happiness. We journey on this earth together, to learn from each other, to discover the wonders that unfold when we open ourselves to them.

And where did this delightful story really come from? Does it matter? Who had it first? Can any of us claim the wisdom we gain as truly our own? Which of us has the truth? Who has the most truth? The more I learn about my own beliefs, and about the beliefs of others, the more I see how much we borrow from each other, how much we share, how sad and silly it is to divide ourselves and try to compartmentalize something that doesn't belong to any one of us.

It is my great joy to learn everything I can, from wherever it is available. I love my life right now, in all its wonderful banality, and I look forward to the time when my motherly teaching can include more about humanities and philosophy, and less about what is and is not appropriate to flush down the toilet.

But for today, I'm satisfied that Devlin recognized something of himself in Sanji, and in Ping.

It really is a small, small world.

Comments (6)

This was exactly the lesson I was hoping you would learn from hosting our many exchange students. The ties that bind us are strong if we will just realize they are there. We really all want the same things.
Thank you for taking such loving care of your little brood, and sharing this important life lesson with them.
Touching post. Thanks Lovie.

Great insight.

that post made me cry. {emotional much?}


Rachel, I am sure one day your kids will realize how much you rock, if they haven't already.

The only difference between you and I is that 1. none of my kids remember the Empty Pot though we read it(owned it for years) and is one of my favorites and 2. lots of water has gone under that bridge of my mothering skills and 3. you wrote about it as a testimony that it happened in your life and in the lives of you children. Thanks for the reminder. Those were and are still good times. Nice one Rachel.

I think that is just the message we got from the exchange students, dad. I know there are wonderful people all over the world and in many different religions, because I've lived with them. They are a part of my family.

This is very sweet, Rachel. I know you have a positive influence on your children beyond what you may now realize. You've already instilled in them a taste for classical music and books, service, and good nutrition and exercise. These are things I have seen them mimic you doing or request just when I've been there. The cloth diapering washing video of Eve as a toddler is a perfect example. They pick up on behavior and subtleties more than we realize. I see it already in the 3-year-old I've nannied for only one month, for 20 little hours a week. The work of a mother is eternally reaching and they have an excellent one in you.