Together or Apart
As is probably true for many families, our three year old son, Liam, is fascinated and fixated on reading every single Winnie the Pooh story he can get his hands on. The characters of Christopher Robin’s imagination have captured our son and so, almost every night, we find ourselves joining in the Hundred Acre Woods merriment, learning along with the lovable characters that so many of us knew and loved as children.
Maybe this seems to be a weird selection for a ‘justice-oriented’ book, what with all of the numerous others that champion diversity and equality concerns. However, there is one story that we have been reading lately which has caused me to pause each time because the lesson goes to the heart of something that my husband and I work very hard on as we parent our son.
In the short story, The Sweetest of Friends, Pooh and Piglet revel in their special, close friendship. They share their days eating honey and exploring the forest while sharing joy and contentment in being with one another. Until, one day, without even noticing, Piglet followed a beautiful butterfly and Pooh followed a buzzing bee towards a honeycomb. Neither Piglet nor Pooh intended to leave one another’s side; in fact, both believe that their friend is right behind them, sure to follow them wherever they go. When both discover that they are alone, it is with heavy hearts that they seek out the other unsure of why this has happened. Finally, Pooh discovers Piglet, despondent on a wooden log.
While I do not desire to think about the days ahead where my son’s increased independence means that we will be separated more and more, I know it will happen. Each day, he learns and explores with excitement about all that the world has to offer. And this is what both my husband and I believe is so important to cultivate in our children—a passionate sense to engage the world! But with that, following your passions or heart’s desire, like Piglet’s butterfly or Pooh’s honey, means that sometimes you part ways with those you love dearly. And separation is at the heart of so many justice issues—whether its immigration or poverty or someone responding to the call of volunteering in a different city or country. Jesus’ own following of his vocation took him away from his mother and known community, presumably an area where he would have preferred to be.
Together or apart, we are still the best of friends. And so I pray my son takes that with him as he continues to grow up and follows his passions—together or apart, we are here to love him and support him—and that the fear of separation won’t keep him from living out the vocation to which God is calling him.
Carrie Nantais, M.Div., MA, currently lives in Detroit, MI with her husband, David, and two sons, Liam (age 6) and Theo (age 3). She is completing her PhD in Clinical Psychology in May, 2017. Her areas of interest include: integration of spirituality and psychology, forgiveness, trauma and resiliency and women’s health issues. When she takes care of herself, she enjoys yoga, being creative, singing loudly in the car and laughing with her family.
I believe there are lessons in many children’s stories. There are meanings behind even the silliest Dr. Seuss rhymes and Oh, Oh, The Places You’ll Go has been gifted to children of all ages and walks of life. I think that the Winnie the Pooh stories can be interpreted to fit several of your topics; Leadership (Owl, Christopher Robin), Faith (faith in friendship, family and togetherness) and the overall Education aspect of reading. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
Thanks for your reflections! Yes, you’re right — children’s stories have moments of learning for all ages. One of the things I love about Winnie the Pooh is that the characters are often seen as ‘flawed’ — from Rabbit’s temper to Tigger’s lack of consideration for bouncing into everyone to Owl’s high-minded nature. But don’t we all have a flaw? And don’t we all still want to be loved and accepted by our friends? Dr. Seuss rhymes and Oh, The Places You’ll Go are fabulous ideas. ISN is probably going to start a ‘list’ so I’ll make sure they add these to it.