The Giving Tree
A few weeks ago, I read "The Giving Tree" to my boys. For those unfamiliar with the book, here's a brief synopsis:
Boy loves Tree. Tree loves Boy. They play. Boy grows. Boy takes apples, branches and and trunk from Tree. But Tree is happy to give, because she loves Boy and wants him to be happy. Finally, old Boy comes and just wants to sit on Tree's stump. And the Tree was happy.
When I read it to the boys, Spiderman (7) was particularly moved by the story. It made him sad. So I was surprised when he asked me to read it to him again tonight. I read it as he cuddled up to me (Hulk was already asleep). He started to get sad when the boy started taking things from the tree. By the end, there were tears running down his face.
I asked him if he liked the book. He said, though his tears, that he did.
"Even though it makes you sad?" I asked.
"It makes me happy, too," he sniffed.
"Oh, kind of like the tree, huh? The tree was sad, but also happy," I (brilliantly) connected.
We went on to have a conversation about what it means to be a good friend. Real friends give and share and make each other happy. Real friends shouldn't take and take and make the other person sad.
Spiderman was still crying, so I kept going. I told him that his dad and I loved him like the tree loved the boy. I told him we'd give everything we had to make him happy. He was STILL crying, so I said, "I'd even give up my nose feeling good to make you happy." Then I punched myself in the nose. (Not really. Not hard, at least.) But I made the appropriate sounds and he laughed. Then I "poked" myself in the eye and he laughed harder. We said a quick prayer and I left him a little sad but mostly happy.
Sometimes I worry about my Spiderman. I worry that's he's too emotional, that he's not on the right reading level, that he's too obsessed with winning and being in charge. But if he wants to read a book that makes him sad and happy.............somewhere along the way, I may have done something right.