When You’re Your Daughter’s Student
One night, six years ago, as I begin to read a bedtime story to my then six-year-old daughter, she stops me and says –“Dad, why don’t you tell me a story instead of reading it?”
I set the book aside and my mind is racing to my childhood experiences — the fox and the crow story springs to mind.
I like the idea of a fable, it has a moral. I tuck my daughter in bed, sit beside her and let the thoughts flow.
A crow notices a grandma making tasty doughnuts. [With my hand gestures complementing the narrative in the fading nightlight,] the crow flies to a tree after getting a doughnut from grandma.
Then, a sly fox enters the scene, spots the doughnut in crow’s mouth and comes up with a plan to steal it.
“Hey crow, everybody tells me that you have a beautiful voice, can you sing for me?”
The excited crow opens her mouth to caw. I continue, matching my daughter’s wide-eyed gaze. As the crow caws, the doughnut falls and the fox takes off with it. I pause and then add, in a slow, subdued voice — never get swayed by flattery. My daughter dozes off after thanking me for the story- I am thrilled with the personal connection, the animated tale is better received than any read from a book.
As my joy subsides, I think about the parallels between how we “handle” situations in real life — situations like the one in the tale, hidden agendas and crafty conversations.
In that context, the story shares what the crow should not do, but what about the actions the crow could do?
I broached this story again the next evening with my daughter and egged her for alternative endings. Initially she said, as expected, calling out the fox.
When I prodded her and said that the crow would still lose the snack. She thought for a moment and said, “I would hold the doughnut on my feet” — I felt like a happy coach.
Then she added, “I would ask the fox if he is hungry and if he says yes, I will give him the doughnut.”
A little perplexed, I asked, what about your share? I will go back to grandma to get another one. With that, she turned around and started to play with her little sister.
I was stumped. Nobody said there was only one doughnut.
And my mom’s words came gushing back. Focus on what is of great value to others but less cost to you. I always heard it, that day, I felt it.
The cost of the doughnut for her was lower than what I had perceived. Her fertile mind was able to bring out her essence of giving much better than any of the alternatives I had.
Overall, I wanted to share with my daughter, through the twist in the tale, wisdom from my experience to equip her to handle the real world. In return, she led me to the magic of young minds, uncluttered by constraints — assumed or real. I want to believe we learned from each other, the reality is that I became wiser through this process- experiencing a true giver in every sense of the word.
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