Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Carrot Seed

by Ruth Krauss

This 1945 children's classic came to mind in the other day and I was pleased to find it safely nestled on the shelf.  Some stories have the capacity to come alive in different ways and this is one of them - a simple story about waiting and the simple concept of allowing due process.

Yet even the simplest ambition or aspiration becomes really hard when it involves mental endurance and the fine art of preserving relationships with close ones who do not sign up to wait with you [and they have every right not to].  It also illustrates the importance of keeping busy while staying the course, with actions that promote the cause that is close to the heart . Often, worthy pursuits are sabotaged by counter-productive actions that bring them to premature end.

The little boy in the story believed that his carrot seed would yield a carrot, dug his heels in to guard the seed, and tactfully stood his ground against all disparaging influences. Eventually, he was rewarded for what he believed. Drawing on the theory of Erik Eriksen - the father of psychosocial development - if he had aborted his endeavour, the disappointment would surely bring upon him a sense of inferiority children his age are so susceptible to. He would not have discovered the fruit of his diligence.

The story has only 101 words [I counted] - some pages only four words - and throughout, the little boy uttered not a word.  From the time I was 10, my father made me memorize and recite books to him during the school holidays [maybe a way to keep me from pestering him to take me out].  I hated the process but liked the sense of achievement after my turn was over [and I was liberated from this imposition on my idyllic existence].  In retrospect, he imbued in  me a propensity for hard work.  The Carrot Seed would have been such an easy assignment, but no he never gave it to me that easy!  By contrast, this short review already has 334 words.

Where you can get it: Try the better children's bookstores or Kinokuniya [It's still in print]
Level of impact: Refreshing reminder and illustration of faith and attitude