The Giving Tree

This afternoon I had a quick half-hour to myself. In a bookstore. Now, with books being a complete weakness of mine, this scenario can be nearly as dangerous to my wallet as a solo shopping trip to Target. You know what I’m talking about…

Target is like a casino

Luckily for me I was shopping for a birthday present… for a seven-year-old… so that narrowed my focus a bit. Until I spotted this.

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And I  just had to have it.

Now for the past several weeks, the kids and I have been reading another Silverstein classic:

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Every few nights we’ll read aloud a handful of poems. And it just makes me happy. And it makes my kids happy. And clearly all of that happiness necessitated today’s purchase of The Giving Tree.

I couldn’t wait until bedtime for us to begin reading! With my son on my left, and my daughter on my right, I began to read aloud. About a boy and a tree.

And then the strangest thing happened. I began to cry. Tears started welling in my eyes and a lump formed in my throat. I wasn’t sure if I’d make it through the book.

And the boy loved the tree. And the tree was happy. The tree gave and gave, and loved and loved. And the boy took and took. And he loved. And as the boy grew, the tree remained. Unwavering. He gave everything for the boy. And was happy with nothing more than the boy’s presence.

OH MY GRACIOUS. I was a wreck. But somehow I managed to pull it together to finish the book before tucking my hearts into their beds. First my daughter and then my son. My five-year-old. Who starts kindergarten in just over a week.

As he and I were walking out of my daughter’s room, my son jumped into my arms and said, “Mommy I’m the boy, and you’re the tree, and I’m swinging on your branches.”

As if on cue, I began to swing him around, hugging him tightly as I pretended to be the tree. And as we stepped inside his room, I sat with him on the floor and kissed his cheek before saying, “And the tree loved the boy.”  To which he so sweetly and innocently replied, “And the boy loved the tree.”

It was a moment in time, a few minutes really, that wish I could have captured forever. But as five-year-old boys do, he quickly hopped up from my lap… and started to karate-chop me.

Alas, the moment had passed.  I said, “Whoa! Be nice to the tree.” 

“Oh mommy… you’re the stump now.”

Thought for the day: Read with your kids. Cherish the moments. Mix the old in with the new. Read stories that stretch their imaginations. And while you’re reading, listen to what the words are really saying. Chances are, the story is so much deeper than the print on the page.

Practicing What I Preach: When I bought both Where the Sidewalk Ends and The Giving Tree, I was really buying them for me. To give me an opportunity to transport my kids back to my childhood, one page at a time. To that blue, worn carpet in the elementary school library. To the place where I fell in love with learning. But what I never expected was how different the experience would be for me as an adult. As a parent. Especially with an author like Silverstein, whose words are chocked full of history and context. To a kid, it’s a story about a tree. But to me, tonight, it was a story about me. About you. About them. About life and love. And how quickly it all goes by.

2 thoughts on “The Giving Tree

  1. Haha! I remember being so excited to read that book to Thomas (now14). And I was thinking, I was the tree, he was the dear boy, etc. then , when I got to the end, and the motherly tree was just a stump, I was like, “Wait, I’m a stump?” I wish shel had let the tree volunteer somewhere!

    • I know! In my head I was thinking… “No, Tree, don’t give away your apples! And your branches, and surely not your trunk!” S/he really needed to have set some healthy boundaries. 🙂

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