I never really got into Winnie the Pooh as a child, though we always called my dad Eeyore because they were so much alike. I wasn’t one of the Moms who got Pooh crazed with their new babies either as there were always newer themes out and Winnie the Pooh seemed so dated. Then one day we started reading stories from the Disney Winnie the Pooh Storybook Collection because we ran out of the other Disney Collections and everything kind of changed for me. During the same period this meme came across my Facebook Page and I realized how much we could all learn from the characters in The Hundred-Acre Woods.
Eeyore isn’t the only different sort of character in Winnie-the-Pooh. Adorable little Pooh is slow-witted and naive; Rabbit suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder and is quite the narcissist; Tigger is seriously ADHD and could rival Rabbit’s narcissism and Piglet is a needy Hypochondriac. Despite all of these quirks, differences or mental deficits (if you see them that way) each character also holds admirable qualities that make them all the best of friends: Pooh with his big heart, Rabbit with his sincerity, Tigger with his consistent optimism and energy and little Piglet with his gentle kindness. There is something to be said about each one accepting the other as they are and no one knows this better than poor Rabbit.
Tonight’s bedtime story was Friendly Bothers, where ever neat and tidy Rabbit gets fed up with Tigger and Pooh. He spends all day making his garden and home perfect; then everyday Pooh and Tigger stop by and mess it up without meaning to. Tigger in his sheer excitement to see Rabbit always bounces things out of the garden or smashes them and Pooh looking for honey tends to knock things over. Rabbit gets so bothered by it that he screams at them to GET OUT! and you see both of them slowly sulking off into the woods.
Since I’m a little new to Winnie the Pooh stories, I was surprised that they had actually shown serious frustration. I generally don’t see characters screaming at others without it being a story about how they were a bad person, did something wrong or were a bully. This was Rabbit though, the Winnie-the-Pooh Rabbit! So when Kanga and Roo happened to stop by and he (thinking it was Pooh and Tigger) screamed at them, it got pretty interesting.
Little Roo looked sad. “Does that mean Tigger and Pooh aren’t your friends anymore?” he asked.
Rabbit shrugged. “Never thought of it that way.”
“But you told them to get out and not come back,” Roo said. “That doesn’t sound very friendly.” He sighed. “I’d sure miss Tigger and Pooh if they weren’t my friends anymore.”
Kanga and Roo talk to Rabbit about Tigger and Pooh’s better qualities, like how Tigger is always there to play when you need a friend and how Pooh has the warmest heart. At first Rabbit’s reaction is “Bah!” he doesn’t know if he can be patient with them anymore, but Kanga shows him that he doesn’t get upset when the wind blows the leaves into his garden or when he has to water it by getting dozens of pails of water. That inwardly he is very patient and that he should try to be a little more patient with them.
So the next day Pooh and Tigger come over to see if Rabbit is still mad at them and of course they mess things up again, but this time Rabbit remembers what Kanga said and decides to have more patience with them because it was a small price to pay for their friendship.
Not once in the story did it say that Rabbit was a big meanie because he yelled, instead Rabbit learned that he would rather have his friends bother him than not have his friends at all. Additionally, Pooh and Tigger never demanded Rabbit apologize for being mean nor thought of him as a bully; they accepted him as being just Rabbit and understood why he may have been upset and decided to let their friend have some space, come back the next day to see if it was okay and help him put his garden back together.
This one story taught so many things, more than any story that just says “yelling is bad and anyone who does it is mean and a bully”. It acknowledges that sometimes people get frustrated, even our best friends and that’s okay. That accepting that and each other, is important. Just as important as knowing that holding onto that frustration isn’t worth losing the people you love. That although we may mess up, time and time again, that it’s okay as long as we try to do better.
There are many stories like this in the Winnie the Pooh Collection. Stories where the characters face actual concerns, like feeling small and insignificant or feeling alone and each of the characters help the other while in turn learning something themselves. Though they have their differences they never let them define them, just as Piglet may always be afraid but he does his best to have courage and be brave when he must. No one ever expects their friends to change, nor asks them to. They don’t pin-point out what is wrong with them or have them seek mental help. They are who they are, just as they and one page after another shares how that is the reason they are the best of friends.
I think we could all learn from their stories, not just our children. Too many of us are pointing fingers at each other’s differences without the understanding that they are a part of who we are. There are those that expect everyone to always agree with them, to always be as they are “supposed” to be instead of seeing the beauty in a differing opinion and that each of us have our own way of ‘being’. We fail to accept that not everyone is happy, socially inclined, smart, optimistic, energetic or understanding all the time. Just like Eeyore can smile from time to time, Pooh can have a great idea every once in awhile, Tigger can feel what it means to be sad at times or Rabbit can be patient with his friends; we have our moments.
No one in The Hundred-Acre Woods ever demands for others to accept them nor expects to be treated special for their differences. Instead, each character accepts the other wholeheartedly and equally. They in turn learn about themselves and others, they grow and they understand, but most importantly they have patience.
I now understand how Winnie-the-Pooh has been around for so long and the miraculous way that people have attributed this story to life on varied levels. Pooh will always have a place in our home and I am ever so thankful that my son has a chance to grow up with characters who know the true meaning of compassion towards each other.