First grade started today for our younger son. His first-day-of-school anxiety made his behavior oscillate between quiet and silly, and he didn’t want me to leave. As a last resort, he selected a book for me to read, guaranteeing I would stay a bit longer.
In Why Can’t I Fly? by Rita Golden Gelman, Minnie the Monkey asks one flying friend after another why she can’t fly. One tells her that she needs to take off her boots. Another helps her to apply feathers. Her ladybug friend suggests that she needs dots.
As I read this, I thought of all the well-meaning people who try to help me to fly / heal. I am totally open to what seems to work for them and, like Minnie the Monkey, sincerely try every single thing I can. Also like Minnie the Monkey, I feel like it will work and then I flop.
Like most children’s books, this book moves repetitively and slowly. As I read aloud, my mind raced to predict the ending. I assumed that Minnie would be content being a climbing monkey or the book would provide some other zen ending about loving your own life, gifts and limitations.
But no. In the end, as her friends all watched Minnie about to flop yet again, they each grabbed the corner of what looked like a big sheet, caught her mid-fall, then flew through the air carrying Minnie with them.
Suddenly, I didn’t relate to all of Minnie’s failed attempts but instead realized how I, too, am being carried by friends who seem to be able to magically do what I cannot.
I almost had tears. But it was the first day of school and we really didn’t need that.
Thank you for flying so beautifully. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. And thank you for carrying me. It enables me to feel like I can fly.
And thank you to the amazing first grade teachers and friends: At pick-up time, our little boy enthusiastically declared, “First grade is AWESOME!”