Can We Learn from a Nursery Rhyme? A Lesson for The Little Red Hen
Over yonder and down in the valley was a beautiful apple orchard and nestled in one corner was a corral for the farm animals including a cat, a dog, a goat, and a little red hen who has taken it upon herself to supervise the other animals, and most often, the three of them were compliant but on this day, they resisted her overture.
On this lovely balmy spring day, as she is wondering about looking for something to do, the little red hen found wheat seeds and got a brilliant idea! If the seeds were planted, they would provide wheat to bake the most delicious bread. But farming is hard work and she felt convinced that she could not succeed alone, so she elicited the help of the other barnyard animals.
She explained the necessary steps for baking bread: “We have to plant the seeds, water them to keep them healthy, pull the weeds, once the wheat is ready to be harvested, we must cut the wheat, then we must haul the wheat to the mill to be ground into flour and haul it back to the barnyard, and then we must prepare and bake the bread. Who will help me?”
Each animal responds rather haughtily, “Not I!” “Not I!” “Not I!”
So, the little red completes each task alone, while the cat lazes in the sun, the dog rolls in the grass, and the goat paws through the leftovers from lunch, hoping to find a delicious morsel. The days pass into weeks, the weeks into a few months and all the tasks are now completed. While the bread is baking, the aroma is so tantalizing that it summons the barnyard animals, following the scent right to the little red hen’s oven. Eagerly they wait for their piece of bread.
The little red hen asks, “Who will help me eat the bread?”
“I will!” “I will!” “I will!” trumpeted her friends.
The little red hen has other plans for the bread that she has prepared all by herself.
“Not you! Not you! Not you! I’m eating it all myself” and she did.
A lesson for the little red hen: Next time you ask for help, make the request feel like fun, like a party, and maybe next time there will be a resounding, “I will!”
Self-care Ritual - When we ask for help, we need to be aware of the strengths and skills of the family members and friends we are asking, first asking ourselves, can they help us? Do they know how to help us? Have we phrased our needs clearly? When the first little barnyard friend said, “Not I” the others followed in unison so maybe asking each person separately would have found the desired answer, “I will.”
Many years ago, neighbors of ours were moving to a bigger house a few blocks away. Wanting to save the enormous expense and hassle of hiring a moving company, they asked the neighbors to help, explaining that with a few boxes in our cars, driving a few blocks, the move would go quickly, and everything would be done. Helping someone move is no easy task, but they transformed the entire day into a party with pizza, soft drinks, cookies and so festive, it felt like a celebration and we had a wonderful day. Making even the most mundane things into a celebration is so upbeat. Andy Warhol knows this truth too when he said, “one’s company, two’s a crowd, and three’s a party.”