Popple and the Golden Jelly Spoon (A fairy story for little ones)

Popple and the Golden Jelly Spoon

pig-photo

This is a story about Popple and the fairies. Popple is a pig with wings. He lives with his mum in a sty at Blackberry Farm. His mum isn’t sure how he came to have wings as she doesn’t have any and neither does his dad. She wondered if the fairy folk had anything to do with it. He kept his wings folded up on his back in the daytime. Nobody really noticed them. They just thought he had rather a baggy jumper on. At night when everyone was asleep Popple would shake out his wings and go for a lovely fly with his fairy friends.

One day fairy Juniper said it was her birthday and she wanted to do something special to celebrate. She invited Popple to a swimming party at the fairy pool. Lots of fairies would be there but Popple would be the only pig. He said he didn’t mind.

Popple and Juniper flew off out of Popple’s bed-sty window to fairyland. It was dark in Pigland but it was bright as day in fairyland. At the pool everyone was lying in the warm moonlight, moonbathing. The light was silvery, not yellow like sunlight. All the fairies had shimmery swimming costumes. Popple was embarrassed because he didn’t have a swimming costume and he started to cry. Juniper said that pigs didn’t wear swimming costumes, only fairies and people did, and he mustn’t get upset.

Popple soon cheered up when he discovered that his wings made a lovely boat for the fairies to sit on in the water. He floated around while fairies floated on and off his boat wings. Suddenly there was a plop and a loud wail. One of the fairies’ children was crying out. He had dropped his golden jelly spoon into the water and it had disappeared. Everyone swam to the edge of the pool to think about what to do. None of the fairies could swim underwater, and Popple had never tried.

“Boo-hoo, my golden jelly-spoon ‘s gone!” wailed little Fig.

“I told you not to take it into the pool with you.” said his mum.

Then Popple had an idea. He would see if he could walk along the bottom of the pool and find the spoon with his trotters.

He tried hard to sink his legs to the bottom, but his wings kept floating out sideways, keeping his feet well away from the bottom of the pool.

“What we need is some string,” said Popple.

One of the fairies’ mums had a ball of knitting wool. “Will this do?” she asked.

Popple got the fairies to wind the wool round and round his body to hold his wings down tightly. They were not very good at tying knots, but at last it was done. Then Popple tiptoed into the water. He took a big breath and dived down into the pool. There on the bottom he saw the jelly spoon. He picked it up in his mouth and swam to the surface again. Everyone cheered.

pig-photo

Popple returned the spoon to little Fig who was jumping up and down with delight.

Popple was a hero. The fairies handed him the biggest slice of birthday cake imaginable. Popple thought he would have a quick fly over the pool to show off his flying skills. He spread his wings out. They felt rather heavy. Oh dear, he couldn’t flap them at all. Popple’s wings were waterlogged. Whatever could he do? He had to fly back home before sunrise, but his wings were too full of water to flap.

Now it was the fairies’ turn to help Popple. They all picked up their towels and came over to him and started rubbing his wings dry. Some fairies turned their backs towards him and flapped their wings really fast, to make a draught like little hairdryers. After a few minutes they asked Popple to try flying again.

This time, up he went, whoosh.

“Thank you, fairies!” he shouted, “Bye for now,” and he flew off home to Pigland just in time for morning.

The End

Thank you to Aoife who sent me this lovely picture of Popple in a real boat.  I hope you all like it.  I do!

aoifes popple and the golden jellyspoon

Popple in his real boat

By Aoife Hillman


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Surya the Water Carrier (a story about love and respect in the family)

Story about love for primary school children of 6-9yrs.

SURYA THE WATER CARRIER

Children of the world all feel the need to be loved. We all hope that our parents love us and that our brothers and sisters love us. But is that enough? I am going to tell you a story about a child called Surya who was about eight years old. She lived in a small village in India and had two brothers. Surya was usually a happy child. She would often help her mother to carry water back from the well to her home. Each day this task had to be done – once at sunrise and once at sunset. It was quite a long walk to the well. She and her mother would carry the water jars on their heads.

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Surya’s mother could carry a larger jar than Surya, but Surya knew the water she carried was just as important. “All the water you carry will be used. So however much you carry, it is all useful,” her mother always reassured her.

This made Surya feel important. She knew that without water her family would not survive. She knew that her family depended on her work so that they could wash, drink and cook their food. She was pleased to be able to help them.

They would smile at her and call her, “Our water carrier”. Surya liked this. It made her feel nice and warm inside. Even if she was tired and weary, when they smiled she felt better.

One day she asked her mother about this feeling. “Mother, what is it in my body that makes me feel warm and happy when I bring back the water and daddy smiles at me? Something inside me seems to get bigger and get warm. “It feels so nice. It doesn’t happen when people turn their heads away from me and don’t notice me. It feels like a little warm animal inside me. When someone smiles, it gets up and turns round, and fluffs out its fur and snuggles down. When no-one smiles, it just lies there and doesn’t move. It just stays there very quiet, waiting and hoping for a smile.”

“Ah, I see, my child. You have begun to notice your heart. Yes, it is just like a little animal. It likes to give love and to be loved. When it can do both, it is very happy. When it gives love and nobody notices, it does not feel so happy. It waits quietly until someone notices it and then it wags its tail and turns round and round and is happy. And so it is with everyone. We all have a little warm feeling which comes into our hearts when we know we are loved. When we lose someone we love, or maybe our pet dies, then we feel very heavy inside. Our little warm place changes to a cold stone sitting in our chest, and our little furry animal seems to have gone away. We feel all alone. But it is then that we need to remember that everybody has love somewhere in their heart. If we need love, we must give love. Give a smile and a kind word to another person and you will make them feel nice and warm inside. In turn they will smile at you and thank you for your kindness and you will not feel alone any more. Love is what we all need and in order to get it, we must be sure to give it. Children are very good at giving love. It is something they do very easily and it is something that they need to remember to do as they get older. No matter how hard life is at times, if you can love people, you will never feel lonely.”

 

Surya and her mother

QUESTIONS:

1. What is the story about?
2. What name would you give the story?
3. What made Surya happy?
4. How did she feel when her father smiled at her?
5. How did she feel when no-one smiled at her?
6. How did you feel as you listened to the story?
7. Does the story remind you of anything in your life?
8. What does the story mean to you?

Deng Zhang Looks for His Father (A story about forgiveness and acceptance for kids and teens)

                               DENG ZHANG

As a child I lived with my parents in a village not very many miles from the outskirts of Beijing. They were only allowed to have one child because it was feared that the population would expand too rapidly if families had more than one offspring. After I was born my father went to Beijing to work in the city. He had a rickshaw and he would work very hard to earn money to send home to us. We did not see him very often.
When he came back for one of his short visits, he was always overcome with joy to see us. The tears would roll down his face as he embraced us. My mother would make a very special meal. She never stopped smiling when my father was around.
As I grew older, I asked my father why he did not stay at home with us. He could work on the land, as mother did, growing vegetables. We could sell them and make enough money so that he did not have to go away.
“No, no, my son,” he would say. “If I were to stay at home, your mother and I would argue. We would not be happy. She would have more children and we would be in trouble. This is the best way for us all.”
I did not understand my father. Mother was always happy when he was at home. Why did he think they would argue? She was always smiling when he was around and when he went away she grew quiet and sad.
One day I decided to ask mother why father did not stay at home. I asked her if she thought they would argue if he was there every day.
“Deng Zhang, my son, sometimes it is difficult to explain your feelings to your child. I love your father very much, but before you arrived when there were just the two of us, he would spend some of the time working in Beijing, just the same as now.

When I asked him why he said. ‘I cannot live with one person all my life. I need time alone, time to think. Although I love you, and I do not have eyes for any other woman, to be with you all day, every day, would be too much for me. I told you this when we married and you agreed that you would be happy to let me go away at times. When our child is born I will go away and work in the city. I will send you money to bring up our son or daughter, and I will visit you sometimes, but do not ask me to stay. This I cannot do’.”
My mother said she was sad about not having father around, but she accepted his decision. She had agreed to living separate lives, even before they were married, although she would have preferred not to. She was not alone – many of the women in our village had husbands who worked away from home. It was very common. None of mother’s friends had husbands at home. Some of them never came back at all after they left for Beijing. Some sent money regularly and some did not. Some would return, penniless perhaps once a year and their wives would feed them and mend their clothes. They in turn would help with the heavy work of mending the roof or adding another room to the house. Then they would be off again.
My mother forgave my father for his long absences and was grateful that he returned to see us when he did. She learnt to live with the situation and to forget her sadness when he was away.
Unlike many of the women, she was not bitter about him not being there for us. She did not scream and shout at him in anger on his return, nor did she plead with him to stay when he decided to leave.
She could laugh and joke with the other women in the village and they supported each other in times of trouble. I grew up knowing that my father loved me and the times my family spent together were very happy. I would have liked to have seen my father more, but it was not to be. If mother had been harder on my father, he may never have come home at all, like so many of my friends’ fathers. Her forgiveness made it possible for him to keep returning and she was grateful for the happy times they had together.
Unfortunately my mother died when I was twelve years old. My father was away from home at the time. I decided I would try to find him and his rickshaw in Beijing. I haven’t found him yet, but I am still looking.


QUESTIONS: Support answers to questions 2 to 6 with evidence from the text.
1. What name would you give this story?

2. Why had Deng Zhang’s father left for Beijing?
3. What good qualities did Deng Zhang’s mother have?
4. Why was she able to remain happy?
5. How did she feel when her husband first left?
6. What explanation did her husband give for staying in Beijing?
7. How did you feel when you heard the story?
8. Did the story remind you of anything in your own life?

Mother’s Quiet Time (a story about the importance of meditation) for age 12 to adult

The Seventh Limb of Yoga: Dhyana,Meditation from my book Yoga Philosophy for Young People – a collection of stories and guidance.

Many people in the West think that meditation is very weird indeed; something done by religious fanatics and those who have cut themselves off from normal society.My story is to show you that meditation can be a part of normal life. The story is told in the voice of Guptananda, an old Indian Guru.

Mother’s Quiet Time

When I was a child and my father worked in the temple, my mother, my brother, my sister and I would be at home.Mother had several servants who helped with the work in the house and garden, and who looked after the animals.Every day mother would have a meeting with the servants before they started their work. We children would still be in bed, but sometimes if I got up early I would see them all sitting down outside in our courtyard.

Mother would greet them all with “namaste” and bow her head and they would also bow, then they would all sit in silence for a few minutes.They would close their eyes and no one would speak.The silent period would be ended with the ringing of a little bell, which my mother always had with her.It was the same bell she used to summon the servants when she needed help.After ringing the bell my mother would tell each person what she wanted him or her to do that day and would ask if they had anything to say.Sometimes they brought up problems they were having with some aspect of the work, but usually they would just bow and smile and thank God for being healthy and strong and for the gift of another new day. Thus it was in our house, peaceful and contented.

However, one week when my mother’s sister came to stay I remember Mother decided not to have the morning meditations.Her sister was about to give birth and had come to us for her confinement.Mother told the servants briefly what to do at the beginning of each day and listened to their problems, but had no quiet period before the start of the working day.What a terrible week that was!Everyone seemed to be arguing with everyone else.Nothing was going right.My mother forgot to buy the dahl (lentils) at the market so we all had to eat nothing but chapatis (bread) and some tired vegetables.Mother was so preoccupied with her sister that she seemed to forget about us.This was to be my Aunt’s first baby so this was a very big event for her.Meanwhile my brother fell off the horse and broke his arm and my sister nearly fell down the well!Two narrow planks of wood, which had been carelessly placed over it, saved her.She was very shocked.Mother blamed the servants for not covering the well properly, but I knew it had been me.I was to blame.I had been watering the animals, drawing the water up with a bucket when Raja had bolted.I hastily threw two pieces of wood over the brick work hole and chased after my horse.After several days everyone was extremely irritable and exhausted and my father couldn’t understand what had come over his family.

“Surely your sister is not so important that she be allowed to upset all the family and servants with her new baby, which isn’t even born yet?”

Then my mother explained how she had stopped organizing a quiet period at the beginning of the day because of being so busy.

 

“Ah, I see the problem now,” said father.”Everyone thinks they are so busy that they have no time to sit and reflect on the day, on their work and on God’s gifts.Well you see what happens when we don’t spare ourselves just a few minutes of peace – we get chaos.Surely we can find five or ten minutes at the beginning of the day to be calm and thoughtful and to ask the Lord what it is that we need to know and do each day?In future let my family return to its previous ways and the baby will be born into an atmosphere of calmness and contentment rather than one of anger and chaos!”

The baby was born two days later and she was named Shanti (Peace).

 

 

 


 

The Day the Ladder Slipped (a story about telling the truth)

A story about making excuses, recognising the truth, the importance of being truthful. Suitable for primary children and young teens ( 9-13 years)

 

The Day the Ladder Slipped

This was the day I fell from the roof as I was trying to retrieve my football from the gutter between our house and our neighbours.

What a disaster – the ladder slipped. I had not tied it to the down pipe like my dad always did. There was slimy green stuff growing on the guttering and the ladder just slipped sideways. I felt myself falling. I heard my voice shouting out …

“Help!” which was pretty stupid because I knew there was no one around. Crash, the ladder fell against my neighbour’s glass porch.

I remember thinking ‘I’m going to get cut up here, I must cover my eyes.’

I raised my hands to my face, but I didn’t feel anything. I just remember landing on the ground with a horrible thud. The ladder smashed the porch, but I had not been at the top of it fortunately, however I had fallen a long way and had landed awkwardly. My foot was bent at a funny angle underneath me and when I tried to stand up my legs wouldn’t take my weight.

Then the pain started. It was terrible. My Mum was at work and my neighbours were on holiday. If I was to get help I had to somehow move myself from the back garden up the drive to the road in the front. Then hopefully someone would see me and call for an ambulance. It was difficult to think straight because of the pain I was feeling. It came in waves and when it was at its worst I thought I was going to be sick. I managed to drag myself on to my hands and one knee. The other leg didn’t seem to belong to my body any more. It was just hanging on to me at the hip like a dead fish.

I heard my breath coming in great gulps. I was angry because I thought I may be crying and I didn’t want anyone to find me in tears. Then I realised that it was just my body reacting to the shock and the pain. I looked around for blood and couldn’t see any, so I thought I’d try pulling myself along the ground dragging the dead fish beside me.

As I got closer to the dustbin by the garden gate I spotted my brother’s old skate board tucked in behind a pile of newspapers. I pulled it out and tried to lay my unusable leg along it. It made my progress to the end of the drive much easier, though it still seemed to take ages. Eventually, trembling and gasping I reached the pavement outside my house. A man was walking along the road with his dog. He looked down at me as I reached up towards him.

The Day the Ladder Slipped

“Stupid kid,” he growled, “Those skateboards should be banned.” Ignoring my gasps and pained expression, he stomped away yanking his dog fiercely.

By this time I was beginning to feel faint. Sounds were coming and going and I couldn’t focus on anything. I wanted to cry out for help but I could not. I felt myself sink down onto the pavement and enter a kind of blackness. 

Next thing I knew I was being lifted into an ambulance on a stretcher. The blue light flashed turning the surrounding buildings a weird colour. Someone was stroking my forehead. It felt very comforting, and a kind voice told me I would be all right, ‘probably a broken leg’, they said.

I passed out again. I don’t remember anything after that until I saw my mum and dad looking down at me. I was in a strange room. The lights were bright and I could see pale curtains half enclosing us. My parents looked very concerned.

“Mum?” I said after taking in the scene, “Where am I?”

My mother immediately started to cry and to kiss my hand. My dad explained that I was in hospital and that I had had an emergency operation on my ankle. Apparently I had hurt it so badly when I fell that it would not have righted itself.  

Oh, no, not broken my ankle! That meant that I wouldn’t be able to play for the team this term. I couldn’t believe it. I had tried so hard for a place in the team, and they had finally selected me last week. Now this. I felt so stupid and so angry. It was the football that had caused this disaster in the first place. I let out a huge moaning sigh.

“Whatever happened?” said my mum; “We saw the ladder and the broken windows next door.”

I couldn’t tell them. How could I say I was such a lousy shot I had kicked the ball up on the roof? My dad had been pretty sarcastic about my place on the team. Now what would he say? I had to make myself into a hero instead of a laughing stock.

Then I saw it, a picture of our ginger tom, my sister’s pride and joy, up on the roof, crying and calling, needing help.

I told them how I struggled to lift the ladder up to the guttering, and how I managed to entice Thomas over to me, and how just as we were starting to go back down the ladder, it had slipped on the algae and I had fallen.

My mother looked at my father and he raised his eyebrows.

“I think I get the picture now. I did wonder, I must say, but I think I can guess what happened now.” He said.

“What do you mean guess?” I said, acting hurt, “I just told you what happened!”

“Dave, I took Thomas to the vet today. He’s still there, recovering from his operation,” said mother quietly.

“And your football is still stuck in the gutter, which is where it might as well stay for the next few months, because you certainly won’t be needing it. You’ll be able to help me in the shop like I asked you to. Sorry, son, but you never have been the greatest footballer in town, and I could really use your help on a Saturday afternoon. You can show me how to work out the accounts on the computer.”

I looked away, too embarrassed and disappointed to speak. 

“Tell you what, son, don’t make feeble excuses to explain away your carelessness and I won’t make fun of your sporting efforts. By the time your ankle has healed you will have taught me all I need to know about computing, and I’ll buy you that bike you’ve been wanting. That’s much more up your street isn’t it? You don’t have to score goals on a bike do you? Oops, sorry, Dave.”

 

Questions:

1. Did the story remind you of anything in your life?

2. Why do you think Dave lied to his parents about the accident?

3. Have you ever lied to get yourself out of an embarrassing situation?

4. What do you think about the expression ‘Honesty is the best policy’?

5. If you tell lies, how will people know when you are telling the truth?

6. If people don’t believe you when you are telling the truth, how does that affect you?

7. Would you rather be known as a liar or an honest person?

 

My sister has an admirer (A story about relationships for young teens)

This story is told by an old Indian gentleman who lived very many years ago.
It was written to illustrate Bramacharya, or sexual self control. It is followed by some advice for the Western teenager of today.

When my sister, Usha, reached the age of thirteen my mother started to fret about finding her a husband. In India in those days, girls married very young. Life was often short; you had to get on with the business of living before you died.

My sister did not want to think about getting married. She was enjoying being a girl. She enjoyed playing in the rain, swimming in the river and climbing trees.

Mother would scold her saying, ‘How do you expect anyone to want to marry you when you always look so untidy? Look at your hair, look at the mud on your clothes. You are a young woman now. It’s time you stopped all these childish pursuits!’ But my sister did not listen. She was enjoying herself too much.

One day we had a visit from the merchant in the market and his son. They wanted to speak to my father about when our crops would be ready to take to market.

“You must ask my wife about that sort of thing,” said my father. She and my daughter and the servants take care of the crops.”

Usha who was hiding behind the door in the next room felt herself fill with pride. I saw her straighten up and look important when father mentioned that she was in charge of the crops. She peeped round the corner and her eyes met the eyes of the merchant’s son. I have never seen my sister acting as strangely as she did on that morning. She happened to be clean and tidy as it was early in the day and she had not had time to get muddy. She stepped boldly from the shadows and said:

“Father, Mother and I would be very pleased to show Mr. Mehta our fields. We can tell him exactly what we have grown and when we hope it will be ready,” and she looked across at the young man, a very handsome youth of about sixteen and smiled demurely.

“Very well, Usha, I’m sure Mother will be very glad of your help,” replied Father, and he disappeared leaving us to show the merchant and his son our crops. I say us, because I certainly did not want to miss out on watching my sister in this new role she had suddenly taken on. It was a transformation. My sister, instead of laughing, running and skipping was walking quietly behind my mother who was discussing business with Mr. Singh. His son had certainly noticed her. He couldn’t take his eyes off her.

My sister asked the young man if he worked in the market with his father.

“Indeed I do, Miss, but I do not work on Saturdays. Can I come and call on you?”

“I don’t know, I’ll have to ask my father,” said Usha, blushing. She chatted away to the young man about all sorts of things. I soon lost interest and wandered off.

That evening my sister asked my father at the dinner table if the young man could come to call on her on Saturday. My father stopped eating and looked very serious.

“Ah, my daughter, I see a change is coming to us. I see we need to talk about your future. I have nothing against the young man personally. Indeed he is a fine young man. However, he is not of the same background as you. He is not a Brahmin, he is one of the merchant classes, not a high enough caste for this family. If you were to see him and you were to do everything he wanted you to do, you would soon be very close indeed. So close that there would be no space for even a piece of hay to be squeezed between you, then you would have to marry the boy and bring up your child according to his caste.

Tell me this, Usha? Do you enjoy the way of life that we have? Do you like to have a big house and land and servants to help you? How would you feel if you lived in a tiny shack and spent most of your time out in the sun working very hard in between rearing your babies with no help at all?”

Usha looked very serious. “I don’t think I would like that very much, Father,” she said.

“Then why not wait and give yourself properly in marriage to a suitable young man who will provide you with a lifestyle that you are accustomed to. There is plenty of time in spite of what your mother says. She was eighteen when I married her. She refused many suitors before her perfect man came along…”

My Father looked meaningfully at mother before he turned and left the room.

Usha looked down cast. “What do you think, Mother?” she asked.

“Well, I don’t think there’s any hurry really, dear. I do agree with Father that it is best to keep your love and your body to yourself until someone suitable in every way comes along. You can be sure that he will. How many unmarried women do you know?”

My sister could not think of any at all.

“Well, my dear, best keep yourself to yourself, stay chaste rather than be chased, that’s what my mother used to say to me! And when a really good suitable hunter comes along, you will be able to enjoy the chase!” My Mother patted Usha. A silence followed. My sister stood up looking wistful.

“Well, I’m off out to climb a tree. You coming Ramu?” she sighed.

“I’m glad you’re not going to get married yet,” said I. “It’s good to have someone to climb trees with. Father says I’m too old to be climbing trees, but I love it!”


N.B. This story raises several issues which require some explanation. The caste system is a part of the Indian tradition, where society is divided into different classes or castes. Within each caste people have their own system of values and behaviour. At the top are the Brahmins, a class of priests, to which Ramesh and his family belonged. The class below would be the Kshatriyas who in the past were barons and warriors. The Vaisyas are the next class, being merchants, or commoners. Lastly the Sudras are the craftsmen and labourers. Below them are those who do very menial work, such as road sweepers. The Hindi name for them is Harijan which means people loved by God, the implication being that nobody else loves them. (Hari means Lord, Jana means people). In English they are referred to as ‘the Untouchables’.In the West we have royalty and aristocracy at the top of the social tree followed by the upper classes (landed gentry) then the middle classes, followed by the working class. People resist the mixing of the classes in general and certainly in the past it would be frowned upon if for example a servant married her master (or his mistress, as the case may be). In India one is expected to follow one’s dharma or path in life according to spiritual law. It is a taboo* or forbidden to act against dharma. You are expected to marry into your own caste. The word for caste in Sanskrit is vara and it means ‘colour’, but has nothing to do with the colour of one’s skin. It means a leaning towards, a tendency, an inclination of the mind. Hindus believe that we come into this world into an appropriate caste for our required life experience at that time, bearing in mind they believe we each have many lives on this earth. This is the reason it is taboo to marry outside one’s caste. However, a woman may marry into one caste above hers, but not into a lower caste. This is because it is thought that a woman will not respect her husband if he is of a lower caste. Some modern spiritual leaders now say there is only one caste, the caste of the human race.

Society is gradually becoming more mixed up these days, as education allows those with ability from the lower classes to have good jobs and earn good incomes. In modern times we say that everyone is equal, all human beings are due the same respect.

Usha’s father was worried that she might fall in love with a young man who could not provide her with the sort of life that she was used to. This is a practical consideration and a matter of real concern for parents, then as now. In those days, (and indeed even now in some areas of countries such as India and Pakistan) girls got married as soon as their periods started. This was to make sure that if a girl became pregnant, she and the child would belong to a family that would be able to support them both emotionally and financially. Although the girls were very immature, the extended family system would look after the young parents and help them to bring up their children. The girl’s mother-in-law would always be available.

GUIDANCE ON SEXUAL SELF-CONTROL

BRAMACHARYA

This is a tricky subject for many people in today’s world because we live in a liberal society, in the western world at least, where unlimited sex can appear to be OK. It is particularly difficult for young people who somehow have to find a sensible way for themselves through all this freedom.

What is a sensible way? Pressure from friends, from TV ‘soaps’, from magazines and from advertising all seem to spell out a message that anything goes. People need to bear in mind many things before they start a sexual relationship. When puberty arrives and our bodies change and sex hormones start to make us feel attracted to the opposite sex, it can be very tempting to start to experiment with sex. But at that stage in our lives it is a dangerous game to play. Maturity helps us to make better decisions.

When people are more mature sex adds to the joys of a loving relationship, but it is important that the love comes first, not the sex. It is true that love sometimes follows sex and this is because sex can be such a powerful experience, but this creates great difficulties between people. Relationships built on sexual attraction alone soon become weak because all the other things that make a strong relationship may be missing. Things such as shared values, interests, family backgrounds and education are the true basis of relationship. Sexual appreciation should come after these aspects are considered. Sex is a promise of loving attention to the other person, but many people have forgotten this. They have short-term meaningless relationships, often of the sort where one of the partners ends up feeling ‘used’.

Sexuality is a beautiful gift to be enjoyed in sexual intercourse or we can choose to express it’s energy and excitement in other ways, through our creativity, dancing or singing or other exciting experiences. Casual sex is an empty, meaningless and dangerous activity. On the other hand sex in a loving and committed partnership strengthens the bonds between partners and brings them closer in understanding. That is not to say that the sex act is an essential activity in all loving partnerships. Some people find that it becomes unnecessary in their relationship at a certain age. Others continue their sexual activities into their sixties and seventies and consider it to be a very important part of life.

All creatures have an instinct to reproduce. Human beings are drawn to reproduce and form lasting relationships in order to look after their young. For us sex is a means of creating children and also a means of giving and receiving deep and loving pleasure. Sex is fun and is there to be enjoyed. It is a very strong desire in humankind but if it is treated with disrespect, it can lead to many problems.

When people have careless sexual relationships, the result is that fatherless babies are born to girls and women who are ill equipped to look after them. This is happening all over the world. In the UK figures in the year 2007 showed that we have more teenage pregnancies than any other country in Europe. Many children are brought up by only one parent. For the children this creates a huge gap in their lives, either having no father or sometimes no mother. The young parents miss out on having a supportive and loving partner to share the joys and also the many difficulties of bringing up a family. It can be a very hard and lonely job for the single parent.

Girls may decide to have an abortion, a very difficult decision to make. Occasionally, if old-fashioned methods are used, they may have difficulties in becoming pregnant later on when they do have a loving partner and they both want a family. Although there are many modern solutions to unwanted pregnancy, they do not come without a price: Pressure might be put on a girl to have casual sex because of the easy availability of contraception and ‘morning after’ pills and she could pick up one of the many sexually transmitted diseases. Some of these diseases cause sterility (being unable to have babies), some are difficult to treat medically and may affect people for the whole of their lives; some such as AIDS are often fatal. Although these diseases are relatively uncommon, more and more people are affected by them, especially people who are promiscuous (those who have casual sexual intercourse with many partners)

So when dealing with sex the first consideration is respect for oneself and for the other person who is involved. It is best to let sex develop in committed relationships. Perhaps the relationship will not turn out as you hoped, but at least you will have loved and respected the other person, and were also loved and respected yourself.

We need to understand how our bodies work. It is dangerous to hide behind ignorance and the excitement of being swept away by the moment. If we do decide we are mature enough to cope with the possible results of pregnancy, then the safest way we can do this is to use contraception properly. It does not come with a hundred percent guarantee of safety, either from pregnancy or from picking up a disease, but it does reduce the likelihood of either or both, depending on the method used.*2

In the West it is now considered quite normal for children to learn about their own bodies by touching them and getting used to the sensations produced. It is not something to feel guilty about and for some people it releases tensions and removes the distraction of sexual thoughts. In the West girls and boys do go out with each other before marriage. Young people have to decide what is responsible behaviour, and ‘how far they can go’ without risk to their health, happiness, or to their future. Sober, clear-headed decisions are required to keep you out of trouble.

The average age of first sexual experience with another person in the UK in the 1990s was 17 for girls and 15 for boys, but most of those who had had early sexual experiences said they wished they had waited longer*. They had been pushed into experimenting with people they had no real feelings for, or had acted out of curiosity. Some had been under the influence of drink or drugs which dull the mind and make bad decisions more likely. Once a young person starts this kind of activity it can become harder to refuse the next time or the next person. Are young teenagers really ready for serious relationships, which could result in pregnancy and the responsibility of bringing up children, or for making agonising decisions about abortion? The world trumpets sex in nearly every advertisement, in most TV programmes, in magazines and in newspapers. It is easy to be taken in by all this publicity and to want to join in with what appears to be going on. Thoughtful people do not act in careless and irresponsible ways. The subject clearly needs some very careful thought and discussion before decisions are made.

Questions to ask yourself, or to discuss with friends, parents and teachers

· What to look for in a relationship?

· What makes a good relationship?

· What sort of peer pressure is there in relationships? (Peers are people of our own age)

· What sort of pressure may we get from a partner?

· Where can I get information about sex education? *2

* National Children’s Bureau, leaflet 158, Highlight 1998.

· Ref.4. Wellings, K and others (1994) Sexual Behaviour in Britain: The National Survey of Sexual attitudes and Life styles. Penguin

· Ref. 16. Thompson, R and Scott, (1991) Learning about Sex: Young women and the social construction of sexual identity

Tufnell Press

*2 Materials and information are available from Sex Education Forum < National Children’s Bureau, 8, Wakley Street, London ECIV 7QE Tel 020 7843 6056

Marty tests his strength ( A story about developing strength, suppleness and agility)

Marty tests his strength

Marty is an Inuit, or what we used to call Eskimo. He lives in a village in Canada. His grandfather lived the true Inuit life – travelling across the Arctic wastes, searching for polar bears and seals. His father knew a lot about Inuit life; he had been born in a village in Northern Canada. He had hunted with packs of dogs but he had never lived in an igloo nor a tent made of skins. His home was made of concrete blocks, like all the village houses.

Marty enjoyed hearing about Inuit life. His father was an electrical engineer. He would make sure all the phone lines were in good repair. After storms and blizzards Marty’s dad would go out with chains on his wheels and fix fallen lines. He was an important man in the village.

When winter turns into spring, the days start to become longer in the Arctic. The sun appears and starts to warm the land. During these times Marty’s father would suggest a trip out with the dogs for a bit of seal hunting. They would use Marty’s uncle’s dogs as they no longer kept their own.

One day they packed their equipment for a weekend trip and Marty, his dad and his uncle set off to the pack ice to look for seals. Even in modern times their meat is valued and the skin is very useful for making articles of clothing. They carried their ice cutting tools as they planned to make an igloo for the weekend.

Marty had heard about how you make igloos, but had never actually made one himself. His dad said it was a skill that all Inuit needed to learn. It was a survival skill which in their cold, hard land, could come in very useful sometimes.

If you wanted to go hunting you had to travel great distances over the ice to catch anything. Animals travelled far and wide on the icecap and you had to follow them to track them down. Of course these days modern tents can be used if you stay out overnight, but they are expensive and can be ripped open by polar bears. The old bear seems to avoid igloos and they are warmer to sleep in too.

On this occasion Marty’s uncle was showing Marty how to make the igloo. His dad was off tracking. The two were cutting up blocks of ice with the special ice saw. It was hard going. Marty had thought his uncle was an old man, and was surprised at how much stronger he was than Marty himself. Cutting the ice was tiring and lifting the blocks into position was difficult. They were heavy. Marty was not very used to hard work. He began to realise how little he actually used his muscles and his body in his own daily life. He never walked very far. In the winter when it was dark for most of the day his body became very lazy. He played on his computer, watched TV and did his school work. He was in the basketball team, but everyone seemed to lose interest in the dark months. It was almost like they were hibernating – sleeping a lot like the old grizzly bear.

His uncle was a carpenter. He worked hard, winter and summer on his wood. He liked to saw by hand when possible. That way he said, his body stayed strong. Certainly it was much stronger than Marty’s body.

“What’s the matter with you, boy” asked his uncle as the lad dropped the ice saw on the ground and sat down heavily.

” I need a rest, Uncle Pete, my arm won’t saw any more.”

The older man grunted. “We’ve hardly started and you want a rest already?”

“It’s alright for you, you’re used to sawing, I’m not.”

“Well, help me set these blocks in place, then. That will rest your sawing muscles.”

Half heatedly Marty stumbled to his feet. He could hear the irritation in the old man’s voice. Marty thought he ought to be able to do better than he had. He was embarrassed.

Uncle Pete reached in his pocket.” Here, have some chocolate. It’s not as good as seal blubber but it will give you some energy. “

Gratefully Marty bit off a large chunk. He felt more like working now. He struggled to lift the first block. Uncle Pete had to help him. Together they made the beginnings of the wall. It was slow going. Marty was shocked at how little he could do. He had heard that two people could construct an igloo in a couple of hours. There was no way he and Uncle Pete could do that. He had to keep resting. Uncle Pete did most of the work. He wanted to help but he was just not strong enough.

Finally after about five hours the igloo was built and Marty’s dad returned empty handed. The three sat inside the igloo and discussed the day’s work. Marty admitted to his dad how little he had been able to do.

” I wanted you to find that out for yourself,” said his dad. ” You have to keep using your body, making it work, winter and summer. Otherwise when you need it, it will let you down. That’s why we like wrestling so much. It can be done in a small space. It’s cheap and it requires strength and agility. You don’t need daylight to do it. Computer games are all very well, but they are not like the real thing. All you have been exercising is your thumbs and fingers.”

Now Marty understood why his dad had been against him spending so much time on this computer. His body was losing out and he could feel it. He decided he’d do something about it as soon as they returned to the village. He offered to help Uncle Pete in his woodshed and signed up for the wrestling practise nights twice a week in the village hall. Marty’s friend Bill agreed to do the same. They would both get fit together, and then they’d be ready for anything.

Questions:

  1. Does this story remind you of anything in your life?
  2. Why is important to keep your body fit and strong?
  3. What kind of things can happen if you do not exercise your body enough?

Answers:

You need strength, stamina and suppleness.

You may not be able to use your body for ordinary jobs which require a little strength, e.g. carrying heavy things, lifting things.

You will find that you may easily hurt yourself, strain muscles, sprain joints, run out of energy, be short of breath, not be able to keep up with others.

You may feel lazy and sleepy like a much older person.

It’s harder to have fun when you are unfit!

Etc,etc….

The Doll and the Snake (A short story about forgiveness for age 6-9 years)

A Short Story about Forgiveness (for children 6-9 years) 

I was cold. I sat with my arms hugging my body on the step outside my house. I was cross. My sister had been annoying me again and I shouted at her. I threw her doll out of the window. My dad told me to go and get it and not to be so silly. I stamped outside and slammed the door. Why should I get her stupid doll? What did I care if it got wet in the rain? It didn’t matter to me. The porch over the front door was small, but it was keeping me dry. I didn’t want to go back indoors again. I started shivering. I only had my tee shirt on.

The front door opened a crack. My sister peeped through it at me. I pretended not to see her.

The Dol and the Snake story pic

‘I’m sorry, Tom,’ she said.‘I didn’t mean to annoy you.’

Suddenly I felt better. I looked up.

‘Come back in Tom,’ she said. ‘I’ll lend you my snake toy if you like.’

I jumped down off the step and ran into the garden. There under the tree was her doll. I picked it up. It cried. It was one of those dolls. I ran back in through the front door. My sister took the doll and gave it a hug. She pulled me through to the living room and put her snake toy in my hand.

‘I’m sorry too, ‘ I said. ‘Is your doll OK?’

‘She doesn’t mind getting wet,’ said my sister, ‘I gave her a bath yesterday!’

Suddenly I felt much better. I felt happy again, and warm. We played a good game with the doll and the snake. The snake was magic and it could bring the doll anything it wanted. And you know what the doll wanted? She wanted a big brother to play with. So I pretended to be the doll’s big brother. My sister does think up some strange games!

Questions

 Does the story remind you of anything in your life?

  1. In the story, who said sorry?
  2. How did Tom feel after he had forgiven his sister?
  3. Why did Tom say he was sorry?
  4. How did his sister show that she had forgiven him?
  5. What might have happened if neither Tom nor his sister had forgiven each other?
  6. Do you think this happens in families very often? What do you think about it?
  7. Older children:What does bearing a grudge mean?

A short yoga story on Contentment or Santosa. ‘Ramesh and the Parrot Feathers’

This story is told by an elderly Indian gentleman, about his childhood, many many years ago:

RAMESH AND THE PARROT FEATHERS

Contentment (Santosa)

When I was a child of about eight my father said to me, ”Ramesh, why do you have such a long face?’

He was always aware of my feelings, always observing and commenting on these things.

“Ramesh, why on this beautiful day, with the birds singing and the river running do you look sad? What could you have to feel sad about? The world is a beautiful place. Be happy.”

“I cannot be happy today, Father,” said I.

“And why is that, my son?”

“Because my brother has more friends than I have. I only have the two boys next door, and he has at least four friends.”

“But why should that trouble you, Ramesh? Do you not like your two friends? Are you not completely happy with them when you lose yourselves in the forest, when you climb the trees and wear parrots feathers in your hair?”

“Yes I am happy, but maybe I would be even happier with four good friends.”

“Happiness is happiness, my son. You cannot measure it. You cannot count it. You must learn to know it when you have it and be content with it, and if you are not lucky enough to be happy one day, then still be content to wait until it comes to you again, for surely it will. God is great. God is watching and providing for all of his children, but it makes Him unhappy to see you with a long face. So go and find your friends, my son. You do not want to make God, your father, unhappy do you?”

***

Some questions to ask yourself:

How do you feel when you always compare yourself to people who have more friends or more possessions than you have?

How do you feel when you appreciate what you do have and compare yourself to those who are less fortunate?

Think of the most contented person you know. What can you learn about happiness from him or her?