Monday, 30 September 2013

Finding courage for difficult situations: The fox and the chicks

The fox and the chicks (adapted from a Masai story from Kenya)

I “anglicised” this story because I was telling it early in the school year to an audience which included the Year R children. I thought that explaining what an ostrich and a mongoose were would probably distract them, so wanted to go for more familiar animals. The original tale is here.

There was once a mother hen who had two baby chicks. The chicks were her pride and joy. She loved them so much!

One day she left them, just for a moment, to go and scratch up some nice juicy worms to feed them. But when she came back to them, they were nowhere to be seen.
She flapped about in alarm and ran to and fro. “Where have my chicks gone?” She searched high and low and eventually she came to a fox’s den. And there was mother fox, with her chicks tucked up under her paws, cuddled up as if they were fox cubs.

“Give me back my chicks” said the mother hen.

“Your chicks!” said mother fox. “These are not chicks, they are fox cubs. my fox cubs.” “But they look nothing like you,” said mother hen. “They have feathers not fur. They cheep, they don’t growl or bark like cubs do…Give me back my chicks!”

“I shall do no such thing” said mother fox, “unless you can find me one other creature who will stand here and look me in the eye and tell me these are chicks and not foxes!”

So mother hen went away and talked to all the other animals. She went from one to another – the squirrel up a tree, mouse in a hole, duck on the pond, and she told her sad story , and they all agreed it was a terrible thing that had happened, and quite wrong. She summoned them all to a meeting at mother fox’s den. Finally she went to rabbit, in her burrow. Rabbit was just as horrified as all the others, and she thought and thought – hmm, she said. Give me an hour or two – I need to do some digging first, but I will be there at your meeting. And Rabbit began to dig. She dug and dug, a great long tunnel, a tunnel with a hole at each end, one near her own burrow and the other just by fox’s den.

It By the time  she popped her head out of the hole, all the other animals were there, along with mother hen.

“Now” said mother hen, “you said that if I could find one other animal who would look you in the eye and tell me that those are my chicks, not your cubs, you would give them back. So here they are.” And she turned to the squirrel. “Squirrel, you will tell the fox won’t you, that these are chicks, not fox cubs.” But squirrel looked at fox’s sharp teeth, and the fierce look in her eyes…. “Um, well, they could be fox cubs, I suppose – no I really couldn’t say they were chicks.” Mother hen looked at her, very surprised. “Mouse, surely you will tell the fox the truth!” But mouse looked at fox’s sharp teeth and fierce eyes too. “I really couldn’t say, “ she squeaked. “Duck, what about you?” But duck just kept her bill closed and shuffled her feet…
“There you see,” said fox. “I told you so. Everyone agrees with me!”

“Oh no they don’t!” said a little voice. It was Rabbit. “I don’t agree with you at all. How can they be fox cubs? When ever did you see a fox cub all covered in yellow feathers? Give mother hen her chicks back at once!”

Mother fox was furious. She got up on her legs, and snarled at Rabbit, showing all her sharp teeth and she set off running towards her…But Rabbit was ready, and quick as a flash, she dived down that tunnel she had dug. It was too small for fox to fit down, but fox thought – never mind. She’ll have to come out sooner or later. I’ll just sit here by the hole and when she comes out, then I’ll get her. But you know and I know that Rabbit’s tunnel had two entrances, but fox didn’t know that. She sat by that hole for hours and hours, all day and into the night, but Rabbit didn’t so much as show a whisker, because she had got out the other end and gone right home to bed.

And while fox waited, mother hen quietly, quietly rounded up her chicks and went home too…

What did you think of that story?
Why didn’t the other animals tell the truth to the fox?
What helped Rabbit to feel brave enough to tell the truth?
(Having dug a tunnel so she could escape - she knew she was safe.)

Christians believe that it’s important to tell the truth, and that God is with us to help us when we do.
I wonder what helps you to feel brave when you are frightened.

I then showed a Power point slide with quote below, which I set in context, explaining that Joshua had a difficult and frightening thing to do, leading the people of Israel into a new land. We listened to  some music as we thought about the question I had posed below.(I used the Lente from Handel’s water music Suite in D, which had the right sort of brave feel, without being too loud.)

“Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.’ Joshua 1.9

Who or what helps you to feel brave when you are frightened?”

 We then talked a bit about what helps us to feel brave when we are frightened or know we have to do something difficult. The children suggested that their mums and dads or friends helped them to feel brave, and one child said it helped him to think of playing with his toys later - having something to look forward to.