I’m not exactly sure why, but Dumbo has been one of my favorite characters since I was a toddler. I’m not sure who gave it to me, but I even remember the stuffed animal I couldn’t part with, a baby elephant with a red corduroy vest and big red corduroy ears.
In the Disney movie Dumbo, a baby elephant was ‘delivered’ to Mrs. Jumbo and it had big, floppy ears. He was made fun of and wasn’t accepted. During one of the circus acts, Dumbo was supposed to be at the top of the elephant pyramid, but tripped over his ears, toppling the Big Top and injuring the other elephants. He was banished from the act and turned into a clown. His feelings were hurt. But Timothy Q. Mouse felt sorry for him. Timothy convinced Dumbo that if he held a ‘Magic Feather’ in his trunk, he could fly. When Dumbo leapt from the platform way up in the Big Top, he lost his feather and it was only Timothy’s urgent prodding and convincing that indeed, Dumbo flew and became the darling of the circus and turned the scorn of the other elephants into respect.
A lot to think about in this one.
I could talk about acceptance and making fun of another because he or she was different.
Legend has it that elephants are afraid of mice. Not sure if that’s true or not, but I thought it interesting that an “enemy” was chosen as Dumbo’s “friend”. Upon seeing Dumbo picked on and made fun of him, the smallest of creatures, an “enemy” came to his defense and rescue. He became Dumbo’s mentor, his cheerleader, his coach, his counselor and his teacher.
How often I see individuals of all walks and stations in life looking out for someone!
Earlier this year, there was a student trying to pump ketchup onto her tray when an air bubble caused ketchup to burst onto her blouse and slacks. Two students saw it happen, left their lunch and took this young lady into the bathroom to help her get cleaned up.
The interesting thing about this story?
Only one student knew who the girl was and only as an acquaintance. The other girl didn’t know her, but saw she needed help. Easily, the two girls could have laughed. Easily, the two girls could have kept on eating their lunch. After all, they only have twenty or twenty-five minutes to do so. But they didn’t. They saw someone in need and helped out. They moved so quickly that no one had the opportunity to laugh or make fun of the girl.
And, what of the ‘Magic Feather’?
A couple of years ago at the beginning of the year, I showed a brief clip of Dumbo and challenged my teachers and staff to be the Timothy Q. Mouse for at least one student, and somehow, someway give that student a ‘Magic Feather’ to help that student ‘fly’.
For some, it was a challenge. It takes time. It takes effort. Sometimes, there doesn’t seem to be the anticipated results. And sometimes, there is no appreciation given.
But every now and then . . .
Pat is a teacher who has a difficult student in a difficult group of students in one class. The student was disruptive, belligerent, and passive-aggressive, you name it. Pat told her what was expected and reminded her when she wasn’t rising to those expectations. Then, Pat went above and beyond. She noticed when the student met those expectations and complimented her, said things like, “Good job!” or “Keep up the good work!” and “I appreciate your effort!” Those sorts of things.
One Friday as the girl left Pat’s room, she handed Pat a note thanking her for caring, for supporting her, for being there.
Kids notice. We notice.
All of us, especially kids, need a Timothy Q. Mouse in their lives. There are times when we need a mentor, a sounding board, a coach. There are times when we need a shoulder to lean on, someone to listen to us, be silent with us. There are times when we need support, comfort, a friend.
And, there are times when we need a Magic Feather to make it work. Perhaps, and to me the best thing, is that we can be that Magic Feather for each other, for someone else. We can convince someone that flight is possible, that it is possible to soar above the clouds and into the sun, and beyond the horizon.
To be a Magic Feather for someone. Something to think about . . .
Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!