Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Small Elephant In The Room

Baby Elephant, in his corner
by the piano and the tea trolley

They all greet him as they arrive and pass him on their way to the bookcase to collect favourite toys or crayons and paper for their visit to the TH. They go over and check on him in between sips of tea from miniature china cups. The smaller ones sometimes just sit there in front of him, looking at him smiling at them. And as they leave they will often hug him, and many of them will drop a little kiss on his sweet trunk.

Baby Elephant, they call him. They talk to him and tell him things, things that sometimes we can't understand although he seems to: they glance at him, eyeball to eyeball, and he's still smiling at them.

Fanta and Ellie

But this morning something truly exceptional occurred. When Aneliese - my beautiful little friend who loves red tea in the blue tea set, whose face lights up at the thought of berries and cream for a treat - arrived for a morning visit with her mama, she collected Ellie and Fanta, the two stuffed elephants who sit in the foyer in my nephew Matthew's tiny rocking chair and welcome all the little visitors who come through the door. They accompanied Aneliese to her table and I think I caught a glimpse of one of them sneaking a little sip of tea when Aneliese wasn't looking ...

The morning got busy and I rushed around doing what I thought was important. Then she called me over.

"Look!" she exclaimed. And there were Ellie and Fanta, trunks entwined, sitting companionably next to Baby Elephant.

"Baby Elephant has friends!" I replied. She nodded vigourously, her face shining, and reached over to pat his trunk.

The thought came to me: why do we as grownups so often tiptoe around the elephant in the room? Why can't we examine it, openly and without guile like my little people do, and treat it as part of the comings and goings of the day? Maybe if we did that, if we weren't threatened by whatever it represents for us, we would realize, like incandescent Aneliese does, that the lonely little elephant needs to be acknowledged, needs a voice and an advocate, needs someone to make sure it has a friend.

And as the little girl bade farewell to the little elephant, I felt like I had been given the gift of a spring sunbeam pushing away the cobwebby obligations of what I thought was urgent for the day and lighting up what truly is important: taking the time to appreciate all creatures great and small.

Thank you, Baby Elephant!

Thank you, Aneliese!


  1. so beautiful - i miss you, aniliese and baby elephant so much.

    but i love freedom in this post - to acknowledge the hard. this too is a "beautiful spring sunbeam pushing away the cobwebby obligations of what I thought was urgent for the day".

    thank you.

    i love you.

  2. Thank you for your beautiful perspective and for taking time to stop and love my little girl. She (and I) is blessed because of it and we are going to miss going to "Miss Karyn's". To Aneliese, she truly sees it as a visit with you!


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