Lessons from the Velveteen Rabbit
I am really not sure which bits of love and perseverance work, but I do feel that in combination they are infinitely more powerful than money and politics. Best of all they are free, and the most powerful tools in our parenting artillery.
The combination of love, patience and perseverance are, I feel, beautifully portrayed in one of my favourite books, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. It tells the story of a stuffed rabbit and his journey to become real through the love of his owner. Written in 1922, the book has never dated and has been republished many times. It has played a significant role in our lives – the following being the reading at our wedding several years ago. Little did we know then that the words would be so relevant to our life as foster parents. Hope you like it too…
“What is REAL?” asked the Velveteen Rabbit one day… “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When [someone] loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.
“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand… once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”