Childhood experiences form the backbone of many folktales. This is when most of us learn life's important lessons. Unfortunately, not all lessons are happily learned because children can be cruel to one another.
In this poem and accompanying painting on the left, My Old Brown Shoes, Marion Witte, author of Little Madhouse on the Prairie (Angel Heart Publishing) shares with us the shame she experienced as a child who was looked down upon because of her hand-me-down clothing.
In an effort to overcome the pain, she sought her father's counsel. His words gave her comfort and, more importantly, a perspective about what is really important in life. In this case what she wore in her heart was more important than what she wore on her feet.
In fact this particular memory (folktale) shows us how she's been able to turn seemingly unbearable moments into learning opportunities that now help other children elsewhere. One such example is her Angel Heart Foundation which advocates for the rights of all children.
Perhaps one day someone will write a folktale about her!
My Old Brown Shoes
A girl in my class, at my school
Saw my shoes had a little tear
She said they looked like something that
A hobo bum would wear
Another boy joined in with her
Together they laughed at me
Children can sometimes be so cruel
My hurt they did not see
I cried that night, I was so sad
Embarrassed and ashamed
I wanted to dress like everyone else
For that I can’t be blamed
I asked my daddy for advice
For the pain I could not bear
He took a breath and smiled down
These words he then did share
“Your shoes may be a little tattered
And they are handed down
Yet they are strong, and they are clean
And we keep them polished brown”
“The shoes you wear, matter not
They will soon be thrown away
But the love you wear, in your little heart
Will last forever and a day”