Unburying ourselves

Recently I was thinking about that most moral and profound of books, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. Written by a mother of two who had her own parenting struggles, it contains much more truth than it does magic. What are the best-remembered stories from Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle? Aside from the child who gets so dirty that she grows radishes on her arms, probably “The Selfishness Cure” and “The Won’t-Pick-Up-Toys Cure.” In the first one, Dick is cured of his don’t-touch-that’s-mine attitude by allowing him to go overboard painting his name and putting padlocks on everything; in the second, Hubert is imprisoned in his room by a mountain of toys.

Our culture is, more and more, built on material possessions and on claiming what’s “ours.” Jean Vanier wrote this in Becoming Human: “If we commit ourselves to the making of a society in which we are concerned only with our own right, then that society must become more and more closed in on itself.” He also said, “Fear closes us down; love opens us up.” Vanier gives us a philosophical escape from chaos and loneliness; Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle offers a practical solution.

“Then he heard a tapping at his window. He crawled over and reached out It was the rake with a note on it…It said: The only way you can get out of that trap is to put everything away where it belongs. If you hurry we will wait for you. Your friend, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.” (Betty MacDonald, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle)

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