This post is a part of my “Board Book Beauty – Savoring the small as I read to my toddler” series. To see all of the posts in the series, go here.
I feel a kind of sympathy for the turkey in Sandra Boynton’s books. Or, to be precise, the two of her books we own in which he makes an appearance: A to Z and Blue Hat, Green Hat. In the former, the poor guy is depicted flat on his face with the label “Turkey Tripping,” but that’s nothing compared to the latter, where his presence is always accompanied by the word, “Oops!”
Katie laughs uproariously as he wears his shirt upside-down or puts his pants on head. Silly turkey. His friends – the elephant and the bear and the moose – all know, as do the rest of us, the proper use of such things, but the bird just can’t seem to get his act together.
It’s all in good fun, of course, and the books aren’t in any way mean-spirited. The turkey is goofy, silly, good for a laugh. We read about him together, and I have no concerns about the fun we have as we do.
And yet, I have an affinity for him, a bit of compassion for his plight. For I am keenly aware of the ways in which I differ from those around me. I’m uncomfortable in my own skin, uncertain and awkward in social settings. Though I don’t wear my coat backwards or put my socks on my hands, I often feel as though I get it all wrong, as though everyone else received some memo I missed on how to dress and how to act and how to talk. I am the turkey.
Except as I look through Blue Hat, Green Hat again, I realize I’m wrong. Though I may be out of place just as he is, I’m not him.
He looks straight ahead, holding his head high. He shows no shame or sadness about – or, indeed, awareness of – his differences. He does his own thing, not seeming to care even a little what those around him are doing. He owns his unique approach, content to be who he is, even if who he is is a bit quirky.
I, on the other hand, have an urgent need to fit in, a desire to be just like everyone else, to bury those things that make me unique. Were I the one in the book, I’d be giving sidelong glances to the other animals, trying to see what they’re doing, changing my behavior until we all looked exactly the same.
Silly, quirky turkey who marches to the beat of your own drum. Maybe, rather than feeling sympathy for you, I should try to learn from you instead.
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