Staying open to messages communicated in all forms
She proudly announced that she had a book to share with me. It was the first book she checked out from the school library this year. I was excited to see it. She said she would leave it on my desk and I could take my time to read it uninterrupted after she and her sisters were in bed. She added that it would definitely make me feel “Awwww”, a feel-good book. Knowing her well, it would either be an inspiring story or have adorable illustrations.
Once the house settled into calm and quiet, I walked into my study and picked up the hardcover book on my desk. I smiled as I read the title out loud “A Little Book of Sloth” written by Lucy Cooke, a National Geographic explorer, zoologist and author. And yes, as my child had predicted, my heart murmured an “Awwwww” as I admired the cover, which was a photo of a baby sloth cuddling up with a plush bunny toy.
The first paragraph of the book read “I love sloths. I always have. I love their sweet smiles, slo-mo lifestyle and innate hugability. I believe that being fast is overrated and that the sloth is the true king of the jungle.” A smile washed over my face and I chuckled out loud. If she wanted to send me a message, this was a very direct one. Our child with her sweet smile, deliberate slowness and love for hugs were undeniably analogous to how this animal was being described.
I unhurriedly read every single word and took time for thoughtful pauses between sentences. The book described a sanctuary in Costa Rica, the Sloth Appreciation Society, various facts about and endearing photos of these slow moving mammals. I heard myself laughing when I read that sloths spent seventy percent of their time resting and did everything upside down. I took note of the fact that despite their idleness, they belong to a prehistoric classification of mammals known as the Xenarthra and their evolution can be traced back to 60 million years ago. They are survivors in spite of their slow mobility. They were a misunderstood creature and had been labeled less intelligent and even lazy, as a result of being named after one of the deadly sins.
“ You’ve made your point.” I uttered almost audibly, as if my child was standing in front of me. My heart smiled broadly: as nurturing parents, we are our children’s sanctuary and the founders of their appreciation society. As their caregivers, we have much to learn from their ways. We are champions of their cause and will guard their survival with our own lives.
As my head lay on my pillow later that evening, I had trouble falling asleep. I was not fully able to recollect the exact words from one of her favourite stories as a young child. I took myself out of bed and up to the shelf of their treasured books and read out loud:
“ “ I am relaxed and tranquil, and I like to live in peace. But I am not lazy.” Then the sloth yawned and said “That’s just how I am. I like to do things slowly, slowly, slowly.” ”
– Eric Carle’s Slowly, Slowly, Slowly Said the Sloth.