Articles

The Proud Tree - Giving with Boundaries

There is a debate about the story "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein. Should people be self-less and give and give or have boundaries?  Katie Deutsch has written this response to Shel's book from the perspective that perhaps it's okay to set boundaries and not give until you have nothing left.

 

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The Proud Tree - Giving with Boundaries

Written by Katie Deutsch, A response to Shel Silverstein

The Proud Tree KDeutsch.Title

There once was a Tree and she loved a Boy.
The Boy gathered her leaves, made crowns to wear, and play king of the forest.
He climbed her branches, ate her apples, and the Tree was happy.

But the Boy grew older and visited less often.
One day the Boy came back and the Tree said, ‘Come boy, climb up my branches.’
The Boy wasn't having it, ‘I don’t want to climb your branches, I need money, I want to sell your apples at the market.’
The Tree thought about this for a moment. “Boy, I love to make you happy, and my apples are delicious. Take this harvest and in the spring I’ll grow more."
The Boy gathered all the apples from the Tree, and made a pretty penny at the market.

Years passed, and the Boy came back to the Tree, and the Tree was happy to see her friend. “Boy, come taste my delicious apples!”
But the Boy was somber, “I don’t want your apples, I need a house for a family.”
“I don’t have anything to help with that,” sighed the tree.
The Boy blinked a few times and gulped. “You could give me your branches, that way I could build a house.”
The Tree was shocked. These branches grew her delicious apples, were the home of countless birds and squirrels. Strong and plentiful for all children to climb.
“No. You are being selfish, and I don’t like the assumption that you own my branches to do whatever you wish.”
The Boy shrugged and walked away sheepishly.

 

Many years later, the Boy came back.
“What is wrong Boy, you look so sad! Come sit and talk to me, share your problems.”
The Boy started to cry, “I am so sick of the world. It is so hard and it always challenges me. I wish I had a boat, so I could sail away and find peace. Give me your trunk so I can find an escape.”
Once again, the Tree was surprised and sharply spoke to the Boy, “The world will always challenge you, it doesn’t stop. And running away won’t solve your problems, only create new ones. And besides, your family needs your love and support.”
The Boy grew angry, threw up his hands, stomped away from the tree and disappeared.

More years passed, and the Boy came to visit once more, but this time he was an old man. The Tree welcomed him with open branches, calling out, “Hello old friend, it has been a long time.”
The Boy looked up at the beautiful apples, the majesty of her branches, marveled at her strong trunk and weeped, “Thank you for your strength, and thank you for your wisdom. I wanted everyone to bend to my will, but life doesn’t work that way.”
The Tree beamed with gratitude, “Yes, Boy, true friendship and love are built on boundaries. I’m glad you found peace. Come, sit down and rest."

 

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Copyright 2019 by Katie Deutsch

Posted with permission by Katie Deutsch