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A TGB READER STORY: The Raisin-y Bite

By Sylvia Li

Granny often told this story from her childhood. She didn't approve – she made it clear she felt it wasn't right. Yet it mattered, and she wanted us to know it.

Victorian values: "Children should be seen and not heard." At the family dinner table, young Eleanor and her many brothers and sisters were required to be presentable, to sit quietly and to eat their dinner without interrupting the adults.

Afterwards they would be shepherded off to bed, nursery or schoolwork depending on their age.

Children being children, this didn't always work out.

In those days sweets were "bad for a child's digestion." Servings of dessert were small and eagerly gobbled up in no time. One evening, though, her younger brother Edgar decided to do something different.

On his fork, he carefully speared all of the raisins from his wedge of raisin pie. After everyone else's pie was gone, he left his chair and paraded around triumphantly, waving the luscious forkful of raisins under the whole family's noses.

"Look at my raisin-y bite!" he crowed. "Look at my raisin-y bite!"

Until he got to their father. CHOMP! In one quick snap, Papa ate the raisin-y bite.

Oh, the wailing, then! But it was too late. Those raisins were gone forever.

* * *

EDITORIAL NOTE: We have worked our way through the initial batch of reader stories and beginning next week, I will start publishing second stories from some of the same writers.

So – you may send new stories whether you have published previously or not. Instructions are here. Only one story. Please.


I can just imagine my grandson doing something like that. But his sister would have been the one snapping up the raisin-y bite!

I like being surprised and this didn't disappoint. It reminded me (is this an aging way to talk - it's natural to use oneself as a reference, yes?) of the one time I was bitten by surprise when, through a slit in the back window came my young small fingers with food, for a bear while in Yellowstone Park.

Now I want a raisin pie. Thank you!

The lesson my Granny's Papa thought he was teaching... was against material greed, against gloating over others because of a temporary advantage, even if won by careful savings. I suspect that's why Granny told us the story so often. She wanted us to learn that lesson -- and I did. It has stuck with me.

But at the same time, this is my Granny we're talking about -- who did not, would never, approve of being mean to small children. The lesson was good, she thought, but the teaching method was wrong, cruel, old-fashioned, and unfair.

She did not want us to blame her father or reject the lesson, but she did want us to look for better teaching methods.

Ohh, Sylvia!
And with just nine compact paragraphs and one quick bite, you've won me over. I don't know what you did/do for a living, but it's time that a change in profession, to that of a writer, would take place.

...and in my comment above I haven't got it quite right. It wasn't that she disapproved of the teaching method. It was that... gloating over a hard-won advantage is so human. In the telling, I have to say Granny completely identified, and made us identify, with her brother's feelings of raisin-y triumph, and then the hurt of the loss.

So yes, it's a parable, but it is a difficult parable.

Clever story, but I agree that the Victorian teaching methods were not very wise. Children should be encouraged to voice their opinion as it encourages conversation and the ability to teach them to think things through before making rash decisions for one thing.

I suspect that losing his raisins taught Edgar a well remembered lesson in not bragging and maybe that showing off is not very smart.

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