Thoughts from the bottom of the beanstalk…

My youngest started Prep yesterday (Queensland). It seemed more of a momentous step this year, even though I have been here as a parent twice before and as a teacher, many times.

Maybe because it is my last child to start, maybe because my “Little Man” is not so little anymore, but my emotions are high. As the Early Childhood Teacher in me knew all was well, the “Mum” in me fought back with irrational sadness, a few tears and an over whelming desire for chocolate ice-cream.

The teachers at my children’s school are fantastic and among the most professional and caring I have ever known. Better than any instructional newsletter or top tips sheet, they knew the following tale would help this emotional transition for children and (more so) for parents.

I present it here for you now. The author is unknown.  It may help a friend, parent or family overcome some of the mixed feelings that come with all the “firsts” in a child’s life.


Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Jack who was about to climb his very first beanstalk. He had a fresh haircut and a brand-new book bag.

Even though his friends in the neighbourhood had climbed this same beanstalk almost every day last year, this was Jack’s first day and he was a little nervous. So was his mother.

Early in the morning she brought him to the foot of the beanstalk. She talked encouragingly to Jack about all the fun he would have that day and how nice his giant would be. She reassured him that she would be back to pick him up at the end of the day. For a moment they stood together, silently holding hands, gazing up at the beanstalk. To Jack it seemed much bigger than it had when his mother had pointed it out on the way to the store last week. His mother thought it looked big too. She swallowed. Maybe she should have held Jack out a year…

Jack’s mother straighten his shirt one last time, patted his shoulder and smiled down at him. She promised to stay and wave while he started climbing.

Jack didn’t say a word.

He walked forward, grabbed a low-growing stem and slowly pulled himself up to the first leaf. He balanced there for a moment and then climbed more eagerly to the second leaf, then the third and soon he had vanished into a high tangle of leaves and stems with never a backwards glance at his mother.

She stood alone at the bottom of the beanstalk, gazing up at the spot where Jack had disappeared. There was no rustle, no movement, no sound to indicate that he was anywhere inside.

“Sometimes,” she thought, “it’s harder to be the one who waves good-bye than it is to be the one who climbs the beanstalk.”

She wondered how Jack would do. Would he miss her? How would he behave? Did his giant understand that little boys sometimes acted silly when they felt unsure? She fought off the urge to spring up the stalk after Jack and maybe duck behind a bean to take a peek at how he was doing.

“I’d better not. What if he saw me?” She new Jack was really old enough to handle this on his own. She reminded herself that, after all, this was thought to be an excellent beanstalk and that everyone said his giant was not only kind but had outstanding qualifications.

“It’s not so much that I’m worried about him,” she thought, rubbing the back of her neck. “It’s just that he’s growing up and I’m going to miss him.”

Jack’s mother turned to leave. “Jack’s going to have lots of bigger beanstalks to climb in his life.” she told herself.

“Today’s the day he starts practicing for them…
And today’s the day I start practicing something too: Cheering him on and waving good-bye.”

You may have read it before, but I never have. Please share among educators and families. This is what we want our children to be: confident, capable and independent. Able to meet and overcome the challenges they will face…now and in the future.

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