The Tortoise, Hare and Monkey – A Tot’s version


Most of us are familiar with the stories of The Hare and the Tortoise; and The Monkey, Turtle and the Banana Tree. From each, in their simplicity, we draw lessons against laziness and its consequences, of being slow but deliberate and its rewards, and being critical in making decisions where the obvious is not always the correct way to go (where ‘Tuso man daw ang matsing, napaglalangan din’ – A monkey maybe shrewd but could also be outsmarted).

So, what happens when a toddler who loves both stories spouts her version of both stories

My friend, Ron Parcon, shares one of his granddaughter’s version after he told and retold a million and one times the two stories to her, Cassi (5), and her brother, Alby (3).

Nonetheless, before we go to Cassi’s version, it is prudent that we reiterate the stories.

The Tortoise and Hare is one of Aesop’s fables. The story goes that a hare ridicules a slow-moving Tortoise. The Tortoise challenges him to a race. With his logical speed, the hare leaves the tortoise far behind. Cocky and confident of winning, the hare takes a nap midway through the race. When the Hare awakens however, he finds that the tortoise, crawling slowly but deliberate and steady, has arrived before him.

It is not the tortoise’s conduct in challenging a bully that is emphasized in the story but the hare’s foolish over-confidence. The lesson’s peg is that ‘many people have good natural abilities which are ruined by idleness; on the other hand, sobriety, zeal and perseverance can prevail over indolence. In Ecclesiastes 9:11, it says, ‘the race is not to the swift’.

The story involving a monkey, turtle, and a banana tree is a Filipino folklore. The story, in short, tells of a monkey and a turtle splitting a banana tree where the monkey, thinking he was smart, chooses the top half because it has already leaves and bananas. They both plant their parts. Eventually, the monkey’s part withers and the turtle’s prospers.

When the turtle’s tree, however, grows and bears fruits, the turtle is not able to climb to savor the bananas. He calls the monkey to help him so he could eat the fruits. The monkey obliges but just stays up the tree and finishes off the bananas without sharing any with the turtle.

Deprived of his bananas and angry, the turtle, while the monkey naps up the tree, gathers bamboo stakes and sticks them around the tree. Pretending, he shouts for help and startles the monkey who falls off the tree. The monkey gets hurt, punctured with the sticks.

Angry, the monkey runs after the turtle who he easily catches. The monkey then said that he will bring the turtle up the highest peak and throw him down for him to crush to death. The turtle said, “go ahead as I will not die from you doing that because I have a hard shell but whatever else you do, please do not throw me in the water for I will surely drown.”

Thinking that throwing the turtle in the water will surely kill the turtle, the monkey does that.

The turtle then survive and swims, mocking the monkey for his stupidity.

So, here is Cassi’s version:

A rabbit and a turtle had a race. Confident that he could easily win the race, the rabbit, halfway, decides to sleep nearby a banana tree. The turtle not only passes the rabbit slowly but also uproots the banana tree and pulls it with him through the distance. At some point, the turtle meets the monkey and decides to split the tree with him. Sly, the monkey gets the top part and plants it, but it withers. As in the original story, the turtle plants his bottom part and it flourishes. As in the original story, the turtle calls the monkey who obliges to climb the tree and eats all the bananas without sharing with the turtle. As in the original story, the turtle gets angry and sticks the bamboos stakess which hurt the monkey when he falls down.

At about this time, the rabbit wakes up and realizes that the turtle had outrun him, and he races, hoping that he could still catch the turtle. It was at a nick of time that he catches the turtle at the same time as the monkey.

Both angry with the turtle, they brought him to a mountain top and decided to throw him off a cliff so he could crush to death below. The turtle says, “go ahead as I will not die from you doing that because I have a hard shell but whatever else you do, please do not throw me in the water for I will surely drown.”

And as in the original stories, the rabbit and the monkey turns out to have been outsmarted by the turtle.

Cassi’s version may have a time lapse anomaly, but one has to admit that the thinking of this 5-year-old could already be gleaned as deep in perception. Interspersing two stories to arrive at her version is not one an adult might easily come out with.

This is especially true when we come across some people like a wife who blurts, “Don’t judge my husband by his book cover” or one who tries to be an inspirational speaker and says, “Behind the success of every man is a woman’s behind.”

Compare to these adults, I will give Cassi a standing ovulation anytime.

Wait I minute, did I write something inappropriate for a kid? I think it’s okay. She will laugh at this if she might read this when she grows up. #