Excerpt from Fables and the Art of Leadership
Everyone in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe is excitedly preparing for King Friday’s upcoming picnic. Lady Aberlin is hur- rying about preparing her contribution and listing all the things she still needs to do. Daniel Tiger slows her down long enough to say, in his shy way, that he would like to go to the picnic with her. She agrees to come by to pick him up after she finishes her errands.
Daniel keeps himself busy while he waits for Lady Aberlin to come back for him. Several neighbors pass by on the way to the picnic. When they ask him why he isn’t coming to the picnic, he explains that he is waiting for a friend. Time passes and the trickle of passers-by slows down. Daniel thinks it must surely be time to go, so he puts his things away in readiness. Then he waits and he waits and he waits. It has become very quiet in the Neighborhood. Daniel is getting worried.
When Mr. McFeely stops by and asks why Daniel hasn’t left for the picnic, Daniel explains that he is still waiting for Lady Aberlin. Mr. McFeely invites Daniel to come along with him.
Poor Daniel is concerned that if he goes with Mr. McFeely, Lady Aberlin might come by and be worried when he is gone, and yet, down deep he is afraid that she has forgotten him.
Mr. McFeely calls the castle to find out if Lady Aberlin is there. Indeed, she is, and when Mr. McFeely reminds her about Daniel, she feels terrible and says she will come straight back to Daniel’s house. Soon, she rushes in saying, “I’m really sorry, Daniel.” “Are you? Are you really?” Daniel asks her sadly. Lady Aberlin acknowledges to Daniel that she did indeed forget her promise to pick him up. She also acknowledges that she knows that it feels awful to be forgotten. Daniel wants to know why she forgot him. Well, her only explana- tion is that she was hurrying around, getting her errands done, and it slipped her mind.
“Has being forgotten ever happened to you?” Daniel asks. Lady Aberlin stops to think and remembers that, yes, once when she was a little girl and it was her birthday, her best friend forgot to come to the party. “Were you mad at your friend for forgetting?” Daniel asks. Lady Aberlin explains that she was not actually mad, that what she felt was deep disappointment. “Did your friend forget you because she was mad at you?” Daniel asks. “No,” Lady Aberlin says, “My friend didn’t miss the party because she was mad. She just forgot.”
Daniel presses for an explanation. “But, why did you forget me?” he asks again.
“Does it make you feel like we’re not really friends when you hear that I just forgot to come and pick you up?” she asks.
“Yes,” Daniel blurts out, “I feel that we are not really friends if you can just forget about me.”
When Lady Aberlin starts to apologize again, Daniel stops her saying that he feels better because they had a good talk. “I’m ready to go to the castle now.” Daniel says. “I’m ready too,” says Lady Aberlin.
The picnic is a wonderful time. When King Friday invites each person to put his or her own words to music, Queen Sara Saturday sings the following song:
There are many ways to say I love you There are many ways to say I care about you Many ways, many ways, many ways to say I love you . . .
Each neighbor takes a turn singing about the different ways to say “I love you.” There is the sharing way; there is the “letting someone play with something that you like” way; there is the listening way. When it is Daniel’s turn, he sings about how important it is to take time to really understand how another person feels. Daniel says that is an important way to say “I love you.”