Charlie the Tramp is one of those stories that simply stays fresh and true, decades later. In fact, I’ll bet if you transported back 100, 150, even 200 years, the story would still ring true.
To refresh your memory, Charlie is a youngster in a family of badgers. However, he’s not so enamored of the idea of growing up to be a badger.
Badgers work hard. Charlie’s thought it over, felling trees and building dams, and has decided it’s not for him.
Charlie would rather be a tramp.
At first, his parents and grand parents are taken aback, but his father and grandfather reflect they, too, wanted to be tramps at Charlie’s age, and the decision is made to let Charlie choose his own path.
At first, things go much according to Charlie’s plans. He sleeps outdoors in the fields, under the stars. He does odd jobs at meal times to earn enough for that meal (which his mother is always prepared to provide), and he spends the rest of his time meandering about, enjoying nature and life in general.
He does realize, the first night, there is a sound that is bothering him. Not bothering him in a bad way, he tells his father, it’s a nice sound. But he doesn’t recognize it.
The next night, Charlie hears the sound and decides to follow it. He discovers the sound is a nearby stream – it’s a lovely sound. Charlie wants to be part of that sound, and gets in the water… and starts building a dam of his own.
I love this simply story of a family who give a child the freedom to explore his world (with a little oversight!) where he can discover the inherent enjoyment of doing good work, and taking pride in the results. Charlie discovers in his own time that maybe being a badger (instead of a tramp) isn’t so bad… when you’re ready to be grown up.
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