Little Drum

Fostering the strength and resiliency of Indigenous people worldwide…

Mrs. Murphy

This is an excerpt from a chapter of my new book: Hope, Faith & Empathy.

Currently available as part of Pre Launch sale

Mrs. Murphy


             “Oh no, you have Mrs. Murphy for homeroom. The horror on Anna’s face, my best friend’s older sister, frightened me. Who was this Mrs. Murphy? And why was she to be feared?

The next day was the first day of grade eight and of course, my first homeroom with Mrs. Murphy. She didn’t seem so scary.  I actually thought she was kind of funny. She introduced us to Harry, a small goldfish who lived in a round circular bowl. She informed us that each of us would have our weekly turn of feeding Harry and that his life was in our hands.  She’d had more than one floating goldfish in her history as a teacher, and made it clear that she did not want Harry to be added to that list. So we all took our turns feeding him and for those who sometimes forgot, there was always someone in the class to remind them that we didn’t want a floating Harry. When we came back from Thanksgiving long weekend, Harry was now swimming in a larger bowl.  When we came back from Christmas he was in a larger bowl again, and after Spring Break we came to find Harry living in his very own aquarium.  Few of us had noticed the changes in bowls until the aquarium and even fewer had noticed that Harry had grown.

On that first day back after Spring Break, Mrs. Murphy began telling us in her soft voice that demanded respect and listening ears, that goldfish grew as big as their environment would allow for.  So if a goldfish lived in a small bowl they would always remain small; when put in a bigger bowl they would grow until they fit that bowl to the maximum.  She walked over to Harry’s new aquarium and asked us to have a good look and see if we noticed anything different.  Mrs. Murphy paused as she watched each of us ooh and ahh over Harry as if we were seeing him for the first time.

“He’s bigger,” said one classmate. “He must have taken ‘roids over the break, ‘cuz he got really big really fast,” said one of the jocks in our class.

Mrs. Murphy laughed at this response.  “Actually, Harry did not take steroids over Spring Break,” said Mrs. Murphy with a smile and giggle in her voice.  “Every time we moved him into a bigger bowl, he grew.  We just never really noticed.  His growth happened over time, and we never brought our attention to his growing little body.”

She told us that each of us were exactly like Harry. We will grow into whatever size goldfish bowl we allow ourselves to create.  She clarified by saying, “Each of you will have experiences in your lives that will expand your goldfish bowl, and a few of you will search out experiences in life to either consciously or unconsciously expand your goldfish bowl.”  ‘Consciously?’ What did that mean? I really didn’t know what Mrs. Murphy was talking about, but I knew that what she was saying had butterflies flying in my stomach.   The same sense of excitement and thrill of anticipation was pulsing through my body as being up to bat with bases loaded.  I knew one day I would have to ask her what she meant by ‘consciously’, but not today, not in front of the class.


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