Many people have heard about Miss Muffet’s terrifying experience, which would have been wasted if she hadn’t learned a life-changing lesson.
“Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet, eating her curds and whey. Along came a spider who sat down beside her and frightened Miss Muffet away.”
As a child, I never questioned the meaning of this poem. What is a tuffet, anyway. William Denslow, the author, must have known, but he died in 1915. In my mind, it’s a padded stool just high enough and wide enough to perfectly fit little Miss Muffet’s behind as she fed her face with curds and whey.
Yuch. What are “curds and whey”? Today, we call it “cottage cheese.” Okay, that’s different. I like cottage cheese.
You may have never known Miss Muffet’s first name, but I’m sure it was the same Mary who was quite contrary and people wondered what made her garden grow. She had a little lamb that followed her wherever she went. The lamb even followed her to school one day.
On the day of this poem, Mary was sitting on her tuffet, eating curds and whey, which was the last place anybody would expect her to be. Where was she? In the library, obviously, because you would never find a tuffet in the dining room or kitchen. The room, which was lined with books, was downstairs on the far side of the house. There, nobody would see her sneak this delicious before-dinner snack. Mom would be angry if she knew, but Mary couldn’t wait for dinner. She was hungry right now.
The sweet curds melted in her mouth, and she was about to dip her spoon into the bowl for another big bite when she noticed the thread dangling from the ceiling. She followed the thread downward from the chandelier until she saw the black furry beast with eight legs crawling in beside her.
All in one motion, Mary screamed, jumped a foot off the floor, and threw up her hands. The bowl went airborne, shattered when it hit the hardwood, and splattered cottage cheese across the rug. In three giant steps, she was at the door, about to run down the hall when she stopped and looked back. What a mess.
The mess was a problem. She would have to clean it up. How long would that take? Get the broom, the mop, the dustpan. Also, water and a scrub brush to clean the rug. All because of that big spider.
Where was the spider? She had to focus her eyes to even see it. Really? This was amazing. Before, that spider was the size of her hand, and now it was no bigger than a pencil eraser.
The moral to this story: When problems slip in beside you, they appear huge. But don’t run. If you turn and face them, you’ll find they aren’t nearly as big as you thought they were.