The Good-Natured Child
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
WERE parents to choose the fairy's birth gift for their child, it would probably be good-nature. For the Good-Natured Child is comfortable to live with, and easy to deal with. The parents anticipate, instead of frequent clashes of will, made less frequent only by avoiding the issue, pleasant companionship, because of the Good-Natured Child's tendency to be happy under all circumstances.
Nor do parents rate good-nature higher than do teachers. The Good-Natured Child is welcome in any class in any school. Popular with his play-mates, too, is the Good-Natured Child. He is like the sunshine that destroys germs of hatred and scatters clouds of ill-temper.
"The world is a happy place !" is the attitude of the Good-Natured Child toward life.
"Everybody is my friend!" is his attitude toward people.
Have we, then, discovered in the Good-Natured Child the Perfect Child? Alas, no! Even good-nature, carried too far, may change from a virtue to a fault.
Look about you at some merely Good-Natured Man. He is comfortable to live with, to be sure, for he never combats your opinions or interferes with your wishes. He is amiable, affectionate and - easy. He is pleasant but also a trifle dull and lazy. His greatest bugbear is "a fuss," his ideal that things shall run smoothly.
He teaches parents and teachers that the Good-Natured Child may need to be pricked to action that is not popular and may gain for him enemies.
His small brother stones the cat. Now, he would never hurt a living creature, but when he finds that his objections meet with obstinacy, he gives in rather than to insist. I suspect the cat would prefer less good-nature.
When he goes to school his good-nature has another bad effect. He lets any child borrow his book, break his pencils and mislay his pen. He is too good-natured to refuse. As a result his lessons are not learned and the teacher is not good-natured.
In the church school he is too ready to give up his chair or his chance to tell the story, or his turn to choose a song.
So the wise mother tries to make her child see that good-nature may mean heartless indifference. She tells him stories of people who were stern and fierce against any one who hurt an animal or a child.
The Good-Natured Child's teacher does not applaud his generosity in gifts and loans, but rather encourages a sense of property rights. The loaned book that was not returned is no excuse for the unlearned lesson.
In the church school the Good-Natured Child is encouraged to take his place, and do his part, and get his rights.
Thus Good-Nature is saved from becoming an-other name for Indolence.