Sibling Assignment # 65: Tender, Gentle Heart

The sibling assignment this week came from Raymond Pert. "What do you understand about The Wizard of Oz as an adult that you didn't understand as a child?"
Raymond Pert's will be here and Silver Valley Girl's will be here.
"I'd be tender, I'd be gentle
And awful sentimental
Regarding love and art
I'd be friends with the sparrows
And the boy that shoots the arrows
If I only had a heart."
-EH Harburg
sung by The Tin Woodsman in "The Wizard of Oz"

As a child Judy Garland was my idol so I paid more attention to Dorothy. I knew all the words to " Over the Rainbow" and " We're Off to See the Wizard" and I was pretty good at clicking my shoes and saying, " There's no place like home." The scarecrow always stuck in my mind more as a child that her other two friends. Perhaps I could relate to a scarecrow and the tin woodsman seemed somehow different or odd. The lion certainly provided some comic relief that was needed during a few scary parts of the film, but again it was harder to relate to a scared, talking lion.

As an adult I do relate more to the Tin Woodsman. One scene that always sticks in my mind is when he has tears running down his cheek and feels emotion again. In my early adult life I wore my heart on my sleeve and cried over everything. I was sentimental over old birthday cards and favorite songs. I felt gentle love for puppies in a commercial on TV. I sobbed when I said good-bye to friends at summer camp or college roommates.

Because of a series of events in my adult life I forced myself to stuff those tender, gentle feelings inside. I didn't trust myself and thought sometimes if I started crying I may never stop. I almost had to walk away from students as the year ended because I knew I would tear up and sob at saying good-bye. When I met somebody I really liked I was afraid to get too close. I couldn't sort out my emotional self. I often felt a sadness that I couldn't shake when I left home after a family gathering.

The lesson I have learned as an older adult is the importance of having heart. I trust myself again to show those emotions and not fear a crying breakdown. I am able to show my love through simple gestures or big demonstrations. I can love my pets unconditionally, but am prepared when I have to say good-bye. At least five people in my life have lost husbands or fathers in the last month. Rather than feeling sadness and falling in a black hole for them I now find ways to show love whether it be simple words, a promise for dinner out, or a card. Writing has helped me sort those emotions, whether with a journal, a blog post, or a memoir piece.

I surround myself with people that accept me unconditionally. I try to remove myself from situations when people are hateful or negative. I care deeply for the well-being of my students, and "I am tender, I am gentle" and have a better balance in what I can handle. I put my heart into the beauty of nature, art, the written word, a circle of people, my pets, my faith, and photography.

When you knock on my chest now it doesn't sound hollow. I may still have an emotional breakdown when a student loses a mother or my dog is injured, but the upside of that is the warm feeling that comes when my husband kisses me good-bye in the morning and says he likes that color combination I are wearing or when my sister says thanks for helping her daughters surprise her for Mother's Day.

I just found out when my husband was in elementary school he played in the Wizard of Oz on stage. What part did he play? Of course, the Tin Woodsman! Take a few minutes and enjoy once again "If I Only Had a Heart" from the original movie.


  1. This was a lovely reflection. Thank you for sharing. I could relate to your finding heart as you got older.

  2. Love your post. I always was impressed with the tin woodsmen gentleness.
    when I was little it was all about those scary ugly monkeys. I'm still scared of them

    Did you know that the Ray Bolger was originally cast as the Woodsmen? He asked to be the scare crow instead. Buddy Ebson was then cast as the woodmen, but had some sort of allergic reaction to the costume.

  3. Oh My! I loved your thoughts on tears and heart. Loved watching the film clip. That brought back such memories, smiles, and a tear!

  4. I love this play/movie too. Our oldest daughter, Kylie, played Dorothy in high school drama club, so it holds extra special memories for me :) I'd love to send you a photo if I had your e-mail.
    This is a beautiful essay on emotional growth and change through the years.
    You certainly have a sweet, soft heart..a wonderful attribute for a teacher. Your students are lucky (and your family, friends and pets too) :)


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