Growing up, it seemed that every single school day the weather was too rainy or too cold (by south Mississippi standards) for recess, our elementary school kept us inside to watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I estimate that I viewed that movie–the original one, with Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka–no less than ten times as a child. And I love it still.
A few years ago, I decided it was high time that I read the book of this same title. Since then, I’ve read numerous books by Roald Dahl–only now, I’m reading them aloud to my boys: Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Twits (quite weird, if I do say so), and we listened aloud to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator on CD; we also recently enjoyed Matilda on CD while riding around in our van. Some people call that “car schooling.” This spring, my sons and I memorized a Roald Dahl poem together: The Dentist and the Crocodile. I searched high and low for a boy-suitable poem, one that would be engaging and funny and not about flowers.
Last year, I had us learn a lovely piece of poetry from the Victorian era entitled “Buttercups and Daisies.” We still practice it on occasion, though sometimes my sons are tempted to replace “pretty flowers” with “poopy flowers.” Boys. Still, poetry we shall learn! So, “The Dentist and the Crocodile”–although it’s lengthy, my boys enjoy it, and so do I.
My children are being exposed to classic literature and imaginative story telling when we enjoy these books and poems. But I learned something for myself from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when I read it on my own…something from Willy Wonka himself.
If you know the story, you recall the winners of the golden tickets being ushered into the fantastical world of Willy Wonka’s candy factory. As Mr. Wonka leads them on the tour, he takes them to see the square candies that look round.
“Impossible!” the parents cry. “It can’t be!” the children claim. All the visitors on this tour of the chocolate factory express incredulity that even Mr. Wonka could produce square candies that look round. But he insists that he will indeed show them if they will simply wait.
When the group arrives at the room where these candies live (they certainly seem to be alive), each person looks through a little window–and sees square candies that look round. Cubes of confection with eyes roving to and fro, looking back forth, from corner to corner, eyes looking all around–square candies that look round.
Now, all the ticket winners and their guests exclaim, “Oh!” and “Will you look at that!” Their disbelief evaporates as they see what they never imagined they could see.
When God asks me to follow Him to the special hall where He keeps the square candies that look round, I hope I will heed the invitation and join Him. That I will show the patience required to follow Him in trust, waiting to see what He has in store. And I hope at least some of it will contain chocolate.