This is Part II of an eight-part series of the same title. For Part I, see Oct. 19, 1911, for Part III see Nov. 12, 1911, for Part IV see Nov. 19, 1911, for 1st half of Part V see Nov. 26, 1911 and for second half of Part V see Dec. 3, 1911, for Part VI see Dec. 10, 1911., and for Part 7, see Dec. 17, 1911.
This series was compiled and published as What Every Mother Should Know, (New York, 1914).
HOW SIX LITTLE CHILDREN WERE TAUGHT THE TRUTHPart II--The Flowers, Mr. and Mrs. Buttercup, Their Home and Children.
Little 5-year-old Bobby sat playing in the sand pile one lovely afternoon in May, and, judging by the glimpses his mother had of him through the open door of their cottage, his mind was to all appearances intent on making a sand fish perfect. For in and out the damp sand was thrown from the pile to the fish mold many times, until at last being perfect, at least to his satisfaction, he got up and ran to find his mother, who was busy within the small two-room shack where they were living for the summer.
He caught hold of her apron to attract her attention, and said: "Mother, where did I come from?"
Needless to say, his mother was greatly surprised at this question, just at that time, for she had not the faintest idea that his thoughts were on anything but the perfection of that sand fish. However, she quickly recovered from her surprise and taking his little face between her hands, said:
"Bobby, dear, that is the most wonderful secret in all the world, and if you are quite sure you can keep this secret and only talk about it to father and mother, I'll tell you all about it."
The curly head bobbed up and down in answer to this and as his eyes grew big and bright, he answered:
"Do tell me the secret mother, I'll never tell."
Then she told him that as soon as the dishes were put away, she would take him for a walk in the woods and first show him where the baby flowers come from, where the mother kept them when they were baby seeds and also tell him how the father and mother flower gave life to the little baby seeds, which afterward grew into the lovely flowers we see all about us.
Bobby's mother now regretted that she had not begun earlier to tell this story of the flower to Bobby. For she realized that had she done this then, now when he had reached the stage of development where he was curious about his own being, she could at once have taken up the story of his own creation, and, of course, referred back to the story of the creation of the lower species. This would have simplified matters greatly. However, she decided it could never be too late and the easiest and quickest way, even now, was to begin with the flowers.
It now occurred to Bobby's mother that to teach her child alone the truths of Nature would be a most fruitless task; for in playing with his companions, they would undo all her work unless they, too, were taught the truths, and in the same way.
She consequently set about gathering in the children of the neighborhood with whom Bobby played. She explained to the mothers what she was about to do. Most of them strongly objected to their boys learning these things which they considered of interest only to grown-ups. But five of the mothers consented, and seemed delighted to have their children taught the truths in this most beautiful and interesting way.
Accordingly, she took five little children, together with her own, ranging in age from five to six and one-half years and started in the woods to hunt for the common wild flowers. Soon they were scrambling over boulders and fallen trees in search of mountain pinks, violets, buttercups, anemones, etc., calling and shouting to each other at each new find, their faces bright and happy with the glow of health. It was a picture never to be forgotten; and as they gathered around Bobby's mother, who was seated on a most covered, fallen tree, they received their first lesson.
As the buttercup was a little early - those on this particular outing being the first ones found of the season - they naturally made it the most popular flower and so it became logically the first family to be studied.
They were told that the whole buttercup, as they held it, was the Buttercup House whose color was yellow, and that inside the house, on the petals, was the Buttercup Family.
"Is there a father?" asked one, "and a mother?" asked another.
"Yes, indeed; there must be a father and mother if there are to be any seeds," was the reply.
Then they were told that all forms of plant life have but one object and that object is to reproduce their kind --"to make more flowers."
They were told that the flowers have reproductive organs--"parts that make more flowers"--called pistils and stamen.
The pistils we called the "mothers" because at the bottom of the thin tube are the ovules or seeds. The pistils were examined carefully and the very top or stamen was found to be very sticky. "Why?" asked the children. But they were told they must wait and find out about the father before they found out why the mother was sticky.
Now attention was again called to the seeds lying within the pistil of mother, and the fact that they were not developed yet. "Why?" Again we must wait to learn something about the father.
Now we come to the stamen, or "father." This is a slender thread-like fiber which has at its end a little case or sac which contains a very fine powder-like substance, called the pollen.
In most of the flowers there are several stamen and one pistil; but in the buttercup, there were several of each - so that the Buttercup House contained several families, the children were told.
Now to come back to the fathers, or stamens, and the tiny sacs containing the pollen. This pollen is a very important part of the growing of all flowers. The children were asked to name some of the flowers which they knew that had this powder on them. Answer came in the name of golden rod, wild rose, cherry blossom and many others.
Now it was explained that this pollen from the stamen, or father, must get into the pistil or mother, and reach the ovules or seeds, or the seeds cannot grow and develop into new plants. And as this process of developing the seed is the one object of plant life, we must see how they go about accomplishing this object.
This we shall do next week.