The Sour and the Sweet

Foreword by Cindy Lapinski, Director of Middle School.  Story by Defne Doken ’24.

The term ‘growth mindset’ is regularly discussed in the Middle School. We talk with the students about what it means to have a growth mindset in relation to learning and trying new things. According to Carol Dweck, “those with a growth mindset believe their talents and abilities can be developed. Fixed mindsets see every encounter as a test of their worthiness. Growth mindsets see the same encounters as opportunities to improve.” The following story was written by one of our students to illustrate the idea of growth mindset as part of a class assignment.

Doken_Defne_1831081The Sour and the Sweet

Once upon a time, in a dark, leafy green forest lived a rabbit. The rabbit’s name was Cocos nucifera, Coco for short. The rabbit was creamy white with chocolate brown spots and soft, almond eyes. One day, the rabbit became hungry. It nuzzled the grass for a bit, searching for bits of edible clover and then looked up, perplexed. A bright, lemon yellow parakeet had flown onto a branch overlooking Coco.

“Who are you?” asked Coco.

“A hero,” said the bird.

“What have you done?” Coco inquired.

“I have saved the world from mosquitos.”

“Have you, now?”

“I have defeated their ruler, Culicidae.”

“How have you done this?”

“Well, first I saw his servants, buzzing irritatingly around the pond. Then, as I caught a glimpse of him and his beady, little eyes, I decided enough is enough. I flew over and told him there was a juicy pear in the depths of the pond. The stupid little thing flew over and drowned. Such a talent I have, such a talent.”

The bird seemed too full of himself.

“May I ask your name, bird?” Coco wondered.

“Oh, not bird. I am Sire Citrus the Great.”

“How elegant. Well, I must go. Please visit me with more heroic stories.”

At that, Coco wandered off in search of fresh vegetables. However, Sire Citrus the Great was left with a thought that nagged at him.

“Does she think that I am a joke? I must be more convincing for anyone to believe I can achieve such greatness without being born like so. What if the real Culicidae comes back from his Starbucks run? I will be ruined!” thought Sire Citrus the Great.

So the worried bird flew away in search of more ways to appear brave. Meanwhile, Coco was sitting by the edge of the pond where Culicidae was supposedly slain; however, as she looked toward the “former” mosquito nest, she saw Culicidae sitting on his throne made of an apple core, sipping a cappuccino.

“How could it be? Culicidae back from the dead?”

“Back from the dead? I’ve only just entered my senior years!” Culicidae cried.

“You should have been slain by Sire Citrus the Great? Was this…was this a lie?”

“The Great Citrus who?”

“The heroic yellow parakeet!”

“You mean Melopsittacus? The boastful bird who believes that all who appear dumb are cursed forever?


Melopsittacus roamed the forest and found a stone by the edge of some shrubbery. Suddenly, he had an idea. He collected some blueberries and peeled the skin off with his beak. Smearing the blueberries against the rock gave it a navy tinge. Everyone would think he had a magic blue rock!

“Sire, or should I say Melopsittacus!” Coco suddenly cried, running up to the bird in the midst of his rock painting.

“Oh no! You have found out!” Melopsittacus shrieked.

However, Coco’s tone became softer.

“Melopsittacus, you do not have to lie to be something you aspire to be.”

“Yes, I do! No one can be a hero unless they are born with strength and courage. And a bird like me? No hero has ever been a measly parakeet!”

“Melopsittacus, if you tell yourself you are brave, you will be brave. If you tell yourself you have courage, you will have courage. You have to make yourself believe, not others.”

“Magical rabbit, I am simply a lying old failure. I cannot do great things.”

“Say you are brave.” Coco told the bird.

“I am brave.” The bird said.

Suddenly, the rock Melopsittacus had painted began to glow.

“Have hope and never give up,” Coco said as she hopped away.