A Family RTW Travel Adventure (2008-2009)
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The Tao of SpongeBob

SpongeBobSlowly I am beginning to realize there is more to preparing for a round the world trip than logistics and financial planning.

There is an emotional dimension too, as we prepare to step out of our community and away from our friends and family for a year. This became most apparent to me as I watched my daughter struggle to tell her best friend about our trip.

I am also learning that the emotional preparation for our year away can be as challenging for friends who remain at home.

Last week I was fortunate to read an essay that one of my son’s best friends wrote for his sixth grade English class. In the essay he explained his reaction to the news of our trip and drew an inspired lesson from one of Nickelodeon’s wisest characters: SpongeBob Squarepants.

Here’s the essay Dana Cook, age 12, shared with us.

Dana and Conor
Dana and Conor

Hey, Conor. Do you remember that episode of Chowder when Chowder really wants to try the medaled eggs? That was a funny one.

Anyway, in that episode, believe it or not, there was a lesson that can apply to the real world. In every comic book, cartoon, movie, or any story really, there will be a lesson.

In English class, we watched an episode of SpongeBob called “Just One Bite”. Yeah, I know you envy my English class. In this episode, boring old Squidward sits behind his cash register like he always does and says that he has never had a Krabby Patty and never will.

Fun-loving, happy, silly SpongeBob the fry cook hears this and begins to have some internal conflict about it. He is flabbergasted that Squidward never ate a Krabby Patty, and he makes up his mind to get Squidward to try one.

By the way, when SpongeBob’s personality is expressed like that, it is called characterization.

SpongeBob’s internal conflict becomes so great that he has to act. He loves Krabby Patties so much, and he feels loyal to them. His actions become some of the main events in the story.

SpongeBob feels so determined to get Squidward to eat a Krabby Patty that he follows him around everywhere–he pops out of the cash register, he jumps out of the sink, he springs out of the trashcan, and he even follows Squidward to the bathroom.

The external conflict is pretty much what I said before–SpongeBob’s actions to get Squidward to eat a Krabby Patty. He even handcuffed himself to Squidward just to make him eat one, causing Squidward to be annoyed, and that’s the external conflict.

SpongeBob is so focused on the thought that everyone is the same and everyone has the same likes that he goes out and does all these crazy things. The external conflict causes Squidward to eat the Krabby Patty, and that’s the plot.

If you have a problem and it’s been going around in your head for a while now, you’re going to want to do something, right? That’s how SpongeBob felt in this episode. He had a problem and he did something. His internal conflict pushed him to do things, which caused the external conflict.

That is sort of how I feel about your trip around the world.

When you first told me you were going away for a whole year, I thought it was the dumbest thing in the world. That was my internal conflict. I guess I felt jealous and I started doing stuff like arguing with people. That was the external conflict.

But after you told me all the cool stuff you were going to get to see like Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands, I started to get excited. I decided that I will travel around the world when I grow up.

SpongeBob thought that everyone should like Krabby Patties. I thought everyone should stay here.

It’s kind of silly to think that a cartoon about a fun-loving sea sponge that tries to get his neighbor, who is a squid, to eat a Krabby Patty could have a lesson in it. But Squidward finally admits that he actually likes Krabby Patties.

That’s a universal theme, you shouldn’t put something down until you try it because you might have to admit that it was pretty good.


1 Rick James { 02.20.08 at 3:27 am }

Wow! Grade six… Great job!
Our five year old neighbor and good friend is much less forgiving of my 13 year old daughter leaving town for a year. She regularly demands of her parents that, eneough is enough; and she wants Alex back home RIGHT NOW! 🙂

2 Marjory { 02.20.08 at 9:06 am }

That’s pretty darn insightful for a12 year old.
And I’ve been feeling pretty darn Krabby ever since I heard, too.

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