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Eight Lessons I Learned From Pippi Longstocking Eight Lessons I Learned From Pippi Longstocking

Eight Lessons I Learned From Pippi Longstocking

by Deena Shanker
June 18, 2013


If you don’t recognize Ms. Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim's Daughter (aka “Pippi”) Longstocking from her books, then you may know the wisecracking nine-year-old from her television shows, cartoons, movies, or the current Central Park puppet show. First appearing in 1945 as a storybook character created by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking has been taking children on wild adventures for almost seventy years. But age hasn’t slowed her down a bit, and her life lessons are just as applicable today as they ever were. Below are a few of my personal favorites.
 
Don't be afraid to make a mess sometimes.

When I cook, I tend to clean as I go to avoid dealing with a sink full of dishes later. Not Pippi, though. When Pippi Longstocking cooks, there are broken eggs on the floor, flour on the ceiling, and plenty of both on the chef herself. So next time I make dinner, I’ll take a page out of Pippi’s book and just let the batter fly where it will. Because sometimes you need to let things get messy, whether you’re making pancakes or just enjoying a Friday night. 
 
Find joy in the mundane.

Maybe the reason Pippi is so happy to make a mess is because she knows cleaning it up will be just as fun. At Villa Villekulla, “Scrubbing Day” isn’t about chores, it’s an excuse to strap on some scrubby brush shoes, slide through bubbly soap, and, of course, sing a ridiculous song. Because at Pippi’s house, scrubbing day is a favorite day, “because on scrubbing day, everything gets wet!”
 
Save the animals.
 
I once had a boyfriend ask me whom I would save first from a shark attack—him or my dog. I think he already knew the answer. Like Pippi Longstocking, I treat my pets like family. And just like Pippi saves her monkey, Mr. Nelson, and her horse, Alfonso (although in different versions he has different names) from a storm on the high seas while the ship’s crew floats away, I too would probably reach for Barley before anyone else.
 
Know when you’ve taken the joke too far.
 
You know that moment when you realize your hilarious, if slightly off-color, joke has crossed the line from risqué to offensive? Follow Pippi’s example and admit your mistake. After face-planting into the dessert cake at her neighbors’ house, Pippi admits to the mother wiping the icing from her eyes, “I think I went a little far.”
 
Dress for yourself and no one else.  
 
When it comes to fashion, Pippi isn’t looking to fit in. Bouncing around town dressed like a textbook ragamuffin, Pippi’s also a pro at the high-fashion/low-fashion combination. She adds plenty of gold bangles, fun hats, and even an occasional frilly dress to her patched up romper when the mood strikes her. And I still kick myself when I forget her advice on footwear: “Always leave room for your toes to wiggle.”
 
If you’re going to have a parade in your own honor, make sure it involves giving away ice cream to orphans.
 
How do you celebrate yourself without looking like an egomaniac? Just when you thought Pippi was getting a little too sure of herself, marching through the center of town on horseback, singing her own theme song, and declaring the day to be “Pippi Longstocking Day,” she switches gears, using her gold coins to buy ice cream and candy for the local orphans. It’s a good lesson to learn: If you want attention, get it for doing something good. 
 
Get creative with your talents.
 
It can be easy to pigeon hole yourself into a profession or industry, but take a cue from Pippi and think about how you can apply the skills you already have to achieve new goals. Case in point: Pippi’s stunning spinning ability at first seemed like just a really good way to dry off, but it turned out to also be the key to building her own airplane. By holding a broom over her and spinning at warped speed, Pippi creates a propeller effect that flies her, Annika and Tommy out of town just as the orphanage is about to trap her.
 
Above all, believe in yourself.
 
Self-doubt isn’t in Pippi’s otherwise extensive repertoire of skills. Even when she’s running from the law, Pippi tells everyone that she’ll “always come out on top.” Her self-assurance gives her the ability to walk on walls and ceilings, save children from burning buildings, and outsmart the adults trying to keep her down.
 
If we could each have just a pinch of Pippi Longstocking’s confidence, there would be no limit to what we could do.
 
Image via wikimedia commons
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