The Three Bears

I decided to write this post after I read an article titled “Non Profit Brand as a Place” written by Tom Peterson. Something in Peterson’s article reminded me of a fairy tale, and that recollection sparked my desire to describe the connection between the fairy tale and recovery from adversity such as brain injury.

In case you are not familiar with the fairy tale, I will provide a summary of the version I heard as a child. My guess is that the story I heard is considerably different than it was originally written and possibly different than it is today.

220px-The_Three_Bears_-_Project_Gutenberg_eText_17034During her journey through the forest, a little girl became lost, hungry, and tired. As she wandered through the forest, she happened upon a house, knocked on the door, but when nobody answered she let herself inside. She walked to the kitchen and saw three bowls of porridge — the porridge in one bowl was too hot, in another it was too cold, and in the third bowl it was just right so she ate it all. As soon as her tummy was full, she walked to another room where she found three chairs. She sat in one chair, but it was too big so she moved to another chair which was also too big. The third chair was just right. However, shortly after she sat in it, the third chair broke. She was now extremely tired and needed to nap so she walked to the bedroom where she saw three beds. The first bed was too hard, the second was too soft, but the third bed was just right so she quickly fell asleep in it.

While the girl was sleeping, the three bears camethree bears by SammyDavis53 at Flickr Creative Commons back to their house. The daddy bear said “someone’s been eating my porridge,” the mommy bear said, “someone’s been eating my porridge too,” and the baby bear said, “someone ate all of my porridge.” During a quick survey of each room in the house, the daddy bear noticed that someone had been sleeping in his bed, the mommy bear noticed that someone had been sleeping in her bed, and the baby bear noticed that someone had been sleeping in its bed and she was still in the bed.

Unfortunately, I cannot remember either the ending or moral of the story. A quick internet search revealed only that the story had changed dramatically over time. I see this as an opportunity to create my own ending and moral. However, this post is about the connection between the fairy tale and recovery from adversity, not the fairy tale itself.

As I see it, the little girl’s journey through the forest is an allegory for recovery from adversity. Everyone knows children should not be alone in the forest. Similarly, people should not be alone during their recovery from brain injury. Even though she tried to correct her original high-risk plan by asking for directions and help, nobody was home and she quickly let herself into the house. She, just like some brain injury patients, does not plan well or make reasonable decisions. Although she does not think there is a problem, those of us who hear the story quickly recognize she needs additional cognitive therapy. When she realizes that the resources available to her are not a perfect fit for her needs (too hot, cold, big, flimsy, hard, and soft), she adapts until she finds what she needs — then falls asleep. Similarly, people who are recovering from brain injury fatigue quickly after minimal tasks.

The purpose of this post is to show the connection between a fairy tale and adversity such as brain injury. I am not advocating for, or justifying, illegal entry, theft, and burglary. I really don’t understand why fairy tales or recent stories (Barefoot Bandit) advocate, promote, sensationalize, and reward illegal behavior with accolades such as fame, Facebook friends, and $1.3 million movie deals.


  • How would you write the end of the story?
  • What other stories do you feel are simply allegories for recovery from adversity?

Thanks to Tom Peterson for writing the article that inspired me to write this post, Arthur Rackham whose 1837 illustrations I included in this post, SammyDavis53 whose picture on Flickr Creative Commons I included in this post, and all the other people who made it possible for me to create and publish this post.


    1. Esther,

      If there were a prize for most unexpected potential ending, you would most likely win the prize. I cannot read the artist’s name, but I would like to thank the artist for creating an illustration that will undoubtedly bring smiles to many people.

  1. I came across a video that features Rufus, a poet dog. If you decide to watch the video, click the following link:

    then advance the video to (3.14) after the advertisement. One possible ending begins at (11:02) where Goldilocks offers to mitigate damages.

    After all, the door was unlocked and her visit was not premeditated.

  2. In the past, I replied to comments left by other readers. However, this time I decided to write a comment then see who else replies. Since I could not remember the fairy tale ending, I decided to create a few possible endings.

    1. The little girl is arrested for criminal trespass and sentenced to 90 days in Juvenile Hall. She is released early due to overcrowding.

    2. A negotiation between daddy bear and the parents of the little girl results in a long-term babysitting gig whereby the little girl pays restitution for the missing porridge, broken chair, and messy room.

    3. Mommy bear feels sorry for the little girl and escorts her through the enchanted forest back to her house where the mother of the little girl and mommy bear hatch a plan to become co-conspirators in a multi-level marketing scam.

    4. Baby bear believes the little girl is a stuffed doll. You know what happens next.

    5. After saving Snow White, the Huntsman begins searching for the missing little girl. This action packed thriller is rated PG-13 for its use of strong language, violence, and reference to multiple illegal substances.

    6. Upon waking up and seeing three bears, the little girl leaps out the second floor bedroom window in terror, miraculously lands safely, but in her haste to get away she forgets to look both ways before crossing the road.

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