the missing piece meets the big o

The Timeless Work of Shel Silverstein

the missing piece meets the big o

One of the assignments in my fourth grade class was to select, memorize, and present (in front of the entire class) a Shel Silverstein poem from his collection, Where The Sidewalk Ends. I chose the timeless classic, “I’m Being Eaten By a Boa Constrictor“: 

Oh, I’m being eaten by a boa constrictor, by a boa constrictor, a boa constrictor, a boa constrictor, I’m being eaten by a boa constrictor, And I don’t like it – one bit. Well, what do you know? It’s nibblin’ my toe. Oh, gee, it’s up to my knee. Oh, fiddle, it’s up to my middle. Oh, heck, it’s up to my neck. Oh, dread, it’s upmmmmmmfffffff‚Ķ” 

As I type this, I identify that he solidly supported Gen X by ending a poem with “mf”.

All of his children’s books are treasures of imagination and delight, with one exception: The Giving Tree. This book is truly my least favorite book of all time. It is about an enabling, self-sacrificing tree giving everything it has to a self-centered narcissist. It’s a solid lesson in what not to do. The tree should have created a hard boundary after giving the boy an apple. End of story.

However, Silverstein redeemed himself with publishing THE BEST book ever written about healthy, independent relationships: The Missing Piece Meets the Big O. This work of literary perfection promotes the opposite of codependency and is the best illustration (wink wink, nudge, nudge: double entendre) of taking responsibility for oneself and one’s healing. It’s about self-love. It’s about complex, multi-faceted, inter-relational dynamics shared in a simplistic format. It’s inclusive of all humans. It’s about becoming whole. It’s about resiliency. It’s brilliant! 

There could be (and likely are) dissertations on Shel’s work, specifically on the substance of The Missing Piece Meets the Big O

Just as Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss is a standard graduation gift, The Missing Piece Meets the Big O should be required reading for anyone going through puberty, or considering entering puberty, or dating, or thinking about dating, or getting married, or thinking about getting married, or going through a breakup. 

This book is ideal for someone who thinks. 

Or reads. 

Or breathes.

The Missing Piece Meets the Big O reminds us of our potentiality as humans. For when we are shown what’s possible, we open ourselves up to transformation. It’s like magic.



  1. Hey Kara – I stumbled onto this! For what it’s worth, I believe the boy from The Giving Tree is Shel himself. If you read it that way and compare it with his biography and personal behavior up to (and beyond) that point in his life, it might change your perspective. It’s more of a warning and a story of self-realization. The story is really about the boy (Shel, who recognizes his own narcissism), not the tree (I suspect the tree might be “the world” in general from which Shel takes while seeking and failing to find happiness – yet the world outside Shel seems to remain happy, from Shel’s perspective, which Shel himself can’t seem to attain even while taking advantage of that world).

    • From that perspective, it makes complete sense. I still feel it should come with a warning label of some sort!

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