Friday, September 12, 2008

All Children, except one, grow up...

My kids go through "phases" the way other people go through newspapers.
Yes, newspapers.
Quickly moving through them, highlighting the best details, pausing to savor the best parts, and then tossing it aside like so much birdcage liner, to move on to the next thing. And the next. And the next.
We've been through trains, pirates, muppets, Spiderman, Indiana Jones, Spiderwick, Batman, pirates, Narnia, pirates ... and now, I think we may be embarking upon Peter Pan. Which, of course...and fortunately for Asher... still includes pirates.
Right now, Gabe is in that rare state between phases ... where he hasn't yet decided if the phase he's considering jumping into (Narnia) is cool enough to forsake the phase he's currently in (Batman). Kids seem to see these phases like socks ... you can only wear one set at a time. You have your "thing" and that's it. You can't have several phases going on at once. At least, that's Gabriel's spin on it.
This makes it very humorous, as the parent, to watch the inner struggle... especially in the toy aisle at Target. Gabriel stands there swaying between legos, Mutant Ninja Turtles and Batman figurines. Forget Indy (to dad's dismay) "I don't LIKE Indy anymore mom," (which I know is patently false, since he still loves the movies and can't wait for the new one to come out on DVD on Oct. 14)... he seems to feel his loyalties MUST lie in one direction, not two. Asher, on the other hand, who's current phase is Jack Sparrow, seems to have less of a problem bopping like a ping pong ball between hot wheels, hulk gear, buzz lightyear and jones toys. Oh what fun to be a kid!
I started reading the Chronicles of Narnia to Gabriel about a week ago, thanks mostly to our nonexistent television (we don't have cable yet and currently have access to NBC only) and lack of Internet. (up until two days ago.) He LOVES the books! We are almost done with "The Magician's Nephew." And he is, in a word, entranced.
Every night, as soon as I finish reading to him, and put the books away for the night, and tuck the boys in, I've been indulging in a bit of reading too ... the other night, I randomly picked up one of Gabe's library books and dove in. "Peter Pan," by J.M. Barrie. Two hours later, I was still reading ... biting my fingernails with excitement as Mr. and Mrs. Darling returned home from a dinner party to see their children whirling about the nursery ceiling and heading out the window!
Wow. What a book! If you haven't read it -- go to the library this instant and pick it up. (Preferably a well-illustrated version, it adds to the enchantment) I had absolutely no idea this was such a great book! At seventeen chapters long and over 200 pages, it was nothing like the simplistic kids book I had expected. It kept me going for three or four nights -- okay, during the days too, I'll admit. I even cried at the end! Do you know why? I cried because I was an adult! The end is THAT heartwrenching!
Written just before 1900, I believe, the writing is just beautiful! So many times, I would stop to just admire a well-written paragraph, turning it over in my brain, or repeating a sentence that was especially delicious. Yes, I'm a bit of a geek that way, it's true!

Neverland, as Barrie describes it, is a state of imagination... the world a child's mind creates -- Listen to how he describes it:
"On these magic shores, children at play are forever beaching their coracles. We too have been there; we can still hear the sound of the surf, though we shall land no more.
Of all delectable islands, the Neverland is the snuggest and most compact; not large and sprawly, you know, with tedious distances between one adventure and another, but nicely crammed. When you play at it by day with the chairs and table-cloth, it is not in the least alarming, but in the two minutes before you go to sleep it becomes very nearly real. That is why there are night lights."

Anyway, it is now one of my all-time favorite books. I highly recommend it. Gabriel and I will be starting it this weekend, after we finish Narnia. I can hardly wait! As a parent, there's something to be said for the intense excitement of introducing your kids to the same worlds you enjoyed as a child -- to see them enter into it with just as much believability and big-eyed excitement. Since we can't seem to muster that much excitement about things in the cynical, adult world, I find nothing better than to see it in their faces -- especially when they find it in a book.


C Staude said...

Oh my darling girl, reading your post makes me remember sharing the magic with you not so long ago! Isn't it wonderful that, at least via the magic of books and through the eyes of little people who love us and allow us to "travel with them", we can revisit the places of wonder once more!

Love you, Wendy, er... I mean Katie.

Anonymous said...

Yup, it's a marvelous tale - with so much more to it than people realize at first. :)

I've got more Peter Pan for you to read...there's a new book out and it's got a got something very special going for it!
Click on my name to see!

Nhia said...

Ah yes, I do miss our conversations dearly. :)

Katrina said...

I miss them too! You know, there IS a newspaper up here! Hint hint! Hee hee! :)

Jennifer Fruend said...

I really love this post. Beautifully written, yes...but the love and story behind it certainly glows through your words. Thank you for sharing.
Along the Peter Pan front, as an avid fan myself, have you heard of the "follow-up" stories by Ridley Pearson Peter and the Shadow Thieves, Peter and the Starcatchers? I love them...
Take care,

Nhia said...

You know, it's very tempting! :)