Well, it happened again. Twice now, in less than one month, I cried at the end of a book. The last time it was reading Amos Oz’ moving memoir, A Tale of Love and Darkness.
This time, it was reading Peter Pan, which I just finished with my five year old.
I don’t usually go in for children’s literature all that much. I’m too much of a sucker for dark realism – Where the Wild Things Are – but for adults.
But I must say that Peter Pan won me over. Maybe it was because I identified so much with Wendy – the designated “adult” amongst the kids at Neverland. Wendy is always so responsible – putting the boys to bed, making sure they’re fed. It isn’t until she’s grown up and with a child of her own and Peter makes that last visit that she realizes that she can no longer fly – literally or figuratively. Her childhood is long gone and with it, her imagination and even her ability to comfort Peter when he sobs because she’s no longer part of his world.
I look at my kids sometimes – both of whom still play imaginary games with some regularity – and I wonder when the day will come that they’ll give them up. Of course, when I said this to my daughter – whose list of imaginary friends runs the gamut from the more mundane Maya and Annie to the more exotic Cherard and Zoma – she cheerfully said that she’d always be friends with them and that I shouldn’t worry. But I can see with my eight year old that the older he gets, the games become fewer and fewer.
So for those of you who are willing to engage in the occasional bout of nostalgia, I heartily recommend that you dip back into Peter Pan when you next have the chance. It won’t be long until, like Wendy watching her daughter fly off to spring clean with Peter Pan, your own kids will be the ones reading it to their children.