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Peter Pan & Will

Once upon a time my boy was small and I read stories to him every night. Make that morning, noon, and night! Somehow he came out of the womb with a taste for swords and sorcery like his mama and the two of us sized one another up and knew we would get on together just fine. When he was three he wanted to be Peter Pan for Halloween because it was one of his favorite movies.
Of course, now he's not so small:
And he reads on his own.
(Calvin & Hobbes is his current favorite)
But even though so many other things have crowded in to fill up his days, things like going to school and doing his homework and playing with friends, we still read together every night in the Big Bed. And a few nights ago we finished the fourth Henry Huggins book and he asked me for something different. So we wandered into the library and I scoured the shelves for just the right book. My eyes lighted on that small paperback copy of  Peter Pan I bought on a sentimental whim in Nottingham years ago thinking someday I'd want to read it with my children. It seems that, amazingly, that time has come. We started it that night. 
And, honestly, is there a more magical book out there? I had forgotten. It's been so long since I last read it. And, of course, reading it on this side of childhood is an entirely different matter. No less magical, though a good deal more bittersweet. But reading it to Will has been the most wonderful experience and I don't want it to end. I find myself snatching glances at his face to catch the wonder written so plainly there. I'm mesmerized by the chapter titles: "The Island Come True," "The Never Bird," "Do You Believe in Fairies?" By my son acting out the fighting scenes as I read them. I catch my breath sometimes it's so beautiful. Or when we read the following passage:
It is the nightly custom of every good mother after her children are asleep to rummage in their minds and put things straight for the next morning, repacking into their proper places the many articles that have wandered during the day. If you could keep awake (but of course you can't) you would see your own mother doing this, and you would find it very interesting to watch her. It is quite like tidying up drawers. You would see her on her knees, I expect, lingering humorously over some of your contents, wondering where on earth you had picked this thing up, making discoveries sweet and not so sweet, pressing this to her cheek as if it were as nice as a kitten, and hurriedly stowing that out of sight. When you wake in the morning, the naughtiness and evil passions with which you went to bed have been folded up small and placed at the bottom of your mind; and on the top, beautifully aired, are spread out your prettier thoughts, ready for you to put on.
and he turned to me and whispered, "Do you do that?"

And, of course, we both loved this exchange between Peter and Wendy:
"You see I don't know any stories. None of the lost boys knows any stories."
"How perfectly awful," Wendy said.
"Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories. O Wendy, your mother was telling you such a lovely story."
"Which story was it?"
"About the prince who couldn't find the lady who wore the glass slipper."
"Peter," said Wendy excitedly, "that was Cinderella, and he found her, and they lived happy ever after."
Peter was so glad that he rose from the floor, where they had been sitting, and hurried to the window.
"Where are you going?" she cried with misgiving.
"To tell the other boys."
"Don't go, Peter," she entreated, "I know such lots of stories."
Those were her precise words, so there can be no denying that it was she who first tempted him.
He came back, and there was a greedy look in his eye now which ought to have alarmed her, but did not.
"Oh, the stories I could tell to the boys!" she cried, and then Peter gripped her and began to draw her towards the window.
"Let me go!" she ordered him.
"Wendy, do come with me and tell the other boys."
Of course she was very pleased to be asked, but she said, "Oh dear, I can't. Think of mummy! Besides, I can't fly."
"I'll teach you."
"Oh, how lovely to fly."
"I'll teach you how to jump on the wind's back, and then away we go."
"Oo!" she exclaimed rapturously.
"Wendy, Wendy, when you are sleeping in your silly bed you might be flying about with me saying funny things to the stars."
"Oo!"
"And, Wendy, there are mermaids."
"Mermaids! With tails?"
"Such long tails."
We have two chapters left and he's eager to find out "what happens," while I feel something akin to despair at the thought of closing the cover. I just want to prolong the spell awhile longer. But, I suppose, unlike Wendy and the Neverland, I can always come back to this book. No matter how much I forget, how grown-up I become, or how big my little boy gets. 

Have you ever read Peter Pan on your own or with your children? Tell me.

Comments

  1. I'd love to read it to my boy, but he's....well, 2, and he can hardly sit still through Goodnight Gorilla (a favorite). I just wanted to say that I LOVE that picture of him on the blanket. It's beautiful.

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  2. Oh Angie that was such a beautiful post and such gorgeous photos too!

    I have read Peter Pan, along time ago, I can barely remember it. Now, I can't wait to read it, with my own Will. Although, we have quite a few other classics, to read, before he is old enough, for Peter.

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  3. It is wonderful. I've read both the novel and the play script as I've been writing my novel, and I love the tone of them. The funny thing is that I actually prefer the play script. You wouldn't believe how fantastic the stage directions are.

    Enjoy the last two chapters! This makes me look forward to reading it to my own son soon.

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  4. Oh! Peter Pan has long been a favorite! I love the...earnest way its written. One of my favorite books, to be sure. And, you can also be sure that as soon as my little man gets a bit bigger (ok, more along the lines of 'able to sit still for any length of time') I'll be reading it to him.

    Great post:)

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  5. I've read half of Peter Pan, on my own, and then never finished it. I don't know why and I feel much guilt! Okay, so I'll go finish... soon. :)

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  6. Wonderful post, Angie! I also gave birth to a little boy who shares my love of books and my taste in stories.

    I began Barrie's Peter Pan on the day my son started kindergarten. (The movie Neverland was coming out and I wanted to read the original.)

    The line that had me sobbing was toward the end when it talks about how the lost boys all grew up and got jobs at banks (my husband is a banker) and didn't seem to remember any stories or that they ever liked them.

    My little boy is not so little anymore. He's hit puberty and literally flinches if I hug him and my boob accidentally hits his arm or something.

    I think I'll go hug my Pomeranian now.

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  7. Alas, Chris got handed the bedtime stories job way back when Lexi was a baby and then he wouldn't give it back. So he read Peter Pan to the girls not long ago and it was magical. I know this because although I use this time for other things, I was never far away while he was reading this one!

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  8. My little miss and I are currently engaged in a tandem read of THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH (one of my childhood favorites,) but I think I'll pull out my copy of PETER PAN for when we're done. Lovely, lovely post, Angie!

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  9. What a lovely post, Angie and such sweet, sweet photos of your son.

    I have never read Peter Pan to my children. We bonded over the reading aloud of at least the first five Harry Potter books when they were younger.

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  10. So perfect Ang. I hope my girls have the attention span to read these wonderful books together. We've started reading the longer story books with Mia and it's so much more fun!

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  11. I loved this book when I was a kid. I had this gorgeous copy with color plates, which I read over and over and over. The Disney movie was a huge letdown by comparison. Not at all the same magic as the book.

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  12. I love Peter Pan! Reading to your boy sounds like such a fun nightly activity! Almost makes me which I had a child to which to read. ALMOST.

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  13. This is such a beautiful post, Angie! I love the pictures too. It makes me want to go out and buy a copy of Peter Pan. I'm not even sure if I ever read it. I know I watched the movie and the animated series when I was younger.

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  14. Raspberry, there's a lot to look forward to. That's for sure. And I'm glad you liked the pic. DH took it the other day and I love it.

    Alexa, thank you! It pays to have a photographer for a husband. I love that you have your own Will and how you put that. "Until he's old enough for Peter." :)

    Nikki, I thought of you when we started it! There's clearly a reason why it's such a classic.

    Brenda, I definitely recommend it. You won't be disappointed.

    Elizabeth, something about reading it to little boys...it's perfect.

    Suey, lol. No guilt allowed! You get to it when you get to it.

    Susie, wonderful story! Will is in Kindergarten right now so it's the same timing here. And there really is something so emotionally pervasive throughout the story, isn't there? Part of the reason I had to write the post was to deal with some of that emotion.

    And now I'm thinking about him as a teenager and how things will change...wow.

    Allie, I bet you weren't. I'd listen in, too! Actually, Aaron is reading THE HOBBIT to Will right now as well and I do listen in to that sometimes. So good.

    Chelle, I've got THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH all ready to go! I loved that one and I'm thinking we'll tackle it soon.

    Christine, how perfect. We've read the first three Harry Potters together and I'm not sure whether to wait a bit for the fourth and so on or what. Any advice?

    Liza, I bet she's loving it. It really is so fun each time you move on to the next level with storybooks. I'm sure they'll love them.

    Jenny, I would have loved to see that copy you had. And I know what you mean about the movie. Until I read the book it was just fine. But once you have the difference is large.

    brizmus, LOL.

    Chachic, it's so worth it and, like I said, just as magical as an adult I think. I've been browsing other editions of it ever since we started. Some of them have such beautiful illustrations...

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  15. What a charming young man you've got there, Angie!

    I recently listened to a BBC production of Peter Pan on audio and I really enjoyed it. May I ask what age group you feel Peter Pan is appropriate from? I was thinking that my 4,5 year old probably would love this story if I chose one of the copies with illustrations in it.

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  16. Angie, have YOU read past the third Harry Potter book yet? The stories do get darker as the series progresses, and certainly with some tragedy. But then again, the death of Harry's parents AND growing up with the Dursley's is pretty tragic, so I don't know what to tell you. LOL.

    I don't shelter my girls too much from tragedies in fiction, especially in fantasy fiction, because while fictional events can be springboards to talk about real life tragedies, I think my children are somehow comforted knowing these specific events only happened in a made up story. It's a personal parenting call.

    You can email me if you want to ask me anything more specific.

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  17. The Never Fairy9:37 AM

    Bittersweet! You hit the nail on the head. How wonderful to share it with a child like that -- since it obviously works on two levels at the same time and yet child and adult meet somewhere in the middle. :)

    It's definitely one of the best books. I know my brother has read it to his kids.

    I also recommend a book that's come out which is based on Barrie's own idea for more adventure! Click here to see!

    Hope you enjoy that one, too!
    BELIEVE!

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  18. Ladybug, I really think it's great for a 5-year-old, 4 if you think he's there. There's a bit of more complex wording here and there that you can gloss over a bit if you need to. But not much. Mine's recently turned 6 so that's where we are, though I probably would have read it earlier if I'd remembered!

    Christine, LOL! I should have clarified that. Yes, I have read them all. Midnight releases, waiting feverishly for the next one, etc. I guess I'd read a couple articles on how you shouldn't read some of the later HPs to your kid too young because they might not want to read them on their own later. I admit, I let it get to me and worried about that. So I decided to wait till I figured out what I thought about it. I think he'd handle it all just fine. I don't know. I'm like you and don't shield him too much, though he's younger so it hasn't come up quite as much.

    Never Fairy, thanks for the rec! I'm always looking for new books to read with him.

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  19. "Do you do that?"
    Oh my. How do you ever let him go when the story time is over? I'm so glad he shares your heart's love of stories. :)

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  20. This post is awesome. My oldest is 4 and he loves books that are scary. The bigger the monster the better. I love scary books too so I am so happy to have a buddy in books.

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  21. I haven't read it and I don't have kids, but I enjoyed your post.

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  22. Carrie, reluctantly. :) And so am I. So very glad.

    Tiah, that is so awesome. Like mother, like son. And that's exactly what mine is. My book buddy.

    Jennifer, I'm so glad. I was hoping it wouldn't only be of interest to mothers with little boys. :)

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  23. This is one of the sweetest stories of you reading together. I had forgotten about the simple wonder of those passages myself. I haven't read this book in years, not since I was a child. I really need to again after hearing of your experience.

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