Do you ever feel like the stars align and everything works out perfectly just as it should and just when it should and just how it should?..
And not just any stars, but the second one, to the right?…
I have deep-seated philosophies on parenting. I’m not sure from whence they came, but they reside somewhere near my instincts so that I don’t even have to think about them, and rarely do I even formulate them, even though they govern much of what I do with my kids…
and what I don’t do with my kids…
and when I do with my kids.
I guess, more than anything, I want my kids to feel life. To cherish it. To remember it. I want their everyday to be calm and simple and beautiful and their special moments to stand out like tangible moments of pure magic.
And it seems to me that, if we are constantly shuttling them about, and partaking in activity after activity, and playing every sport and seeing every movie and eating at every restaurant that, not only will we soon go broke, but, life will become a blur in their little minds.
Their childhood will become a blur…
say it ain’t so!
So this means we stay home a lot. On purpose. We say ‘no’ a lot. On purpose. And we do a lot of waiting, doing our best to exercise self-control when the doting parents inside of us want to indulge in every shiny thing this world has to offer our kids, and to do it now! (I have been fidgeting in excitement for TWO years thinking about Rebekah’s American Girl dolls I have hidden. I’ve almost given them to her so many times, but I’m waiting, by golly, until she is at least five…I think I can! I think I can!).
Anyhow, my son is turning 6 years old this week, and the fact that he has never played a team sport and has only been to the movies twice is something of an anomaly in our culture. While the world rages alongside us, we are doing our best to slowly pace through his childhood, learning to live a quiet life and to enjoy the simplest and most timeless gifts of family and nature and home, with a few really special moments hand-selected now and again to just knock his socks off. And we try to play ball with him in the yard anytime he asks, so he won’t look like a goober when we finally do allow him to join a team.
But since he was a very tiny tot, I have been longing for the day when I could take him to the Tulsa Performing Arts Center to see a live show.
Because, although Gideon is all boy, obsessed with weaponry and hunting and fishing and bad guys and…well, typical boy stuff…he also has the heart of an artist, and finds great delight in music, and dance, and theatre, and costuming and, in his own way, fashion (those of you who know him know what I’m talking about!), and the theatrical just speaks to him. We have lots of random PBS infomercials recorded on our DVR that he watches over and over again, including Celtic Thunder, Max Raabe and the Palaste Orchester, Les Miserables…all of these, coupled with his favorite classic cowboy movies (Roy Rogers is a new favorite) and his watercoloring skills make me think he might grow up to be a bit of a Rennaisance Man. Thus, I’ve known since he was a truly little tyke that he would find a show at the PAC just utterly fascinating and awe-inspiring.
But as much as I longed for that day, my philosophy governed that it had to be the right day.
The right show.
Something that would completely capture his fancy.
And it had to be when he would be old enough to appreciate and remember it.
And then we couldn’t go to another one for a couple of years, at least.
That’s a tall order, isn’t it?
But when I think back over the past couple of years, I find it almost laughable now that I had to restrain myself so painfully when specific shows came along…Beauty and the Beast…The Wizard of Oz…A Christmas Carol…Fiddler on the Roof…Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas concert…each one just begged to be our first show together, and each would have been happily received by my imaginative son and by his imaginative Mama.
But if I had had any idea then that, one week before his 6th birthday, our show would be coming to town…
well, self-control wouldn’t have been so difficult.
Did you know that Peter Pan is one of my all-time favorite stories? I love the book (even though I think I have no idea what it is talking about). I love the Disney movie. I love the 2003 movie. I love the music from both movies. I love the movie “Finding Neverland”. I love the last name Darling. I love the universal need for a mother. I love the idea of a dog for a nursemaid. I love pirates and Indians and mermaids and…I really love a place that keeps our hearts and our minds and our imaginations young and vibrant and safe.
In other words, I love me some Neverland.
And so it still shocks me a little that I gave birth to Peter Pan himself.
When my son was 2 years old, we began watching Disney’s Peter Pan together, and for him, it was love at first sight. He requested to watch it all the time, and if he wasn’t flying or playing pirates, he was dancing around the living room like an Indian brave. He has been wearing a size 4 Peter Pan costume since his 3rd Halloween, and I’ve seen it on him more times than I’ve seen him naked, and that’s saying a lot. He almost lives in it.
And he, via Peter, has had quite a few adventures along the way (click here to read more).
The beauty of storytelling, whether in the form of folklore, or books, or movies, even, is that, among the plethora of genres and then specific tales within each genre, your individual heart just reaches out and grabs a few that almost define you. They speak to you, and resonate with you so deeply that you use them to tell your story…
And, by sharing them with your loved ones, you share a sacred piece of your heart, and as these stories grab their hearts, as well, it binds your more closely together and gives you a shared experience that threads itself surprisingly deeply into your very personal and daily lives.
All of the above might have sounded very nonsensical and dramatic, but…well, I’m nonsensical and dramatic! And what I’m trying to say in this exceedingly lengthy blog post is this: if you want to know the Gore family better, you need to know Peter Pan. And once you acquaint yourself with Peter Pan, you will find that, at the very heart of the story, behind the scenes, right square in the middle of the Darling nursery, is a Mama and her little boy who, though so different in age, are so terribly alike that I sometimes can’t tell us apart.
Our eyes always well up at the same parts in movies and books. (“Are your eyes waterin’ too?” he’ll ask me).
We can communicate our depths by just looking at each other.
We never want anything to change.
We are scared of death and loss and all the curses of the Fall.
We love life, the way it was supposed to be. The Eden way.
And, sometimes we love it so much that we never, ever want to grow up or move from this spot.
Not necessarily in a lazy or unresponsible way…
but in a way that sort of proclaims “I really like it here and I really, really love you so much, just like you are, and I want this moment – and this beauty – to last…forever.”
When Gideon is feeling sentimental and he keeps returning to me for hugs and kisses and says “I just can’t stop hugging you – I just want to hug you all day!” I know exactly what he means. And when I get all teary-eyed the night before his birthday and say “I thought I told you last year to stop growing up!” he knows exactly what I mean. And when both of our “eyes water” during the train departure scene in the first Narnia movie, we know exactly why the other is crying…
Life is a beautiful mess. It can hurt so bad…but the good parts are so heart-wrenchingly sweet. I feel it every day. And I know that Gideon, young though he is, feels it, too.
And so I think if they were taking shuttle trips to Neverland, we would be the first two in line. But…since Neverland isn’t real, and since our true Eden and our Forever Home is beyond a life of temporary separations and suffering, one of the most precious nights of my life was sitting alongside my little soulmate at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, holding hands and sharing laughter as we watched our story – and our hearts – come to life on the stage in the most magical and beautiful production I have ever had the pleasure of seeing…
I’ll tell you all about it…comin’ up next!
(Read Part Two here).