When I was in graduate school, I gave a seminar on J.M. Barrie‘s Peter Pan. It’s one of my favorite books, in fact it’s maybe my favorite book, and reveling in the novel’s story and history was a joy. I’ve been waiting until I could read it to my daughter, suggesting it often, but she repeatedly refused. Wasn’t ready, or I was trying too hard. Then someone loaned us an audio book of Tinkerbell stories and I told Merida that we have to read Peter Pan (the original!) before she could listen to it. So a few days ago, she finally relented and we began The Great Book. Now she’s begging me to read more whenever we have time. After I read this passage from Chapter One, we had a funny conversation.
“Mrs. Darling first heard of Peter when she was tidying up her children’s minds. It is the nightly custom of every good mother after her children are asleep to rummage in their minds and put things straight for 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.”
My daughter leaned over to me and said, “Do you do that?”
How to answer? I was vague.
She said, “Don’t you know?”
“It’s a story,” I said, and smiled.