Of course the Neverlands vary a good deal. John's, for instance, had a lagoon with flamingos flying over it, while Michael, who was very small, had a flamingo with lagoons flying over it. John lived in a boat turned upside down on the sands, while Michael in a wigwam, Wendy in a house of leaves deftly sewn together. John had no friends, Michael had friends at night, Wendy had a pet wolf forsaken by it's parents... J.M. Barrie -- Peter Pan
Oh! Ever since seeing the show Peter Pan on Saturday, I have had "Peter-Pan-on-the-Brain." I've been thumbing through my old copy of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (the prequel to Peter Pan), gazinging at Arthur Rackham's illustrations and searching favorite quotes like this one:
...Though he was born so long ago he has never had a birthday, nor is there the slightest chance of his ever having one. The reason is that he escaped from being a human when he was seven days old; he escaped by the window and flew back to the Kensington Gardens. If you think he was the only baby who ever wanted to escape, it shows how completely you have forgotten your own young days. ...All children could have such recollections if they would press their hands hard to their temples, for, having been birds before they were human, they are naturally a little wild during the first few weeks, and very itchy at the shoulders, where their wings used to be.
This ability of babies to fly away leads to a touching (and disturbing) part of the story of Peter Pan -- the part where Peter recounts trying to return to his mother after being away for many years only to find the window closed. I think about this part of the story often, especially after discussing it with Little Mr. a few months ago...
I cannot help but look at my little boy and see a bit of the wild Peter Pan in him... The confident creature who, one minute crows, "How clever I am! Oh, the cleverness of me!" and flies away -- the next minute racing back in need of care & mothering. There is a bitter-sweetness, wanting him to stay young and sweet forever... And knowing, in reality, that it would be sad and strange if he remained this way... if he did not follow a normal course of maturation and ultimately grow up.
Do you have a favorite Peter Pan quote? Maybe mine is
On these magic shores children at play are for ever beaching their coracles. We too have been there; we can still hear the sound of the surf, though we shall land no more.