The last two weeks I spent some of my free time reading through Peter Pan for the first time. I realized how much I have missed reading books simply for the sake of enjoying the story. The last four years have been packed with textbooks and (amazing) theology and Christian Living books that I did not have much time to pour into a fun piece of fiction.
At the end of the story Wendy is grown up. She is a mother and has forgotten pretty much everything that happened to her as a child when she flew off to Neverland with Peter. She even smiles patronizingly at Peter’s sadness when he cries about how old she is! It made me so mad. I practically shouted at the book, “how dare you forget?! How is that possible?!”
Wendy was grown up. You need not be sorry for her. She was one of the kind that likes to grow up. In the end she grew up of her own free will a day quicker than other girls. – Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie
But then, after reading those three lines, I saw how much I am like Wendy. And it scared me. Bad.
Part of me, my personality, is that I have always been the girl who wanted to be older. My parents and my extended family say I was just born older, which is probably true in some respects, but I also have always had this constant desire to move on to the next step. If there was a way to get a move on with my life, to see what experiences my next age would give me, I wanted to take it. People told me to slow down and enjoy my childhood (whatever that meant) and I thought them incredibly irritating (sorry…everyone). I mean, why? To me it seemed as if they were trying to hold me back from something so much greater (whatever that was).
Basically I have wanted to be here in adulthood for my whole life, and I love it—school, work, writing, ministry, friends, family—life is good. But I am finding that a touch of what all those irritating people said is true. In some respects I feel as if I’m trying to get back to 8 years ago through the old adventure books I’m reading, as I am dressing up like Robin Hood for VBS, babysitting, obsessing over superhero movies, and playing crazy games with little boys as we nerd out over stories, shoot each other with nerf darts and make home movies.
I cannot quite articulate it, but as I finished Peter Pan I went into a panic about that fact that I am about to turn 18. It’s like I snapped into the reality that the official and legal title of “adult” is descending upon me—I can’t be the child who is an adult anymore, I am simply the adult. I have found myself declaring these strong vows in my mind about how I am not going to forget Neverland.
Please go ahead and laugh, it’s okay, so am I!
Maybe I am having some kind of crisis here, but I’d like to think of it as more of a decision to never lose touch with what it means to be a child—to have awe, to enjoy innocence, to love adventure, to see beauty in the smallest of things.