Avery’s on the tail end of her cold so we were able to resume Peter Pan yesterday. A week or so ago we read Chapter 6 which involved the Lost Boys building a house for Wendy to recuperate in after she was shot by one of them when Tink said she was evil. Nasty, Tink. Peter Pan sits outside after the house is built keeping guard as fairies fly by on their way back from an orgy. Yup, orgy. That’s in the book, not my addition. I know back in the day an orgy is just a party (or is it?) but really? I can just see Avery now on her birthday: “Yay! An orgy!”
Chapter 7 is short and a bit dull. Wendy, John, Michael, and all the Lost Boys move back down into the underground house via hollow trees made especially for them. Everyone’s snug-as-a-bug and Wendy darns some socks and plays Mother-dearest while the boys slumber. Lots of description, lots of detail of Tinker Bell’s fashionable nook in the wall. Lots of classic language referencing designers and things I’ve no idea about.
To be frank, I’m bored to tears of this book and ready to give up, but, as my husband reminded me, I shouldn’t teach Avery to be a quitter. So we’ll persevere, though I’d rather be reading The Chronicles of Narnia. Them’s the good stuff.
“They are forbidden by Peter to look in the least like him, and they wear the skins of the bears slain by themselves, in which they are so round and furry that when they fall they roll. They have therefore become very sure-footed.”
Peter Pan, Chapter 5
Mother-daughter reading of Peter Pan resumed last night, much to Avery’s joy (if by joy I mean utter indifference followed by a nap).
We’re on the island now, and most of chapter five deals with the inhabitants of the Neverland. The lost boys are looking for Peter, the pirates are looking for the lost boys, the redskins are looking for the pirates, the beasts are looking for the redskins, and so on, ad infinitum. Sprinkle in some scary stories about Hook’s hook, and pirate adventures. End with a tragic weeping from the sky, “poor Wendy,” followed by AN ARROW TO THE BOSOM of poor Wendy all thanks to the cantankerous Tink. A sweet feminine fairy she is not, more like a spiteful banshee.
Things are starting to pick up now. We see the burgeoning roots of Hook’s animosity toward Peter, and I had forgotten about the silly crocodile with the tick-tocker in her belly who wants to eat Hook. Lots of childlike suspense in this chapter, what will become of our dear, poor Wendy?
Little Miss Avery was awake for all of Chapter 4 last night, so now in her tiny three-month-old spongy brain she undoubtedly thinks that she’ll be able to fly someday, and survive doing so by taking food from the mouths of birds and manage sleeping while floating on her back. That’s Chapter 4 of Peter Pan in a nutshell. Peter and the kids have flown the coop, literally, and are on their way to the Neverland where they are greeted by PIRATES and so cannot land. When said pirates start shooting at them they scatter and are separated. Poor Wendy is left with Tink, who is furiously jealous of Peter’s attentions toward Wendy (don’t forget, they thimbled in Chapter 3), and so Tink leads Wendy to her doooom, which we will uncover in Chapter 5.
Far less depressing, Chapter 4. A bit trippy instead. Reads like a drug-induced hallucination. Not that I would know.
This picture is from my favorite version of Peter Pan, the 1960 movie starring Mary Martin. Somehow this is the one I was raised on in the 80s and I’m fiercely loyal to my childhood favorites (1985 mini-series of Alice in Wonderland as another example).
Chapter 3 is the lightest installment of Peter Pan thus far, not nearly as macabre or melancholy. Peter comes back to the nursery in search of his shadow. Accompanying him is Tink, a fairy with a lovely figure, I believe the exact word Barrie chose was embonpoint meaning a full, fleshy, curvy bosom. (Dirty old man, Barrie!)
While rooting around for his shadow, finding it, and attempting to attach it back to his person with soap, Peter awakens Wendy and–being the smart lady she is–she determines she can sew Peter’s shadow back on his body. Kneedlepoint ensues, after which, sitting next to Peter on her bed, Wendy tells Peter he may kiss her, if he likes. He doesn’t know what a kiss is, so Wendy shows him, calling it a thimble, and they thimble a few times after that.
I tell you, if Wendy were my daughter I’d ask her just what she was thinking by thimbling a boy who crawled in her window in the middle of the night. Instant grounding, that, and wait till your father finds out. Seriously though, I know there’s some history with Barrie and children and speculation of general creepiness. I certainly hope it’s not true, but I have doubts that this book should be read by young children.
Luckily, Avery was asleep the whole length of Chapter 3, so she won’t get any ideas about sneaking boys into her room.
Last night’s reading of Peter Pan went slightly better than the previous, although this is likely because I was more prepared for how depressing of a book it is. Chapter 2 begins with Peter’s shadow getting trapped in the nursery when he jumps out the window, and Mrs. Darling keeping it and trying to find a time to tell Mr. Darling about it. A week later the opportunity presents itself on the evening of a party. Looking back on that night, Mr. and Mrs. Darling and Nana sit talking about how much they miss the children who, I think, have been taken to Neverland. The story of that night, and how Mr. Darling tricks Michael into taking his medicine, is awful. Mr. Darling pretends to be brave and his children goad him into taking his medicine to prove to Michael that it’s easy; except Mr. Darling only pretends to take it, and the children catch him. In an attempt to deflect, he pours the medicine into Nana’s bowl and tricks her into drinking it. When the children gang up on Mr. Darling for being a real asshat, he drags Nana from the house and chains her up outside. Mr. and Mrs. Darling leave for the party, and this is presumably when Peter Pan comes back for his shadow and whisks the children off to Neverland, only I can’t be sure since that’s in Chapter 3 which we’ll get to tonight.
Slightly less toxic, but still depressing. Mr. Darling is quite a weak man, pressured into tricking his children and then taking his anger at his own deficiencies out on poor Nana. Avery seemed to enjoy it, though she did nod off toward the end.
But unfortunately Mrs. Darling could not leave it hanging out at the window, it looked so like the washing and lowered the whole tone of the house. She thought of showing it to Mr. Darling, but he was totting up winter great-coats for John and Michael, with a wet towel around his head to keep his brain clear, and it seemed a shame to trouble him; besides, she knew exactly what he would say: “It all comes of having a dog for a nurse.” (10)
My little Avery Rose is just shy of three months old. My, how the time flies. She’s in school, learning about new colors and textures and people. As a first time mother I feel I’m just a tinch paranoid that if I’m not constantly exposing her to something new, I will somehow fail in the teaching department, and her poor little brain, so much a sponge right now, will not absorb some necessary piece of information and she will fall behind. She’s a smart baby, and it’s my job to keep her that way. Thus, the nightly reading.
Last night I decided it was time to start reading to my little one. Not kids books, but good literarture. Nothing too heavy-handed just yet, but something I would appreciate reading also. I contemplated starting with The Chronicles of Narnia, as they’re sure to be her favorites just like they are mine, but deferred instead for Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, having never read it myself.
Holy mother, what was I thinking? Perhaps it’s different after the first chapter, but in the beginning Peter Pan is SO NOT a children’s book! So depressing! Mom and Dad aren’t sure if they can afford to keep their children so they count all the pennies it will cost? Don’t forget to deduct the expenses of every illness out there in the world! The language is beautiful, but so ethereal and metaphorical there’s no way I could explain to a toddler, let alone a three month old baby how the kiss that mother has in the corner of her lip is not a real object. It’s a good thing Avery can’t understand a word I say as she’d be sure to ask me why they’re talking about murders and why a boy can climb through a window in the middle of the night!
I am not so sure Peter Pan was a good one to start with. We’ll see how Chapter 2 goes tonight. Oy.