Wednesday, 7 September 2016
Reading: Winnie-the Pooh...
When given the opportunity to purchase some books, thanks to a generous Grandma for the gift voucher and willing Granny & Pop for storing them until we returned to Australia, I bought Jimmy a copy of The Complete Winnie-the Pooh, which is two books in one: Winnie-the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. My parents have both these books, but the 1950-something editions are very well loved and I would hate to damage them, so a new edition it was.
And I have loved reading it to Jimmy! His first introduction to Winnie-the Pooh, Christopher Robin, and the others, was through an old Disney movie, which made the book approachable. He seemed to grasp the idea of chapters, although there was a lot of reading to him as he fell asleep, and was able to engage with the characters. I'm not sure if my parents read Winnie-the Pooh to me and my siblings, but the cartoon was a favourite of Asha's. It's a classic.
But do not read the last chapter of the House at Pooh Corner. DO NOT. At least, not until your child is 5 or 6 years old and understands concepts like Knights, and Kings, and Brazil. It confused Jimmy and he wanted me to stop reading the final pages, but I persisted. I had to. I was going to cry anyway, so why not finish it?
When I think of Winnie the Pooh, I think of the lovable, silly old bear, who makes up funny songs and is best friends with the timid Piglet. Pooh Bear has other friends, old and newer, and they all adore Christopher Robin. There is a naivety and simplicity and beauty to the story.
That is, until Christopher Robin starts growing up and stop "doing nothing" and all his companions, save Pooh, drift away into the Forest, after they deliver a heartbreaking note.
It's not about death, but it is because it's about an end, or the beginning of an end: the beginning of the end of a child's softness. I'm all for looking out into the world, but the gentleness of Winnie the Pooh is needed out there - perhaps that is why, of all Christopher's childhood companions, he takes the silly old bear.
After finishing the book, I cried. Jimmy didn't quite understand that why I was crying over Knights and Kings and Factors and "looking out into the world" or the Enchanted Place. But I couldn't help myself.
And while I was still recovering, I tucked my little boy in his not-so-little bed while my old bear. We disagree on the bear's name, but that's ok because that soft bear is now Jimmy's. Like Christopher Robin, I took my bear with me beyond early childhood, and as Christopher Robin promises Pooh, I will still remember my old bear when I'm 100, should I be lucky enough to reach that age. I hope Jimmy takes his "new" old bear with him as he makes the journey from the softness of early childhood and into the less soft early school years. And I hope that the softness of Winnie the Pooh, and all his friends, can continue to provide a little softness into the world.