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Monday, December 26, 2005

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Once a King or Queen of Narnia, always a King or Queen of Narnia

"That was the greatest movie of my whole life." -my firstborn, nearly 7.

Stick that on the back of the DVD when it comes out. Within the first five minutes of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, tears were streaming down my cheeks. In part because the opening scene depicts the mother having to send her children away for safekeeping, tearfully telling them to be brave and take care of each other. That isn't fictional. Thousands of English wartime families had that experience, and I expect anywhere there is war, or fatal disease, or other disaster, families are experiencing it today. Even without those immediate kinds of threats, growing up inevitably brings you to the realization that life isn't actually safe, that your parents' ability to protect you only goes far. That's hard enough to swallow as a kid. As a mother, I choke on it constantly. On the one hand, I want my children innoculated against all forms of sorrow and suffering. On the other hand, I want to give them confidence that they can handle whatever life will throw at them, that there is more in them than they know.

The other reason for tearing up was just sheer joy at getting to sit with my nearly-seven year-old son and accompany him into the world of Narnia. Those stories were such a huge part of my childhood, particulary the first one. Being the firstborn myself, I identified so much with the two eldest Pensevie children. My little sister and I spent whole Saturdays in Mom's closet pretending to be Queens Susan and Lucy. Just about the coolest part of having kids is getting to revisit all the high points of your own childhood. Like Christmas morning and trick-or-treating and favorite bedtime stories. It's kind of a secret signing bonus.

My son was excited too. On the way to the cinema, feeling chatty, he told me he wished upon a star. He said he always wishes for something he knows is going to happen for sure, like Christmas coming, or his birthday next week. This one tends to play it safe. I thought for a minute about what I wanted to say. It's important to me that I only tell my children things I truly believe myself. (Yes, Virginia, Santa Claus does fit into that criteria.)

"Oh, honey," I said. "Not every wish you make will come true, but lots of wonderful things you can't even think of wishing for will. Know how I know?"


"Because I had you."

Being a grown-up has its high points, too.

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