This past weekend, I got to take my daughter to see Peter Pan performed live on stage. We dressed up and took our seats and I got to watch her eyes light up with the magic of the theater, the gilded stage, the heavy curtains, the set over London, the twinkling lights and stars and Tinkerbell, laugh at the ticking crocodile and the blustering Cap'n Hook, and clap her hands wildly to prove that she *did* believe in fairies. It was magic beyond the sparkling pixie dust and pajama-ed children who could fly.
Incredible stage performance by Cathy Rigby as Peter Pan. Photo c/o www.hartford.com
For me, there was another experience; even more than watching my daughter enjoy my first literary crush and the pang of hearing Wendy confess that she was "so much more than twenty" while handing off her daughter to have adventures without her. That was the mother in me. The writer in me, the one who loves children's literature, was delighted to (re-)experience the sheer audacity of a child who was 100% unabashedly brilliant and knew it.
Peter Pan is clever and honest and adventurous and brave. It's not that he's "conceited" (as Wendy first accuses), it's that he cannot tell a lie and when he says that he's the greatest kid he's ever met, he means it. The song "I Gotta Crow" is about feeling so proud and happy about yourself that you just can't keep that feeling in and want to share it with everybody! Polite adults say it's not nice to brag or make someone feel bad about themselves for being not-as-good-as-you and while the mother in me can understand (and preach it to my own kids), the child in me remembers being unapologetic in my happiness doing things I knew I was good at and eagerly wanting to tell absolutely everyone about it. It was a "conceit" born of happiness, a sense of honesty and pride, not having to do with anyone else, completely, positively self-centered in my enthusiasm. But the funny thing is that while I watched Peter Pan, I remembered the piece I had forgotten: the elusive quality that endeared him to Wendy and to all of us in the audience who had ever proudly demanded that Mom look at the picture we drew: Peter Pan wanted *us* to have that feeling, too, about ourselves, for ourselves, so we could do wonders. He wanted us to be happy, to be proud, to have that feeling grow so much bigger than ourselves that--with a little sprinkle of pixie dust--we could fly!
This year, I turned 40. I achieved my second degree black belt. I became a published author and saw my debut novel on the shelf. And now my daughter turns to me and says, "Mommy! I love you! Thank you!"
Now go find YOUR wings and fly!