Monday, January 12, 2009

I Am NOT Too Old For Bedtime Stories

You know, if it wasn't for my daughters, I would probably not choose to reread some of the books I loved from my childhood. I was a voracious reader and, on occasion, plowed through several books a week and didn't always hold the details in my head.

A month ago, my eldest daughter and I decided to read "The Secret Garden" together. I vaguely remembered reading it as a girl, enough to know that I enjoyed the story, and was looking forward to reading it again.

Chapter by chapter we made our way through, struggling with the Yorkshire dialect as it was written and reveling in the relationship forged between the three vastly different children in the book. We practiced our cockney accents and discussed what we would plant in our secret gardens if we had them.

As we neared the end of the story, I was struck by how different my perspective of the book is this time around. As a child, I remember the thrill of the discovery of a secret place, the pulse-quickening thought of keeping such an enormous secret from grown-ups, and getting lost in the idea that children could have so much freedom.

This time, my attention was captured by the story of Colin, the "invalid" child who changed his own destiny by convincing himself that he was going to live and thrive. His 'scientific experiment' consisted of repeating affirmations and physical exercise. The idea that a child could grasp the notion of a self-fulfilling prophecy was fascinating. The final chapter held such magic for me - magic I am certain I skimmed over as a young girl. Magic that didn't speak to me at the age of eight or nine but which seems so blatantly obvious now.

"So long as Colin shut himself up in his room and thought only of his fears and weakness and his detestation of people...he was a hysterical half-crazy little hypochondriac who knew nothing of the sunshine and the spring and also did not know that he could get well....When new beautiful thoughts began to push out the old hideous ones, life began to come back to him, his blood ran healthily through his veins and strength poured through him like a flood....Two things cannot be in one place.
'Where you tend a rose, my lad,
a thistle cannot grow.'"

I wonder what lessons I'll learn from the next book we read together. I can't wait to find out.


Carrie Wilson Link said...

I missed the beauty of Colin's lessons, too! Thank you for sharing them with me now!

What book is next? LOVE this plan!

Michelle O'Neil said...

"Where you tend a rose, my lad,

a thistle cannot grow."

To focus on what we do want, and not on what we don't.

Love it!

Deb Shucka said...

Thanks for this beautiful reminder. I love that you're getting to rediscover these stories with your daughter.

megan said...

i like that story too, great post, k :P

Scott from Oregon said...

I loved green eggs and ham but was disappointed when I figured out the moral.

"Eat the yucky green stuff"...

Ask Me Anything said...

Please don't forget Anne of Green Gables. She truly held me with her "kindred spirits" and "scope of imagination".

Jerri said...

A copy of The Secret Garden stays on my nightstand all the time. It's one of the books that made me want to write, that made me believe I could find the world beyond the hill country where I lived.

So great to hear you're sharing it with your daughter. Who knows where it might lead her!

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