Reading Peter Pan

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Reading Peter Pan with Lucy

As you know, Peter Pan has carved a special place in our lives, through Molly’s role as Peter Pan and Lucy’s love for the story, the show, the movie etc. Yet we had never read the original work by J.M. Barrie.

So for Christmas I purchased the book and gave it to Molly.

One of the great memories of my life is that of my Dad telling stories/ or reading to my siblings and I every night before bed. My brother and I had Dr. Suess’ “Green Eggs and Ham” memorized. Zorro was my favorite, but the stories I learned from the Book of Mormon and the Bible are priceless. That tradition is one of the greatest gifts given to me.

When Molly and I got married we made reading together one of our family activities. It is one of the reasons we chose the name Lucy. I read all seven books of the Chronicles of Narnia to Molly as we went to sleep each night while Molly was pregnant. Lucy was such a wonderful character….Queen Lucy the Valiant.

So this week we finished reading Peter Pan. Some of it was exactly what we knew and expected. Some of it was not. There are whole scenes in the theater production that are word for word from the book. And even the Disney animated version has elements that are exactly from the book. What surprised us were some of the things for adults in the book. It is to a large extent about growing up.

The very first paragraph starts “All children, except for one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way that Wendy knew was….…… but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end.”

Peter Pan, as you know, is the child who never grows up. Peter comes to the window of the Darling family nursery to hear the stories that are told. We hoped as we read that Lucy would come to our window and sit at the foot of our bed and listen to the story that captured her heart.... It is a thought we have often.

Some of the story is quite silly and some of it profound and thought provoking. Parts of it seemed to be written just for Molly, Lucy and I. “There were odd stories about him; as that when children died he went part of the way with them, so that they should not be frightened”. The idea of Lucy flying away with Peter created yet another special connection for us.

While reading, we discovered that while there is much that is fun about Peter Pan, there was much that we did not like about him. Peter is adventurous and brave, fun and exciting but he is also very self-centered. Wendy, Michael and John fly away with Peter and have the adventures that you already know about. They remain in Neverland for a long time but when they realize that they are forgetting parents and family relationships they finally decide to return home. J.M. Barrie writes about children being “heartless”; essentially that they don’t concern themselves with the heartaches and troubles of others. That is how Peter Pan is described. Peter returning to Wendy’s window years after their adventures even forgets that he knew Tinker Bell and Captain Hook, so consumed is he in his own life.

The book made me think about growing up, what does it really mean? A large part of it, I decided, is that we put others first. We work for the well being of others, we care about their sorrows, set backs, triumphs and happiness. In large part it implies becoming a parent, becoming like our Heavenly Father. Hasn’t our Heavenly Father, through our Savior, asked us to be like him? “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” Mathew 5:48.

My favorite line of the book came just a couple pages from the very the end. Wendy, after their adventures in Neverland, returned with Peter Pan a few times to help with spring-cleaning. But soon Peter Pan lost track of time and didn't return for years...

“Years rolled on again, and Wendy had a daughter. This ought not to be written in ink but with a golden splash”.

Of all Wendy's adventures being a parent was the most glorious. In your journal does it not seem fitting to write about the birth of your children in gold rather than ink?

At the same time, notwithstanding the Savior’s injunction to be like our Heavenly Father, we are commanded to be as little children. There is a tension between the two, such that it may take some stretching to cover both ideals. To be selfless, and hard working like parents and humble and joyful like a child. It is my experience that this life will certainly stretch us.

Lucy loved the story of Peter Pan.
Some day I will be able to ask her all about what she found so entertaining in this beloved story [and why she liked Captain Hook so much].

The video below is Lucy watching the Cathy Rigby Broadway production.
The part she gets real excited about is just when Captain Hook walks on stage.

She did that every single time.


  1. in that video she is my own precious daughter and watching that i am filled with the greatest love and the greatest pain at the same time.

  2. Beautiful Post. Beautiful Words. Beautiful Lucy. Beautiful everything. Lucy, what a doll she is. I love the thought of our babies on the other side sitting at our window. I don't think it's too far fetched either. I believe they miss us too. Obviously they have a larger perspective and are happy where they are, but I can only imagine that they yearn to be close to flesh and blood. After all, it's because of the two of you she lived at all. She's an angel. I do wonder if the kids who die young get together with all the other valiant spirits and cheer us parents on. Much love to you. Can't wait to see you on Friday. let's pray for good weather:)

  3. Peter Pan is a wonderful story. I have come to love the movie Hook, where Peter grows up and has to remember again how to be a child. I love you guys!

  4. That was beautiful. I love the video of Lucy. How adorable that she is that excited watching it. I am a huge Chronicles of Narnia fan, so everytime I hear the name Lucy, I think of that, and now your beautiful little angel. How fitting that she will now have a Peter, like in the series, to join your family.

  5. Oh my goodness, that video is just precious. It really brought tears to my eyes. I miss her, I just can't imagine how you guys feel. I think the name Peter is perfect for your new little guy. I love you guys.

  6. Thanks for sharing! She is so sweet!

  7. How precious!! What an adorable precious girl your lucy is.

  8. Great thoughts Vic, as always. I love the golden splash imagery. I'm glad you keep posting pictures and video of Lucy. It's great to keep sharing her with the world and it keeps her fresh and alive in memory. She did make a GOLDEN splash. I have no doubt she sits on your windowsill sometimes.

  9. Love this post. Very touching. What a beautiful, darling, perfect angel Lucy is.

  10. Molly! I don't even know where to begin! I am uncontrolably sobbing as I sit here and think over my day amd how impatient and awnery I was with my two sweet children! I am sooo sad for you and am so proud of you for the courage you have through all of it. How horrible it has to be! I love you and I am just like a half hour away from you. I would looove to get together. I'll warn you now that I will bawl when I see you! I can hardly breathe right now because I am crying so hard. Congratulations on the baby boy in your belly. Although your little girl will forever be irreplaceable, you will be amazed how much you fall in love with your little boy! Please call. I want to see you and hug you so tight. love, Selena 921-9383

  11. Vic, you write excellent posts. I, too, love the golden splash line. Such a perfectly phrased sentence, and such a perfect insight.

    I wanted to tell you also, I just started reading Emily of New Moon by LM Montgomery. It's in the Juvenile section, but it's by the same author of the Anne of Green Gables series which I have almost completely finished, and am obsessed with now, so I wanted to start on Montgomery's next heroine series. The book is about a 9 yr old girl who soon after the book's beginning loses her father and becomes an orphan. The first chapters are about her loving and very close relationship with him, their last conversation, and the funeral after his death. It's completely heart-wrenching. And as I've been reading it, you have no idea the flood of images I have had come to me from the hospital, the viewing, the funeral, the lunch afterward even, everything is just an onslaught of scenes and emotions as I've been reading about her ordeal in the book. Paul and I still think about Lucy and you guys all the time, and even though it's been a little while it's still so real and present. And I know even more so on your end. We keep praying for you guys constantly.

  12. that is truly beautiful. What a tender mercie to have such a beautiful reminder of Lucy in a timeless story.

  13. as always, one of my favorite, thought provoking, fabulous entries.
    thank you :)

  14. Thank you for sharing your heart with us, and for the continued Lucy pics and videos. I'm so glad you took so many pictures and movies to share--as you write with your golden splash. Gorgeous.

  15. Now that my little babe is approaching 2 I have to say it's really interesting to me that Lucy loved Peter Pan so much.... like that she understood it enough to know what was going on and to actually watch a stage production of it on TV. I don't think my daughter would do that. Definitely something special for Lucy and your family.

  16. I cried when I read your last post and realized you were naming your little boy Peter. How beautiful and absolutely fitting. It's perfect.

  17. I can't explain how my heart fluttered to see little Lucy twitterpated like that....because she was always excited like that. That movie brought me peace. Thank you for your strength, I miss her so much. Love you guys.

  18. Hey Molly,

    I just wanted to let you know that my blog is going private. If you want to continue to view our "exciting" lives (jk) then send your email over to mine, I hope your pregnancy is going well, and what a beautiful post.

    Jami (Bergeson) Wyatt

  19. Such a beautiful, eloquent post.

    I continue to marvel at your strength and wisdom and in your continual trust in the Lord.

    You and Molly are wonderful examples to me.

    I always watch the sweet videos of Lucy with smiles and tears. She is so beautiful.

  20. Vic, I love your thoughts! Growing up and becoming like a little child... in my world, it's the Mary & Martha complex. Taking care of things that must be done, and learning to stop and enjoy what is really important in life. Would we ever feel quite alive with out all this struggle? Jenny


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