JM Barrie’s Peter Pan is a beautifully penned novel, something I had a privilege of reading at a very young age. Disney, despite a lot of complaints on the images and stories they make, opens the door of curiosity for young children. Watching some cartoons from disney actually informed me of the real literature available for my perusal, because I enjoy books more as a child than television. It had a lot of elements especially pirates (which I loved as a child and until now).
As a young child, Wendy Darling stole my attention. She was the elder of the Darling brood and acted very much like an older sister does. In some ways, I relate to her quite well because I grew up around my younger guy cousins and I adore them ever since they were babies. As a child, I understood her struggles, her excitement for adulthood but her unsureness of it as she observes the adults in her life. She meets Peter Pan and decides to delay her foray to maturity by going off to Neverland with him and staying young forever. However, it is through this journey that she realizes how she really wants to grow up, and somehow expects Peter Pan to do the same. She asks him if he’d like to speak with her parents back in London and ends up going back.
This book has been interpreted in so many ways and has even reached psychology (if the theories can be considered ‘real’ psychology, haha). At a young age, I found it tragic how they both found it other. Peter Pan was described as a naughty boy who had a very beguiling smile, and one cannot blame Wendy for wanting a friend. After all, she has had all these adult responsibilities and a little fun wouldn’t hurt right? Peter Pan introduces her and her brothers to his group of friends, “The Lost Boys” and as well as many experiences in Neverland. This land of ‘youth’ opens Wendy’s eyes and shows her the importance of boundaries, of growing up. Childhood is important; it is important as it prepares each individual for adulthood. To remain a child forever is something a lot of people hope for, until you realize you are in your own Neverland and you wake up.
Wendy realizes in the end that she desires to grow up and to marry and that she could not stay with Peter forever and his gang of lost boys. She asked him to make a choice. That was the sad part, because somehow Peter Pan wanted to be with her too, so much that it was interpreted that he kept coming back generation after generation just to be with ‘Wendy’. However, he chose his Neverland and Wendy, with her newfound perspective decides to go back to reality and practice all that she has learned in Neverland.
As a twenty-something individual, I realized that we all have our Neverlands, those places of idealism that we escape to when the real world becomes challenging. I feel somewhat lucky having the opportunity to play around with preschoolers and be given a window to their Neverlands, because a lot of learning comes from those daily journeys. As twenty-somethings, however, we have to come back to the real world and take on our responsibilities. Every day, I hang my apron and preschool cap on the shelf and go home to assume a different role. That doesn’t mean I do not care about my students, I adore them so much but I have parents to care for and friends to love. That is the beauty of this novel, we are shown the models that she has primarily learned from but it also shows that learning is not limited. It shows us that our relationships with other people are also important. I also believe that God leads us to several life experiences that shape us into the people He made us to be, but the choice of applying the learning is entirely up to us.