“Christopher Robin was going away. Nobody knew why he was going; Nobody knew where he was going; indeed, nobody even knew why he knew that Christopher Robin was going away. But somehow or other everybody in the Forest felt that it was happening at last…”
I read those words to my little girl this evening, as she lay cuddled on my lap, wrapped in a fuzzy warm blanket.
It was such a peaceful, yet poignant moment. Especially for a sentimental Dad.
Y’see, for the last several weeks, we’ve been reading through the original Winnie The Pooh books — the ones written by A.A. Milne clear back in the 1920s. And each night, after she’s finished cleaning up her toys, changing into her jammies, and brushing her teeth, my little girl and I have a standing “date” in the ugly orange recliner.
She brings me the blanket, and I get the book down off the shelf, and together we enjoy a 20 or 30 minute retreat into the Hundred Acre Wood.
My throat is usually pretty sore by the time we’re through, because I try my darnedest to make all the voices. But we’ve had some grand adventures along the way. We’ve tried outsmarting honey bees, braved floodwaters in an upside-down umbrella, had some very close calls with Heffalumps and Woozles, and enjoyed numerous games of “Pooh Sticks”. One evening, we even discovered the North Pole — and used it to help rescue Roo, after he’d fallen into the swift-flowing river.
Yup, we’ve certainly had a lot of fun in the world of “Pooh and Piglet.”
Although to tell you the truth, when we first started reading the books, I was a little worried that they’d be too advanced for my little girl. Because, let’s face it, the wording is just a little lofty and outdated, especially for a 3 year old. But, to my surprise, she’s really latched onto it. She even insisted on dressing up as Christopher Robin for Halloween.
(You’ll have to ask Lindsey about her awesome thrift-store creativity to make that happen…)
But sadly, we read the very last chapter tonight.
We went with Pooh and Christopher Robin to an Enchanted Place, somewhere near the top of the Forest, and Christopher Robin told us that he’s going away. He’s leaving the Hundred Acre Wood and won’t be allowed to do Nothing anymore.
“How do you do Nothing? asked Pooh, after he had wondered for a long time.
“Well, it’s when people call out at you just as you’re going off to do it, What are you going to do, Christopher Robin, and you say, Oh, nothing, and then you go and do it.”
“Oh, I see,” said Pooh.
“This is a nothing sort of thing that we’re doing now.”
“Oh, I see,” said Pooh again.
“It means just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”
My little girl, who seems to take EVERYTHING in stride, just went along with the story, sitting comfortably on my lap and not really bothering. Thankfully, she’s too young to understand what it means to grow up. But those words really struck me.
Lindsey and I often joke about our little “threenager,” and how she’s “three, going on thirty”. But in all honesty, I’m so glad she’s still little.
I’m so glad that her world is still bright and soft and kind. I’m glad that, in her eyes, Strangers are just Friends you haven’t met yet. I’m glad that a little hand-picked bouquet of dandelions and morning glory is still the truest gift that could ever be given; that Dad is still the biggest and the strongest thing out there; and that no matter what happens, snuggling with Mom can still make it all better.
I want so bad to keep it that way.
I want so bad to protect her and shelter her from the cruel and the mean.
I want to save her from the tears and the heartache that come with growing up.
But at the same time, I know that isn’t right. I know that she needs to struggle and hurt and cry, just like we all do. I know that she can’t always stay in that Enchanted Place, somewhere near the top of the Forest…
Just like Christopher Robin, I know that she’ll eventually have to leave the Hundred Acre Wood, but darnit! It’s just so HARD to say goodbye!
It’s hard to think about her not needing me anymore.
I know this all sounds a little melodramatic, especially given the fact that she’s just 3 years old, but sometimes I feel a lot like Pooh Bear, who, after having been “Knighted” by Christopher Robin:
…began to think of all the things Christopher Robin would want to tell him when he came back from wherever he was going to, and how muddling it would be for a Bear of Very Little Brain to try and get them right in his mind. “So, perhaps,” he said sadly to himself, “Christopher Robin won’t tell me anymore,” and he wondered if being a Faithful Knight meant that you just went on being faithful without being told things.
I’m sure my little girl was probably wondering why my voice was cracking as I read those words to her. And I’m glad she didn’t look up and see the “sweat” in my eyes as we finished the book and put it back on the shelf.
But after all was said and done, and the two of us sat there snuggling just a few minutes longer on the recliner, I couldn’t help but wrap her in a tight hug. A fierce, but gentle hug. And I closed my eyes and smiled, remembering the closing words of the book:
So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that Enchanted Place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.
Tonight, I’m thankful for Pooh Bear.