Remember the days when we fondly thought being poor as churchmice would be an adventure? Just think how those 5 little Peppers grew, despite their poverty! Or, what about being short? After all, the Borrowers had such a life of adventure. Then, there’s the romantic way Ma and Pa made that little sod house on the prairie. What a life! Can there be too many adorable Peter Rabbits in the world? Wouldn’t raising your kids on a diet of Yorkshire moor air be just the thing for their health? Better yet, who wouldn’t want to reclaim a secret garden from 10 years of neglect?
Those of us raised on a steady diet of great children’s books have no doubt all experienced adulthood as one big reality check. Am I right? Currently, I’m firmly on the side of Mr. McGregor, wishing all little bunnies were being good little bunnies who only ate blackberries (instead of my tomatoes and cucumbers!). I think Mr. McGregor was totally justified in making Peter’s father into a pie.
I’ve also been forced to admit (so far, only to myself) that being poor is not really much fun*; being short is not always a blessing; feeding and raising kids is a lot harder than Mrs. Sowerby makes it out to be; doing yard work/gardening is fun sometimes, but frequently just a lot of hard work; and I don’t even want to imagine what cleaning a sod house with dirt floor would be like! And yet, I’m delighted–utterly delighted–that my children are entering the worlds of Mrs. Tiggywinkle and Jemima Puddleduck…soon to be followed with stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Mary Lenox, and other great literary characters. Despite the reality check that eventually comes, great literature teaches us to see things better, to understand people better, to see the Great Story better (creation, fall, redemption). After all, I’m quite sure the Swiss Alps were so beautiful to me in person because I’d already seen them with Heidi, I love roses in part because they were the essence of the Secret Garden, and I can never look at a horse without appreciating the hard work we humans have put them to–especially as London cabby horses. Don’t you still think there might be little people under your floorboards borrowing thimbles and whatnot, fairies amongst the fireflies at night, dolls that talk, animals that all get along when the moon is full, and mermaids?
*I must admit that we are not poor by any stretch of the imagination–we had some tough times when hubby was finishing grad school, but even then the Lord had blessed us with more than enough! We were tight enough and continue to budget enough that I can appreciate how much hard work it truly is to make ends meet when you really don’t have enough.