Wide-Eyed Childhood


Well, I’ve been “reading” the Narnia books lately. I already finished The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and am now part way through The Magician’s Nephew. Man, they’re even better than I remember them to be from when I read them in 3rd-5th grade.
But, besides that, I have been seeing lots of contrasts between the children in them and the children I see in real life. When considering them both, I believe that I was more of a Narnia kid. I find that many kids today have their lives micromanaged by their parents, are given things to use for entertainment, and are generally cut off from the concept of entertaining themselves. Sometimes I’ll say that we’re going to work on a drawing, or read part of a story… and there’s always some kid that groans that it’s “boooooorrrrrrrriiiiiing!!!” Since when is that boring? I mean, if I told my students we were going to stare at a spot on the wall for the whole period, then they are more entitled to their groaning. But no, something like drawing or reading… boring?
No, I was a Narnia kid. I grew up on a farm. We owned a few board games, but rarely played them. We did have an Atari, but could only play it on rainy days or other approved times (although I was never really into it). Besides that, our job as children was to think, consider, dream, and explore. I spent most of my childhood in the woods climbing trees, building forts, and concocting very expansive stories with my brothers about me being a princess in disguise and them being roving minstrels and the world being attacked by evil and how we were the only three to protect it! We’d make up stories and dream and grow. And we’d read books and build stuff and consider the world to be much large than us… and adventure to be lived.
I used to ride my horse out to a field in the middle of the woods that, yes, had a stream going through it. I’d lay by the stream in the sunlight and read while my horse ate grass. Eventually, the sun would start to go down and I’d hear my dad whistle from the house meaning that it was time to come in and help with chores. I went on so many adventures from that place, it was almost spiritual.
When I tell kids today that I did this, very often they and their parents respond in ways I wouldn’t have expected. The kids tell me that it sounds boring to spend a summer afternoon doing that. And the parents mumble something about how my parents should have monitored me more closely because I could have gotten hurt.
But, when I read C.S. Lewis, I know that there is someone out there who lived and dream a wide-eyed, open, adventure of a childhood. And, my life is still like that. If becoming “mature” or becoming an “adult” means abandoning this sense of adventure and connection to creativity, then don’t think I’ll ever grow up. I’m quite satisfied in my Narnia.