Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Firsthand Lion

Jim The Small Child Nephew is, we think, a budding vegan. He eats jelly and Lucky Charms marshmallows and oyster crackers, and this is all he requires for hurling-things fuel. But he screamed the last time my sister tried to cram Birkenstock-looking sandals on his feet, so there's hope.

I tried shovelling some hamburger into him once about a year ago. Jim has a lion puppet, and the lion puppet makes him happy, and although I do not trust the lion's suspiciously cheerful mohawk, I stuck my hand in and waved it at my godchild. Jim produced the little roar noise he always does when he sees the lion, and I made it very clear that the lion was just an enormous fan of hamburger. And Jim ate a couple bites and then he wanted the lion to entertain his royal self some more.

Here's my question: Jim is a very smart small child. He was a very smart baby. Did he... really think that was a lion bogarting his Happy Meal, or was he fully aware that this was merely a mass of felt at the end of Aunt Beth's arm and was just humoring the lot of us so we'd go away and leave him in peace to perform his world-important role of throwing Lucky Charms around the room? Or is this simply a tribute to the imagination to those of us who don't have to take up valuable brain waves with keeping track of when and when not to pee?

I'm honestly wondering. Because if he thought this was truly a lion come to life, at what point do we develop the ability to look at Sarah Jessica Parker and go, "Heeeeyyyy... That's not a natural blonde!"?

fries with that at: mb@blondechampagne.com

11 comments:

lina the reader said...

Maybe it's because I read this post a little too soon after watching Finding Neverland, but I'm feeling awfully childlike at the moment...

I read A Little Princess when I was seven years old. Miss Sara Crewe introduced me to the idea that dolls came to life as soon as I wasn't looking. I believed it to be true. I began to look for clues to prove the theory, but my dolls always covered their tracks. Until one day I thought I had stumbled across part of their secret. I took notice of how lifelike my dolls became when I played with my mother. She could make them walk and talk in ways that I couldn't. I was convinced that my mother wasn't merely pretending; she was actually making my dolls come to life. I came to the conclusion that grown-ups, at least special ones, could tap into the magic which my dolls were so expertly hiding from me. I thought that maybe when I became grown-up, I could have that magic too.

So, MB, you have the ability to make Jim's lion real. That's pretty powerful in your nephew's eyes. I hope his sense of wonder lasts longer than it takes Sarah Jessica Parker's roots to grow out.

Dantelope said...

Good lord, lina, you should write children's stories. That was fantastic.

I'm an old man now, but oh MY do I ever want to believe now...

Halcyon said...

I agree with Dantelope, Lina, your story was wonderful.

I just had a baby nephew of my own, and while he was born only three days ago, EVERYTHING he does seems fascinating (even though he is technically not doing anything at all!)

MB said...

I hate it when my readers show me up.

Sniff! Thank you, Lina, that was just lovely. I like that answer. I will think of this whenever I see Overly Friendly Rainbow Lion.

Congratulations on you OWN baby nephew, Halcyon! Handle with love and then give back :)

red pill junkie said...

The official ending of childhood is marked by the first christmas you have when finding presents under the tree doesm't make you feel awe and excitement. My own innocence was torn when instead of gifts I found a 100 pesos bill inside my shoe... :-(

I for one am a torn man: one aspect of my psyche is filled with scientific skepticism that needs proof for everything, and the other part still desperately needs to believe in the hints of that veiled magical aspect of reality lina the reader so eloquently wrote about. Which side will win is still uncertain.

Ophelia said...

RPJ: I don't think either side is supposed to clearly win that 'battle'. When you stop believing in that magic and start questioning it, I think that's when you become bitter & stop enjoying life.
Take into consideration the grown-up Peter Pan played by Robin Williams in the movie Hook, especially in the very beginning.

red pill junkie said...

I guess you're right ophelia, so here goes...


I BELIEVE IN FAIRIES! :-)

TAMAR said...

I BELIEVE! :)

mike the longterm reader said...

Ophelia: When you stop believing in that magic and start questioning it, I think that's when you become bitter & stop enjoying life.

Yes and no. Children like Jim need those little bits of magic so they don't grow up believing that the world is a cold and violent place. But at the same time, they also need to learn to grow out of them to become fully functional and rational human beings.

The nice thing is, you doesn't necessarily become bitter and cynical once you give up belief in "magic." It should mean that you just see magic in other things. You may stop believing in Santa Claus, but that doesn't stop you from feeling the power and redemption of the birth of Our Savior, or the spirit of giving and joy in Christmas.

But kids need those things because to their young eyes, the world is a frightening and scary place, and trust isn't always immediately given. Jim needs the comfort of Totally Gnarly Mohawk Lion to teach him that food that isn't immediately pleasing to the palate is still worth eating, and that he can trust his Aunt Mary Beth. And in a few years, the concept of the tooth fairy will be introduced to teach him that growing up is not scary.

Luckily, these phases will not last long. When Jim is 13 he won't need Aunt Mary Beth to put on a ventriloquist act before he wolfs down a Big Mac, nor will he need the comfort of a my-first-body-hair fairy to ease him through puberty. But by then, there will be bigger things for him to tackle, and he will have learned to trust the people around him . . . and himself.

red pill junkie said...

"...but that doesn't stop you from feeling the power and redemption of the birth of Our Savior, or the spirit of giving and joy in Christmas"

Yeah yeah! BUT then you come up and learn that Jesus was not born on december 25 in the year 0, and that such date was in fact the pagan holiday of the Sol Invictus and the birthday of the God Mitra...

See?? I told you so! Torn, torn torn...

mike the longterm reader said...

I don't think that really matters, in the broad sense.

Making the birth of humanity's Redeemer coincide with the very shortest and coldest days of the year is a pretty good touch, I'd say. Christmas belongs in the winter.

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