It is unseemly to envy our children, and I usually don’t. I don’t begrudge them their youth, their energy, their innocence. My jealousy stings just a little, instead, at those lovely bedtime moments where I read my 7-year-old “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.”
He is intrigued by Lucy’s foray into the wardrobe, stunned by Edmund’s treachery, enthralled by Turkish Delight, fearful when Aslan dies on the great stone table. When Lucy’s siblings hide in the wardrobe, he bursts with gloating excitement as he deduces that they too are finally landing in Narnia. We are three chapters from the end, now, and he truly does not know what will happen next.
The first time it struck me what a gift this is – the gift that you receive the first time you get to read a true classic – was actually a few years before he was born, as I tore through the newest Harry Potter installment. My childhood favorites – Narnia, of course; Madeleine L’Engle’s "Time Trilogy"; Tolkein’s "Lord of the Rings"; Susan Cooper’s “The Dark Is Rising”; Lloyd Alexander’s "Prydain" – had been read and re-read so many times. With the Harry Potter books, for the first time in many years, I felt a classic in progress, one where I could once again experience the story afresh – until that series, too, finally ended.
“Is Narnia like a whole different world?” my son asked as we read that gateway book tonight. “Are there other worlds like it?” He has no idea how many there are, or how all too soon he’ll know them all.