Jealous Parenting

Okay, so my title might be a wee bit misleading. What am I jealous about, you ask?

Narnia. I am passionately jealous about Narnia and my children.

The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe is the first longer book that I remember my mother reading aloud. I remember the soft darkness of the bedroom and the way I could feel myself walking with Lucy & Susan as they had their hands in Aslan’s mane on the way to the Stone Table. I relished the description of the tea with Mr. Tumnus. And as we lived at that point in a place with no snow, every winter description was magical.

I know I didn’t see the 1980s BBC adaptation until I’d read the book on my own at least one more time, perhaps even two or three more.  I was 8, and we’d moved to a place heavy with snow and winter. Some of it was magical, quite a bit of it was not, and I began to empathize more with the descriptions of winter melting away.

My husband read aloud The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe to our children last winter. He didn’t read them until his late teens or adulthood, but has his own special memories of his dad reading other books to him in childhood; he requested being able to read aloud this one because he thought he would have liked it at this age. It was beautiful to watch them read together. I shared a picture on our Facebook page of how my daughter reacted to the scene at the Stone Table.  Our son loved the fact that Peter was given a sword, of course.

After they were done, my husband asked about when to show them the newer movie. I happen to like the newer movie (do not, however, get me started on the next two they made. Awful is the nicest thing I can say for them). Even with liking it, though, I find myself strongly resistant to showing the kids the movie just yet.  The strength of this feeling made me pause and consider my reasons.

I want my children to live in this story on their own much longer before we invite any actors to join them. “What does spiteful mean?” they’ve asked. And said things like, “Peter wasn’t being very nice to Edmund here.” or, “what are sardines? can we have some?”

I want them to feel the power of the Stone Table breaking before any special effects team shows it to them on the screen. They feel the scenes intensely enough as is; as we listened to the book again on CD yesterday, I watched my daughter hide her face with her eyes just listening to Maugrim talk to Edmund.

Listening to it as a read-aloud book gives them more thinking time than any epic film gives them to reflect. At 11 p.m. a few nights ago, after bedtime had well commenced, a small voice announced, “I’ve never had a beard before, so I don’t know what a beard feels like.”

Right now we’re listening to the fantastic audio version by Michael York (part of an entire series done by British actors) while driving in the car. I think I’ll tell my husband that we should wait until Christmas time to show them the movie…

There is no doubt in my mind that a love for the book will continue long after they’ve seen the movie. That’s not the question or issue. But I am in no rush to let the visual storm of the film overtake the world they’re building in their heads.


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