“All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, ‘Oh, why can’t you remain like this for ever!’ This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end.” – J.M.Barrie Peter Pan
I am sure every parent in the world can relate to Mrs Darling, there is a part of all of us that wishes our children could stay little forever. A part that wishes they didn’t have to grow up. Of course we want our children to grow, thrive and enjoy life but having a child, and being a child, is such a magical and wonderful time so it is no wonder Mrs Darling, and so many others of us, wish it didn’t have to end.
This quote from Peter Pan is quite sad in the truth that it tells, children are far too aware that their childhood will not last forever and they are eventually going to have to grow up. Unlike Wendy Darling, my boy Leo didn’t learn this at age two, his realisation that he can not be a child forever has happened now that he is three. My wonderful boy tells me every single day that he wants to stay three, he is a little boy now and not a baby and he doesn’t need to be four. My son doesn’t want to grow up, he wants to be the ‘except one’ that J.M Barrie talks about- he wants to be Peter Pan.
He wants to be Peter Pan
This desire to stay a three year old forever is causing a few problems, especially when it comes to encouraging Leo to eat (he is a bit of a fussy eater). Common phrases of encouragement like ‘if you eat this you will grow up big and strong’ or ‘you need to eat your vegetables to help you become a big boy’ just don’t work. What are meant as terms or persuasion and encouragement are in Leo’s mind considered some kind of threat. He doesn’t want to be a big boy, he doesn’t want to grow up, he is happy as he is and he is staying three.
Part of me wishes I could make this happen for him, that I could grant his wish and let him be three forever. I mean, yes being three can have it’s challenges but on the whole what a fun age it is to be. Skills like walking, running and exploring are pretty much mastered so you can be more independent, you can communicate so the frustrations that come with a lack of speech are diminishing and your imagination is just exploding into life. Sometimes I wish I could rewind my life 22 years and be a three year old too. It is an age where you are still learning so much every day and learning new things is still so exciting, it’s not a chore. Three year olds don’t really have a grasp on the world as a whole, they live in their own little bubble with their toys, their family and friends and, unfortunately, that little bubble doesn’t last long. It is only a matter of time before that safe little bubble is burst and the real world with all it’s issues come flooding in.
Yes, growing up can be scary. When Leo turns four he will be going to primary school, he will be away from me 5 days a week and life as he knows it will be over. There will come a time where loved ones may fall ill and pass away and the older Leo gets the more of this information we will have to share with him, as parents we have to teach our children about all aspects of life after all. Soon his books, toys, outdoor adventures and his love for his family will not be the only things occupying Leo’s little mind. With so many bad things and devastating events happening in the word it is inevitable that one day Leo will pick up on this darker side of the world he lives in and when he asks questions we will tell him the truth.
I don’t want either of my boys to fear getting older, I don’t want the prospect of a birthday to scare them or make them upset. I think Leo is all too aware of how quickly time passes now that he has a baby brother. In just 5 months Alex has gone from a tiny newborn who couldn’t do anything to a chubby baby who can laugh, roll over and looks completely different to the person he was just a few short months a go. Seeing this rapid transformation in his baby brother has definitely got something to do with Leo’s want to stay 3, he is seeing that the months really do fly by and a year isn’t actually as long as it once felt. Becoming a big brother and the fact he is going to ‘big school’ in September are definitely key contributing factors to my boys desire to be a real life Peter Pan.
Children tend to just live in the moment and enjoy each day as it comes, you never really hear of a preschooler dwelling on what the future does or doesn’t hold. This is why I feel my heart breaking slightly every time Leo tells me he doesn’t want to be four, yes the world sadly has a lot of bad things happening but it is also an exciting, amazing place that I can’t wait for him to explore. I want Leo to enjoy his childhood to the full, to make loads of happy memories to cherish but I also want him to dream big for the future. I want him to know that he can be whatever he wants to be and he will always have me and his Dad there to support him and cheer him on. I will teach him anything is possible if you put in the hard work and that we don’t have to see turning another year older as a scary thing. Age is just a number after all and with a Mummy who has only recently figured out how to be an adult and a Daddy who is essentially a 3 year old at heart, I really don’t think my boy needs to worry about becoming a grown up too soon – we all stay young at heart anyway.
I can understand why Peter Pan never wanted to grow up sometimes but life is one giant adventure and is there to be enjoyed, no matter how old you are. For the now though, when Leo tells me he wants to stay 3 I will tell him that that’s OK but it’s going to be just as fun to be four, just you wait and see.
What do you think? Is your child worried about growing up or have they not really grasped the concept of time passing yet? Has your child ever told you they want to stay the age they are now, how did you deal with that? I would love to hear your thoughts.
Disclaimer: The ‘Dream big little one print’ was gifted to us from Tyne Prints, you can find it and other prints at their Etsy Store.
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