Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Into the Wardrobe, with No Hope of Return

Matt has been reading through C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia with our girls at bedtime for several months now. The story has filled their minds and our lives for weeks on end. Each "Little People" doll in our house is now designated as a character from the story. Paper towel rolls have been transformed into swords. Two egg cartons, cereal boxes, and yarn have been intricately designed into an exact replica of the Dawn Treader. Finger-paint swirls are a Narnian landscape at sunset. Play time now holds epic battles against the White Witch or Miraz's army. And I have lost the privilege of calling my children the names I chose for them.

The girl I used to call Naomi now answers to "Susan." Hannah fires an angry response my way each time I forget that she is really "Edmund." Emma doesn't mind being called Emma, but the others are quick to remind me that her name is "Lucy." "Peter" is always present, I just can't see or hear him. Toby announces with a grin, "I Caspian! Prince Cas-Pi-An!" "Reapacheep" also haunts our house along with a female counterpart mouse named "Dally" that Hannah imagined to keep him company.

My children have all acquired something of a British accent as well, no doubt from hearing how the characters talk in the movies. If I question my children about spilled cereal I am likely to hear the response, "Eet wahs prohbably Reapacheep. He's ahlways geetting into trohble. Reap-a-CHEEP! Geet in thah ahnd clean up yah mess!" Or a slightly more realistic, "Go ahsk Prince Caspian."

It's hard for Susan, Edmund, and Lucy to understand that their cousins and church playmates don't understand or enjoy living in Narnia the way they do. No matter how they try to explain to their cousin, whom they've dubbed "Eustace," that the boat in the swimming pool is actually the Dawn Treader in a vast Narnian ocean, all he wants to do is sink it. This infuriates Susan, and she sometimes has to be removed to a Narnian time-out to be reminded that not everyone realizes they are in Narnia yet.

I have been assigned multiple roles in this drama, probably based on my children's disposition toward me at the time. While overseeing the evening toy clean-up I have heard all of the following from my children: "The professor wants us to clean up our toys, he's tired of stepping on them all the time," "Yes, you have to clean up, Edmund. Aslan says so, and you have to do what Aslan says," and my favorite, "The White Witch just told us to clean. Don't do it, Susan. Don't do what the Witch says!"

I probably ought to scold my children for this disrespect, but I get better results if I play the part and offer them some Turkish Delight if they clean, or threaten to turn them all into stone when they don't. Somehow, imagination suddenly transforms toy clean-up into a race to save their lives from the evil witch. We soon find ourselves laughing, in the clean castle at Cair Paravel and enjoying "Narnian Popsicles," which, according to Edmund, taste "much better" than ordinary Popsicles. Yes, of course, everything tastes better with a little imagination added.

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