We saw the Peanuts movie and prior to going, I reminisced over the comics. I used to borrow the thick, heavy hardback collections from my school library. I loved it. I still remember all the names and a great many 'plot' lines. What I hadn't realised, until reminded by the movie, is that Peanuts is about failure, not catastrophic failure, just everyday life never quite working out as you want it to. You may never get to kick the football or be able to fly a kite, no matter how often you try. Love is usually unrequited or bestowed upon someone who is blissfully unaware of your devotion. No one will ever share with you the excitement and belief of the Great Pumpkin will rise up. It's constantly about disappointment.
And that's ok. No matter what disappointment besets you, you get up and do it all over again with the same enthusiasm as you did the day before.
As a kid, I never found it sad. I wanted Charlie Brown to kick the ball but I knew each time Lucy would pull it away. And I laughed. Charlie Brown was still the 'hero' of the strip.
Not everyone got a prize - and they were disappointed. Like me, as a kid, every time I missed out.
It spoke to us, and charmed us, and we found it funny. I guess because it reflected life, our life that wasn't so terrible, but was full of tiny disappointments and difficulties. It was our 'normal'.
I do wonder if we've lost touch with something important along the way. We focus so much on telling our kids 'you can be anything you want to be', but what if you can't? Maybe it's like the kite, you can work very hard at it all, but maybe it still doesn't happen? We hand out awards for turning up and everybody is special. We invite the whole class, no one misses out...Yet at some point, disappointment will have to creep in. Maybe not until high school, but it will hit harder when it finally does.
Maybe we need to learn again be alright with that, like we were growing up, and teach our children that too.
Linus tells a wonderful story, way back in '77. "You know what? I think I've learned the secret of life. I went to the doctor yesterday because I had a sore throat... The nurse put me in a small room.. I could hear a kid in another room screaming his head off... When the doctor came in to see me, I told him I was glad I wasn't in that other room... "Yes," he said... "That kid will have to have his tonsils out...You're lucky you only have a mild inflammation". The secret of life is to be in the right room!"
I'm still not 100% sure what I think of all this, but I'm beginning to wonder if we've been parenting all wrong...
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