Pooh and Christopher and Me
By Maria Macfarlane
One of my most precious possessions is a tattered, worn copy of The World of Christopher Robin by A.A Milne. It was a wonderful introduction into the magical realm of literature. My love for the beauty and cadence of both the written and spoken word began with the many hours that I spent reciting Milne’s lyrical poetry out loud. As I became a parent and began reading the Winnie-the-Pooh books to my own children, I developed an even deeper appreciation for his genius. I admired both the spirit in which the stories were written and the heartfelt messages that they conveyed.
In When We Were Very Young, Now We Are Six, Winnie-The-Pooh and the House at Pooh Corner, Milne creates a rich world of childlike experiences where virtue is praised and friendship is celebrated. When difficulties slow us down, Pooh teaches us to find calm and tranquility. We learn about charity and humility and are shown that we should trust our own intuition. The whimsical poetry and lyrical narrative sing the praises of love, honesty, justice, hope and respect. Through their misadventures, the loveable, fully rounded characters teach children complex traits such as courage and loyalty.
The concept of family is particularly strong. The heart of Winnie the Pooh and the special relationship that he shares with Christopher Robin are what drive the uncomplicated storylines. Young children are gently guided through the enchanting Hundred Acre Woods, where actions are based on rudimentary logic and dialogue is enhanced by fanciful snippets of poetry.
Christopher Robin and his merry band enjoy one adventure after another. As an only child, he acts as “parent” to his male animal buddies. Although their antics are related in extremely childish terms, we find tidbits of wisdom and little gems of inspiration that teach positive, real life lessons. The scenario is endearingly amusing as they solve problems with a naive, unsophisticated mind.
The engaging anecdotes are meant to be read aloud to a younger audience. Unlike small children, adults have outgrown the need to prove themselves. Consequently, we tend to easily embrace the idea of simplicity that Milne promotes. With a sense of humor often aimed directly at the parents, we observe hilarious cause and effect situations where we are presented with non-magical solutions to play versions of real life problems.
Like any typical group of siblings / playmates, each animal has a distinct personality. Their interaction reflects an understanding of the way kids think and play. Tigger is impulsive, Eeyore is neurotic, Kanga is pragmatic, Rabbit and Owl are conceited and self centered. My favorite, Piglet, is ever-so-humble and precious Pooh is simple, direct and loving. Desirable character traits are encouraged and undesirable ones are shown to be silly.
As we can see by the following examples, the valuable insight imparted by Christopher Robin, Winnie the Pooh and all their friends are relevant to kids and adults…..even in today’s world.
Don’t become bogged down in details. By focusing on the little problems you can miss the big picture and overlook what’s really important in your life.
“You can’t help respecting anybody who can spell TUESDAY, even if he doesn’t spell it right; but spelling isn’t everything. There are days when spelling Tuesday simply doesn’t count.”
Be positive, aware and don’t dwell on yourself. It can be nice just to do nothing sometimes.
“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”
Appreciate small pleasures and the little things you take for granted.
“Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon”
Physical activity leads to a healthy, happier life.
“A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise.”
Relax. Don’t over analyze things and make mountains out of molehills.
“If the person you are talking to doesn't appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”
Strive to be positive. Dwell on the good things you have and want in your life.
“When late morning rolls around and you're feeling a bit out of sorts, don't worry; you're probably just a little eleven o'clockish.”
A conversation means listening and exchanging ideas.
Keep conversations positive and simple.
“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like WHAT ABOUT LUNCH?”
Take the time to be kind.
“A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.”
Take the lead.
Sometimes we instinctively react to a predicament. We feel powerless and drift along, going nowhere. By being proactive we must act and move out of our comfort zone. That can be scary. Being proactive is rewarding and can be exhilarating.
“You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
Alone time can be quality time.
“Don't underestimate the value of doing nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering.”
Never underestimate the power of love.
“If you live to be 100, I hope I live to be 100 minus 1 day, so I never have to live without you.”
Growing up is a fact of life.
“I used to believe in forever, but "forever" is too good to be true.”
True friendship is very special.
“Promise me you'll never forget me because if I thought you would I'd never leave.”
Milne admitted that the Christopher Robin / Winnie the Pooh series of books were originally written, not for little ones, but for the child within us. There is a genuine sense of innocence and an unforced sincerity that seems to be missing in much of today’s children’s fiction. It is no wonder that, generation after generation; it strikes such a resonant chord.