We’re listening to the Lion, Witch and Wardrobe on the drive to school and the kids are into it and the dead wolf is at Peter’s feet and it’s just a moment before that line is spoken. I pause the CD and ask the kids what Aslan is now going to say.
The girls are quiet, but Jon says, Daddy, he’s going to say ‘Peter, you must remember to always wipe your sword.’
Now it’s been well over a year ago since the last time we’ve read or heard this Narnia story. So I’m thrilled that Jon knows it, at least knows it as much as any seven-year-old can.
Yes, despite what we parents may hope or fear for our kids, despite the bubble wrap and helicopter- hovering, the battle will come to our children as surely as it comes to anyone in this world that is so red of tooth and claw.
In this sense, stories like Narnia are far more real than the dreamy lives many of us lead in the so-called real world. Which, I suppose, is why most children enjoy them so much. These stories ask something of them, treating them not like adults, but much more.
In this case, they ask that one is brave and willing and somehow able to run a sword through a ferocious wolf, a dark animal that will surely devour your sister, then you, and thus the whole world. This isn’t a total surprise, a story’s request for you to take on the bullies of the world, whatever form they may take.
But then to wipe the blood and guts and sticky black fur off your sword, the sword that’s been given, interestingly enough, as a present to you by Father Christmas? This is a surprise. And one worth thinking about. Like Jon apparently has.
That’s my boy.