Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Little Prince--Andrea

Julia, thank you, thank you for giving us a starting point on this book. As a preface to my comments organized exactly like yours, sorry if you didn't want me to steal, I'd just like to state that I felt the author glorified children unrealistically and bashed adults unrealistically. There are some serious negatives to children that we saw amply demonstrated in Milkweed. A lack of maturity and understanding to allow them to navigate the world successfully, a deep mean streak (maybe not Ju's kids, they are abnormally kind but if you remember elementary recesses. . .), and selfishness amongst others, and most importantly an inability to understand consequences. It is why adults are around to teach them. Granted, adults have many of those same problems but not in the same way as children and even if you do something just to seem unselfish at least you can reason enough to understand the consequence if you make the other choice.

Rearing Children (I really am copying Ju): I definitely agree with Julia that adults tend to get bogged down in things that need to get done and sometimes forget to pause for things that our children need us for but don't seem important to us. That is one of the biggest challenges of parenthood. However, the author gave the impression that adults are always in the wrong in being busy attending matters of consequence. That is foolish child-thinking. If moms didn't tend to the matter of consequence of dinner, kids wouldn't eat. Although the children would enjoy the extra 30 minutes spent playing with mom, in the long run, they wouldn't be happy to not have dinner. A similar example would be dads going to work. We all like having somewhere to live, but children don't understand that without dad working every day the house would not be a possibility. Therefore, although adults often and repeatedly get too wrapped up in adult affairs--adult affairs are matters of great consequence and although I know this book is a philosophy primer for children, I still think it should have presented more balance. Obviously, you could have these discussions with your child as they read the book, but I still find how the author wrote incredibly irritating.

Friendship: I agree with Julia's friend--most people have lots of acquaintances and few friends but that isn't a bad thing. For the author to say that adults have no friends because they are too busy to make any is ridiculous. Adults and children both have few friends because to develop that type of relationship requires a lot of time, effort, and selfless giving. If we tried to maintain that type of friendship that Julia described with more than our families (esp when our families are large) and a handful of people--we wouldn't emotionally be able to sustain the friendships. So to have the type of relationships the author was encouraging through all his talk of "taming" you of necessity have to limit their number.

Satisfaction: I agree with Julia that the author was making the point that many adults have a "grass is always greener" complex. I also definitely agree with Julia that children remember to enjoy the simple/smaller pleasures of life that adults take for granted. Although, on the other hand, adults have a great capacity to enjoy sitting on the back porch sipping lemonade while children are more prone to say they are bored--but overall, I definitely think children know how to enjoy life more than adults.

That being said, I am still bugged by the idea that not being satisfied with your life is inherently wrong. Since when did we walk around going--well, I could probably learn more and be a better mother/wife/sister/friend, and I could probably read more scriptures more often and enlarge a talent--but that would be wrong. It is better to just be satisfied with who and what I am. Also--wanting more money isn't necessarily wrong either. Wanting to better yourself and your situation is healthy and admirable. I certainly never want to reach a point where I think--wow, you know, I'm great just the way I am and I don't need to improve any more. I think stagnation is not the same as satisfaction.

Beauty: this is one of the ideas that bothered me most. He kept talking about things that were hidden being beautiful. Usually, the things that are most obvious are the most beautiful. Seeing an older couple walking down the street holding hands is beautiful because of what is seen--not because of what is hidden. A kiss from a baby is beautiful because of what is seen, not what is hidden. Children are GREAT in that way because they are so bad at hiding things. I think the author complicated the idea of beauty unnecessarily.

Tamed: I agree with what Julia said with the caveat that Julia chose to think about it in a way entirely unintended by the author. I think the author meant that every person craves being involved in a really meaningful relationship but when we find ourselves in the position to create that kind of relationship, we often find it hard to allow ourselves to be vulnerable. To really open up to another person. It was the only concept in the book that I really agreed with--I think all of us, to different degrees, present a front even in our closest relationships with humans. It is one of the reasons we need a God/human relationship.

That's it for now. I am curious to see what others have to say (and what Julia has to say back).

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