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I Believe in Peter Pan

July 20, 2009

I’m currently calculating my escape from retail.

Last night (or maybe this afternoon when I crashed on the couch in front of Gilmore Girls, I can’t remember) I had a dream that I was promoted by the guy who owns the entire store (except it was really guy from down the hall who runs the most amazing, independent little coffee and sandwich shop EVAH), and he handed me a key and I began to sob with appreciation and gratitude.  And then I started running home, down the streets of my hometown, and my dad pulled up behind me in the cop car and honked to scare me, and when he stopped and rolled down the driver’s side window I discovered he was doing calculus homework on his steering wheel while he drove and there was a blond kid in the back playing a gameboy or something and grumbling about the fact that he was there, and then we all went to some house that was supposedly our home and my dad told me he wished this kid were a little less trouble because he’s totally the kind of kid he’d like me to marry someday, except for the whole delinquency thing, and then I found my mom and held up my key and we jumped up and down for joy because OMG I WAS PROMOTED AT MY DEAD END RETAIL JOB.

I’ve been eating too much cookie dough before bed time lately, I think.

It was a little much for me, to wake up and realize how much I’m really counting on a promotion that may or may not be given to me.  On top of another situation I had no choice but to subject myself to last night, I’ve become very thankful that I’ve finally gotten off my butt and started taking real steps to getting myself out of there before year’s end.  I mean, that’s what I’m hoping anyway.

But today I had one little span of five minutes that really made me appreciate where I am, whether or not there are difficult things to deal with, whether or not I’m making the extra money I really kind of need.  I was working in the fitting room which doesn’t happen a whole lot lately, and a little boy, no older than 11 though perhaps a bit younger, came in with who I think was his older sister.  He was carrying a book of collector cards–I thought maybe they were baseball cards because back in my day (I’m so old) that’s what the kids collected, right?  I was working on a rack of clothes and he set his book down on the table and started paging through them.  He had pulled out a card and was holding it up to the mirror (at which time I decided they were not baseball cards and thought he was decoding a “secret message” perhaps?) and as I walked to the table to set something down, he pounced on top of his book.

I looked down and smiled.

“These are mine,” he said.

“Oh, they’re safe there.  I won’t let anyone take them,” I promised.

“I thought you were going to put them in the lost and found or something.”

“Nope, I know they’re yours.”

“Okay, good.” He breathed a sigh of relief.  Then he looked up me.  “My whole family says I’m too old for Pokemon.”

Ah, so that’s what these were.

“Psssssssssh.” I tossed my hair back and caught a gleam in his eye.  “You’re NEVER too old for Pokemon.”

And that’s when he grinned ear to ear and said, “Well, yeah, that’s what my sister says.”

“Listen to your sister,” I lowered my voice like I was sharing the most important secret in the world.  “Sisters are usually right.”

My brother might disagree, but if coerced he would tell you, at very least, I’ve always got his best interest at heart.

I went back to what I was doing momentarily and he continued to page through his book.  It was filled two or three times over; each individual spot housed multiple cards.

I leaned up against the table next to him.

“So, do you have a favorite?”

He flipped the page and pointed.  I tried to pronounce the little Japanese character’s name.  “Why is he your favorite?”

That got him talking.

He started going through the whole book, telling me back stories and powers, how some of them can fight each other for badges, about the world they live in, how some are good and some are bad.  His eyes sparkled, his whole body animated, and I could tell this was certainly something he was passionate about.

And it made me want to go home with this kid and smack every single person right upside the head who has ever told him he’s “too old” for pokemon.

Why are we trying to make our kids grow up so fast?  Why are we discouraging them from doing things they love to do?  Do you know what kind of information he had stored in his head about every single one of these characters and the kind of organization he’d practiced getting all of these cards in places he’d be able to find them later?  Maybe it seems frivolous and childish, but playing is learning.  He’ll outgrow the cards and the games and the whole fantasy soon enough, and there will be kids ahead of the curve who might tease him about it– he certainly doesn’t need his family’s help.

No, kids should be kids.

I believe in Peter Pan.  I believe he’s hiding away in all of us and some of us are just too scared to dig in and find him.

But I’m not afraid of Peter Pan.  And today, I hope I helped that little boy hold onto his childhood even seconds longer.  That’s not something you can just get back.

And that’s what I’ll miss most about this job:  The random people I get to talk to, or even just the people I get to watch.  There’s beauty everywhere in the world–sometimes I only get to witness it and sometimes I get to throw in a brush stroke or two, but that fitting room seems to be a wonderful place to find it all.

Strange, really.

But lovely.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. July 20, 2009 11:17 pm

    And it made me want to go home with this kid and smack every single person right upside the head who has ever told him he’s “too old” for pokemon.

    me too.

    he sounds sweet.

  2. July 20, 2009 11:22 pm

    I think stories like this are why I (virtually) tag along with you.

    Proof in Pokemon is actually manifesting itself in schools. If you ask teachers in smaller schools where they get to see their students get a little bit older, the ones who were good at Pokemon were incidentally natural born leaders for school projects. They knew whose talents went where and are able to play to everyone’s strengths.

    Little things count, for sure.

  3. July 21, 2009 2:00 am

    In my classroom it isn’t allowed to not believe in Santa Clause, The Easter Bunny, and Donald Duck.

    You have to dance when a silly song comes on, sing even if you don’t know the words, and play in every round of heads up seven up. Even if you don’t want to.

    Commenting spree over.

  4. July 21, 2009 7:32 am

    My brother is thirteen and he still loves Pokemon.

    Loved reading this story. Kids should be kids for just a little longer.

  5. verybadcat permalink
    July 21, 2009 6:25 pm

    Here’s to hope and childhood. :)

  6. Kendall permalink
    July 21, 2009 10:50 pm

    First off, I’m sorry it took me so long to read this.

    As someone whose first handheld game was Pokemon back when it first game out in the states, this just made me all kinds of happy.

  7. cari permalink
    July 23, 2009 11:33 am

    and THAT is precisely why i love you. because you ARE that person. and how i miss you and how i wish i could afford to come see you and yes, midwestern boys are the BEST. whether that’s from here or twitter, i can’t remember, but whatevs. i said it anyway.

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