“Mom, please, read this” the boy said as he placed a book down in front of me. “No. I refuse to read that and you know why”, I said in return. “But, mom, you haven’t read to us in a really long time,” said the doll, applying more pressure. “Go find another book. You know I don’t like reading that chapter, I’m not going to do it” I said firmly. “Mom, we have confidence in you….” the boy pressed. Finally, after much cajoling by both kids I relented, and began to read aloud, “...Christopher Robin was going away. Nobody knew why he was going. Nobody knew where he was going; indeed, nobody even knew why he knew that Christopher Robin was going away”. So begins the final chapter (ten) in the Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh, by A.A. Milne.
Over the years Winnie-the-Pooh has become the fifth member of our family. For a while he was the fourth, until the doll showed up and moved him down the placement ladder. Pooh bear, as he’s commonly known around here, has been by son’s constant sleeping companion since he discovered him sitting on a shelf in his bedroom, just under the age of two. Though we had decorated his room with Winnie-the-Pooh borders, the bear didn’t quite become so ingrained until he and I watched “Cowboy Pooh”, a video my sister had loaned us. From then on, the boy believed he was Christopher Robin; which was fitting, considering; he kinda looked like him too.
The boy used to call himself “Kitty Voman”. The hubby and I had no clue what he meant. Not really familiar with the wherewithal of the Winnie the Pooh stories, I just assumed there must have been a cat in the tales somewhere. After a time, when his pronunciations became clearer, we realized he was in fact calling himself Christopher Robin. This made perfect sense, as his imagination was just as active as the boy in the book.
“Mom, you’re doing fine, take deep breaths and read slowly, you’ll make it through”, the boy said. I looked up from the book to see both kids looking intently at me, as if waiting for something to happen. Fact of the matter is, I have a horrible time reading that last chapter without bringing tears to my eyes. I’m not someone who ordinarily cries at Hallmark commercials or cards. But reading the last chapter of this book always brings tears. Taking a deep breath I continued, “What do you like best in the world, Pooh? “
The doll, though she understands Pooh bear belongs to her brother, is envious of their relationship. She has tried to, over the years become attached to “one” of her stuffed animals in the same manner, but has never quite found “one” to fill that void. Instead she’ll sleep with ten small rodents; which she rotates out every week or so. “…Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called. And then he thought that being with Christopher Robin was a very good thing to do…”
Cue the waterworks. “Aw Mom, it’s okay, you’re almost through the chapter” the doll offers. She doesn’t understand what I’m reading. The boy is enjoying watching me crumble as I read aloud. Saying goodbye to my youth was hard enough. In fact there are many times where I still have trouble letting go, however, reading this and thinking about my children, growing up and moving beyond the Hundred Acre Woods, is pardon the pun, unbearable. I know my kids will do well and the boy especially will look back at his bear with a great sense of love. He had a constant companion who loved him no matter what goofy thing or homework assignment he missed. Pooh bear accompanied him on every adventure he went on, that required an overnight stay. He’s never been ashamed to show, Pooh bear as his best friend.
“…I like that too” said Christopher Robin, “but what I like doing best is Nothing”. ‘How do you do Nothing?” asked Pooh, after he had wondered for a long time. “Well it’s when people call out at you just as you’re going off to do it, What are you going to do, Christopher Robin and you say, Oh, nothing and then you go do it” “Oh, I see,” said Pooh. “This is a nothing sort of thing that we’re doing now”. “Oh I see” said Pooh again. “It means just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” Now add heavy sighs. The kids run off to bring me tissues so I can blow my nose and wipe my eyes. They’ve accomplished their mission, mom is crying. And still I read the saddest part of all, “….I’m not going to do Nothing anymore.” “Never again?” “Well not so much. They don’t let you..Pooh, when I’m –you know—when I’ m not doing Nothing, will you come up here sometimes? “Yes. Will you be here too? “Yes Pooh, I will be, really. I promise I will be, Pooh.” Then a bit later he adds, “Promise you won’t forget about me, ever, not even when I’m a hundred.” And now, I can no longer speak. As the tears flow and my mouth is filled with grief, I hand the boy the book and ask him to finish for me. Looking down he says, “No, that’s okay, the end will keep for another day.”
**excerpts taken from The Complete Tales of Winnie The Pooh, by A. A. Milne (1926)