Yesterday I heard that author/illustrator Maurice Sendak was gone, and it sent me into a wave of nostalgia for when my boys were little, and loved to read "Where the Wild Things Are."
Our oldest son, who is now 22 and a senior in college, was the original owner of this classic tale of wild monsters and little boy fantasies. He got so excited reading the book that he drew all over the pages and even ripped out a few. Later when he was older, he said "Yeah, I remember that. I thought that's what you were supposed to do when you read that book: roar, gnash your teeth and wildly consume the book."
Well duh, how did I miss that? Of course he was right. I taped the pages back together and read the book to Sam 7 years later. As far as Sam knew, that's the way the book was supposed to look.... wild and deconstructed and reconstructed. At the time it was mauled I was not happy - thinking of the cost of replacing the book - but then I realised that it was now a piece of family history.
So this is a picture of Sam, our middle child, at age 5 which was about the time we were reading the taped-up version of Where the Wild Things Are. This was his response to the book. Make a costume and pretend to fight Wild Things.
At what point do we stop making costumes, stop pretending to fight (or dance) with monsters, and when do we stop imagining ourselves as the hero of our own story? I think there is a hero in every child, and a child in every adult, just waiting to dress up and act out the fantasy. How many adults dress up as Klingons, wear kilts to weddings, join Civil War re-enactments, dress up for Renaissance Faires, wear special outfits for special athletic activities, put on old clothes for a "vintage" style photo, and the list goes on...
Just like Max, we want to put on our wolf costume and sail across the ocean where we can be the wildest one of all. Maurice was a genius, because he tapped into not just a child's fantasy, but that place we all want to go when the world is just a little too oppressive and dark. Whether it is a long session in our studio, a cabin in the woods, a long hike to a mountaintop, a marathon run, a wild scrap quilt, or twirling crazily under a starry sky...we want to have a space of time to be wild and free and out of control.
Good-bye Maurice. We'll miss you.
Let the Wild Rumpus Start!