I finally finished reading Iva Ibbotson’s Journey to the River Sea aloud to my girls, and this passage just about jumped out at me and gave me a high-five. This pretty well sums up what a child’s life should be like, at least in my highly idealistic mind. (Warning: this comes at the very end of the book, so it’s a pretty big spoiler.)
Miss Minton interrupted him. “I will explain. At least I will try to. You see, I have looked after some truly dreadful children in my time, and it was easy not to get fond of them. After all, a governess is not a mother. But Maia. . . well, I’m afraid I grew to love her. And that meant I began to think what I would do if she were my child.”
“And you would let her–” began Mr. Murray.
But Miss Minton stopped him. “I would let her. . . have adventures. I would let her. . . choose her path. It would be hard. . . it was hard. . . but I would do it. Oh, not completely, of course. Some things have to go on. Cleaning one’s teeth, arthmetic. But Maia fell in love with the Amazon. It happens. The place was for her–and the people. Of course there was some danger, but there is danger everywhere. Two years ago, in this school, there was an outbreak of typhus, and three girls died. Children are knocked down and killed by horses every week, here in these streets–” she broke off, gathering her thoughts. “When she was traveling and exploring. . . and finding her songs, Maia wasn’t just happy, she was. . . herself. I think something broke in Maia when her parents died, and out there it healed. Perhaps I’m mad–and the professor, too–but I think children must lead big lives. . . if it is in them to do so. And it is in Maia.”
“You would take her back to Brazil?”
“To live among savages?”
“No. To explore and discover and look for giant sloths and new melodies and flowers that only blossom once every twenty years. Not to find them necessarily, but to look–” (296-97)
It always surprises me when I serendipitously read something that so resonates with how I see life, education, parenting, and I’ve noticed it happens most often when I’m reading children’s literature. I can’t say we’ve ventured off to the Amazon (or anywhere close) over the past decade, but I hope that I’ve maintained that sense of adventure in our studies here at the House of Hope.
I’m linking up with Wednesdays with Words at Ladydusk. I hope to review this gem of a book more fully in the near future.
- “Five Keys to Working with Teens” by Julie Bogart at the Bravewriter blog
- My review of Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer
- Another WWW from Journey to the River Sea