In Story Time today I read Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Although it is over one hundred years old, the story of how naughty Peter sneaks into Mr. McGregor's garden to face bliss and terror had my little ones quite captivated.
At the end of the story I asked this question: Would you choose to be Peter --who disobeyed his mother but lived a day of adventure --- or would you choose to be Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottentail -- good little bunnies who had a pleasant and and safe day picking blackberries?
Most of the kids said they'd be Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottentail, which rather surprised me. I always thought that Peter's sisters had a boring time compare to Peter's exciting day. Then I realized that they were asked during Story Time where they are expected to sit with their legs crossed, not call out, and listen quietly --all good things but not conducive to feeling adventurous. To be successful in school and in our society in general, they, like us, must develop the obedient and patient traits displayed by Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottentail. But I think if we look a bit deeper we'll find we always have a bit of Peter in us, eager to find our own way and willing to pay the price for taking that more adventurous route. Perhaps this tension is what has made Peter Rabbit a classic of children's literature.