Sad to say, both boys have left the hundred acre woods since I wrote this piece.
Dear Pooh, I’m sending my grandsons to you for a visit. One is two and the other is your age, Pooh. I would have brought them over myself, but having had my time in the hundred acre woods I know that – heavenly though it might be to have just one more hour in your company – I can never revisit those halcyon days let alone impose my cynical self on you.
You wouldn’t know me, Pooh, or like me very much if you did recognise me. I’ve travelled decades away from the Hundred Acre Woods and have long ago lost the knack of suspending disbelief. If I turned up on your doorstep I would be telling you, that dessert comes after dinner and that all that honey you’re inhaling will rot your teeth. And I’d be telling Tigger to stop bouncing and sending him off to school so he can learn to spell his own name. If he hears something in the playground that will rub some gloss off that sweet innocence, well those are the casualties of life in the real world.
Christopher Robin goes to school, but despite his superior demeanour when speaking to the ‘silly old bear’ with the head full of stuffing, Christopher will forever be six, just on the cusp of breaking away but never quite making it. He’s as much a prisoner of the enchanted wood as you are, Pooh.
I’ve watched my grandsons crawl, then take their first steps; they babbled then spoke their first words. The little one can count to twenty. If he misses fourteen and sixteen, it’s only a matter of time before he catches up. The other day the four year old confided to me that ‘mummy loves daddy.’ When I asked how he knew, the firm and confident response was: ‘she married him.’ He had obviously thought it through. He was disappointed, though, that he hadn’t been invited to the wedding. Having experienced it close up my grandsons understand about love and will learn from and draw on their experiences some day. You were born 4, Pooh, and your life is dedicated to chasing after that next pot of hunny. You and your friends can never, will never change. You were never meant to. You are a delightful reminder of what was.
I began this letter thinking it would be nice to stop time for my grandchildren and end it by realising that perhaps a little reprieve before the real world closes in on them is all they and I can hope for or want. In the meantime, for all our sakes, Pooh and Tigger and Piglet and Rabbit and Kanga and Roo and Owl, ‘stay as sweet as you are; don’t let a thing ever change you.’