Checking in with Le Petit Prince by M.S. Warrenby An Abundance of Good on 05/26/16
Perhaps the greatest thing about schooling your teenagers at home is the freedom to pick your favorite books for their literature classes. That, combined with my forcing them to learn French sparked into life a cozy little discussion group on Antoine de Saint-Exupery's Le Petit Prince.
Of course, we are reading it in English. (One far-off day I hope to have them work on translating from the original French.) My own first reading of this book was at age 23 while I was staying in Spain. I had been told about this book by a Francophile traveling companion, but I could only find it in Spanish at a local bookstore. Over several weeks, in my quivering, beginner-level Spanish, I painfully plodded through its pages, often wondering if it was really saying what my translations seem to indicate.
"Odd book," I often thought, checking back to my little dictionary on the suspicion that had I botched a certain word or phrase.
Unfortunately, I was caught up so much in getting the literal translations (and caught up also in being the grown-up Saint-Exupery warned so much about) that I missed the quiet beauty of its story.
Now, several translated readings later, I am not only mesmerized by the quiet story but still enchanted by its odd dialogue. (Or, as Saint-Exupery so convincingly illustrated, we grown ups have the odd dialogue; The Little Prince has it right.) And today, our little party has delved into Chapter Four's reflection on how grown ups like numbers instead of what really connects people:
"... When you tell them that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you, "What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?" Instead, they demand: "How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?" Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him."
My thirteen year old daughter smiled at this. You could see the "so true!" in her eyes, and I knew that without my preaching or pointing or trying to force it into her head, I had brought to her the idea of the true nature of relationship; of really being able to connect to someone on things that truly matter.
Maybe my very young grown ups are still just old children. Maybe they will catch themselves before they launch into numbers and facts and classifying other people into numbers in facts.
I don't know. But I can check in with the Little Prince and give you updates on how that's all going.
For now, I will leave you with the very proof you need to know that the Little Prince really does exist:
"The proof of the Little Prince's existence is that he was delightful, that he laughed, and that he wanted a sheep. When someone wants a sheep, that proves that he exists."
So, there you have it.