Every father is the real Peter Pan. The actual one. And every father has his own way of being the real Peter Pan. Men who do this best don’t realize they’re doing it. And why should they? Peter Pan doesn’t do Peter Pan. He is Peter Pan.
Fathers who frolic with their children in complete abandon —in utter disregard for the adult world— are the only Peter Pan their children will ever need. And make no mistake: All children need this. They need a father who takes the lead in outlandishly imaginative outdoor play. (Yes, Peter knows how to turn indoors into outdoors.)
Most fathers start out as little boys. Boys who believe in fairies, goblins, dragons, elves, and much more. Then they grow into adults, and they stop believing in childish things.
Actually, that’s not the end. Because all fathers carry around in their adult heads things they believed as little children. Whimsical, fantastical beliefs. Beliefs in things all adults know are impossible. And when, as adults, they remember these childish notions and take them seriously, they become world leaders. They become Steve Jobs and Ludwig van Beethoven and Walt Disney and Nelson Mandela, all proponents of the impossible.
Have you seen Robin Williams in “Hook”? It’s the story of a father who was once Peter Pan. The real Peter Pan. But, unfortunately, he’s forgotten all about it because of his preoccupation with adult matters such as mergers-and-acquisitions and critically important calls on his cell phone.
Have you ever heard a father say to his children, “Remember who you are!” when he wants them to behave according to their upbringing? I have. My own father spoke those words to me on many occasions.
But have I heard children speaking those words to their fathers? The truth is, children frequently say as much to their own fathers. They say it while they’re still at that magical age when they long for their fathers to join them outdoors, to frolic, to get dirty, and to remember who they are.