Possibly my favourite of all my neighbours has to be R, the coolest ten year old in the world. She is an avid reader, I’ve lived next door to her for two years (in two separate houses, funnily enough) and over that time I am proud to have introduced to her such classics as Nicobobinus, Watership Down and The Railway Children.
This week we had our fairly regular doorstep chat about books and got onto the subject of Little Women. Now I, like probably every girl in the world ever, have always identified strongly with Jo March. I was over-dramatic, loved to make a performance out of everything (and frequently did-massive props go to Mrs Oldfield who let us put on our weekly plays in Yr5 and gave me the writing bug!) loved writing, and in an act of teenage rebellion against traditional gender roles cut off all of my hair, much to the rest of my families annoyance. I loved the books when I was a young teen, but was angered by Jo’s refusal to marry Laurie.
In my head he was perfect for her: her best friend who could smarm his way out of anything, they would have led the ideal life of constant laughter and amusement. I have to admit I did tear the page out where she said ‘no’ and wouldn’t speak to anyone for an entire evening in a preteen sulk. When she married the old boring German intellectual I thought she had gone stark raving mad. Why would you say no to the beautiful, funny Laurie and fall instead for this austere (and much older) Professor?
Then I grew up. Now I long to meet a kind, unassuming, passionate, intelligent older man who will support me without belittling me and provide me with opportunities for self-growth and personal-development. I totally understand Jo’s life choices and these are the ones I wish I had made, instead of throwing my heart away on silly boys that would show me a good time, but in reality provide no lifelong stimulus. This shift of thinking from Laurie to the Professor is one of the things I had semi acknowledged but never given much thought to until R, in her optimistic youthful brilliant way said ‘and why does she marry the professor he’s OLD! Laurie is so much better, I’d marry him over some boring old clever person any day’.
Oh child, child, how much you have to learn…