Friday, September 18, 2009

Why Puff the Magic Dragon Made me Weep

(originally posted on

Okay, so... a lot of celebrities have passed this year, and i generally try to stay away from posting about these people like they actually meant something to me on some level, because other than the fact that i knew who Farrah Fawcette was, or had a lot of Michael Jackson albums before he went all wonky, or even how i fell in love with Patrick Swayzee in Dirty Dancing and Ghost... i have nothing really relevant to say about any of these people.

really, i have nothing of relevance to say about the passing of Mary Travers from Peter Paul & Mary either, except that when i was driving home in my car yesterday i wept.

like i was saying, i was driving home from the doctor yesterday and was listening to CBC Radio2 and of course everyone was talking about the death of Mary Travers, who died after a long battle with cancer - and i learned a lot in those few minutes; about her life, how she grew up in Greenwich Village in the 60s, and how the group Peter Paul & Mary and their song "If I had a Hammer" was so influential in the sixties...

In tribute to Mary, they played - not "If I Had a Hammer", but "Puff the Magic Dragon" and i thought "Hey! I haven't heard this song in, like, forEVER!"

So, i cranked the volume up to eleven and sang along the best i could with my gargly voice and clogged sinuses.

Happily i imagined Jackie Paper and his dragon playing very much the way i imagine Chewie plays with his giraffe Maynard. My heart warmed as i placed my very own son in the role of Jackie Paper, frolicking in the autumn mist with Maynard by his side.

Having adventures and travelling on a boat with billowed sail, fighting pirates...

I smiled as the nobles kings and princes bowed when er' they came.

I was so engrossed in this imaginary land, watching my son play in my mind that when that third and final verse started, it hit me in the heart with a wallop.

A dragon lives forever,
But not so little boys.
Painted wings and giant rings
Make way for other toys.
One grey night it happened,
Jackie Paper came no more
And Puff that mighty dragon,
He ceased his fearless roar.
His head now bent in sorrow,
Green scales fell like rain,
And Puff no longer went to play
Along that cherry lane.
Without his life-long friend,
He could not be brave,
So Puff that mighty dragon
Sadly slipped into his cave.

How many times have i heard this song over the course of my lifetime? The innocent and beautiful wondrland i was painting in my mind suddenly took a turn as i imagined Puff standing on the shore of Honalee waiting for Jackie to come. His heart breaking, wondering what he did wrong, while Jackie grows up and become a man and leaves Puff for good...

Is there nothing more heart breaking than a depressed dragon who is aching for his friend? In the end, when he slipped into his cave, i couldn't stop the big fat tears that rolled down my cheeks as i pulled into my driveway. I parked the car and leaned on the steering wheel crying into my lap as the full weight of the words washed over me.


this bittersweet thing that is growing up.

I am not naive enough to think that Chewie will never grow up and leave me, but suddenly there it was... one day, i would be Puff, and Chewie would grow up and while he would always love me and always have a place for me in his heart - I won't be the best number one playmate. The best hugger. The best snuggler. The "mommy".

One Day, Chewie will stop calling me "Mama" and start calling me Mom.
Then i will know, Jackie Paper will have come no more.
And i will be brave, but inside My Puff will sadly slip into her cave.

The lesson: To do it now. Be his Puff now. He will grow up too fast.
Thank you Peter Paul & Mary


Surprised Suburban Wife said...

This song always makes me cry. So did your post - well articulated. So true and so bittersweet.

teeni said...

Awwwwwww. I had to go get the tissues after reading this!

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