When Max gets sent to his room without supper, he sports an expression I am familiar with. His "arms crossed, angry brows" look resonates with me. And I would guess, I am not alone. In fact, I would argue that it is not the monsters gnashing their horrible teeth (though they are quite monsterrific) nor is it the exquisite jungle artwork (though it is imagined perfectly) that made Where the Wild Things Are a household name in 1963. I would argue, that it is Max's perfectly pouty punim that made that book - and Maurice Sendak - a household name.
In my house, if one child builds a block tower, inevitably the other knocks it down for sport. I have found lipstick on stuffed animals. Milk poured into the fish tank. A scissors lodged in the radiator slot. A wire hanger in the electrical socket (cliche, but true), all the buttons pushed in my car, my wallet under the sofa, children upside down in trash cans, the broom without a handle, holes in my wicker back chairs, busted legs on my coffee table, "dinner" made of found condiments. I know about mischief of one kind or another. I have sent my children to their rooms.
Mr. Sendak, may he rest in peace, could not have found more universal truth to highlight. Mischievous children are punished ... but their mothers love them nonetheless.
So tonight, when my boys are wrestling, and water gets spilled or a cheek gets kicked, and I yell "Enough!" and send pouty punims to their rooms, I will stop and smile and remember Max.
Banished, but safe, little boys in their bedrooms have the freedom to imagine themselves elsewhere. 22 foot chicken monsters exist in a playground of parentless pretend.
And so, while my exiled boys disappear on magical adventures to become Kings, I will anticipate their return and make them dinner.
Today's New York Times Announcement of Maurice Sendak's Death: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/09/books/maurice-sendak-childrens-author-dies-at-83.html