My brother, who is eight years my junior, started reading the Harry Potter series when I was in college. I remember reading the first book on-and-off when I was home on breaks. We saw the first movie on my Christmas break. But as many people experience in college, I didn’t have a lot of time for fun reading, so I never finished the series.
I also maybe kind of just a little bit had no interest. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Sassymonkey says it’s because I lack whimsy, which is also likely why I hated The Night Circus. She has a point. I don’t get very excited by faeries or unicorns or magic or mystical otherness. My mind seems unable to go there, wherever there happens to be. Apparently this is a sad life to live, but I know no other. I’m all logic and reason and pretty-much-boringness, occasionally thrown into a tailspin by silly things like feelings and emotions. I figured, as I had no interest, that I’d never have to read the series.
I watched the kids of my friends fall in love with the series and slowly came to the realization that my time would come as well. At some point, I’d be forced to read it and, if not like it, endure it. Sassymonkey even, ever-so-kindly, bought my boys the whole series with the Britishisms (jumper for sweater, bogey for booger, etc). It sat on BigBrother’s shelf untouched. For awhile.
Late this summer, he finally asked the question.
“Mommy, can we read Harry Potter soon?”
I looked at him and sighed. Do we have to? I thought it, but I didn’t say it. I said that we would definitely read it soon. I made it out to be a big deal, because when a kid wants to read, you want to be excited about it. I figured if I could endure the potty humor of Captain Underpants, I could probably muster up some whimsy and make it through many, many pages of wizards and magic and who knows what else — all of which make me roll my eyes.
Our time began a couple of weeks ago when we finished off another series and were left with nothing else to read. Even my husband agrees — the series starts out slow. I wasn’t sure the boys were going to keep interested at the beginning, slow pace and weird words and whimsical concepts can be a turn off. But ever so slowly, things started to happen. Giggles could be heard at bedtime as we turned another page, all snuggled in BigBrother’s bed. We’ve always read at bedtime, and so this is nothing new. And yet, it is.
Last week, BigBrother asked to read for a bit by himself after we finished as a family. He does this regularly, so I told him that was fine, but he had to put the bookmark back where we were so that his brother didn’t get left behind in the story. I thought he was asleep about an hour later, but heard a noise and turned my head.
There he was, standing in his old man pajamas and a wizard hat.
“What are you doing? I thought you were asleep?”
“I’m a wizard!”
And my heart melted a little bit.
I shuffled him off to bed, grin on my face and happiness in my soul. Less so about magic and more about the magic of raising a reader. There are no guarantees, even with two parents who love to read and generations of various grandparents who love a good book. A love of reading is individual, so to see him falling in love with a book — oh, my heart. It is happy. I tucked him in and told him I loved his wizarding ways, but even wizards have to sleep.
Later that night, I tip-toed into his room to give him kisses, tuck him back in as he’s a flip-flopper in bed, and I found him asleep — wizard hat still on his head.
I had to take a picture. I needed to remember the moment. I needed to be able to show it to him someday, to say, “Remember when you fell in love with a story about a boy who was a wizard? Remember how that made you feel?”
A few days later, he and his younger brother were playing in the yard, buying things for their trip to Hogwarts. They had sticks as magic wands as they walked from one tree to another, pretending they were all separate stores. LittleBrother picked out a green owl of course. I laughed and quite possibly blinked back a few tears. Oh, to keep that kind of imagination forever.
I didn’t expect to feel this way, to look forward to reading this series. But, oh, I am in love with the magic — and it has nothing to do with the kind found in the books.