Always one to eschew a bandwagon, I’d managed to evade Harry Potter mania for the better part of thirteen years. But last year, after repeated [failed] attempts at trying to entice the Gort into reading Little House on the Prairie with me, I gave up and pulled out a used copy of the Philosopher’s Stone instead.
For a week or two we’d gather in my room before bedtime while I read one chapter aloud. Usually with the two younger boys bouncing on the bed or talking loudly while the professor dozed, soothed by my excellent reading voice.
Less than 90 pages into the story, I abandoned Operation Hogwarts; finding it impossible to read with the littlest two hanging around or carve out time to read with just the Gort.
Nine months later, I dug the book out of the recesses of my closet and we picked up where we left off. [Harry hadn’t even made it to the School of Wizardry yet.]
I read a chapter or two with just the Gort….and then we moved to house number three and poor Harry still hadn’t made it to Hogwarts. A week passed and I vowed to finish the book once and for all. So we read another chapter together, and the next morning I walked into the kitchen and found the Gort sitting at the table with the book in front of him. I guess he’d done the math and realized – at the pace we were going – that the book wouldn’t be finished….until Percy turned 8.
Three days later he’d achieved mission impossible and finished the book-that-could-not-be-read. I assured him I would find a copy of the eleven year old movie, because I’d said all along that he could watch the first Harry Potter movie when he turned eight (after he’d read the book). I don’t really know why I’d said eight, but I did and he’d been asking me and reminding me for nearly a year. Even the Hen was in on it: ‘when Gaga turns eight, he can watch Harry Potter.’
And then, on the appointed Saturday night, I suddenly remembered that I had two other not-eight-years-old children and what was I going to do with them while my firstborn and I watched a movie?
So I did what I’d vowed never to do – I let the younger siblings have the same privileges as the oldest sibling, with no regard for age or hierarchy. [Am I the only one who harbored bitterness because my younger sister and I had the same curfew when we were still living at home? Really, what is the benefit of being the oldest sibling if the younger ones get to do everything you get to do with far less life experience under their belt?]
The four of us sat down and watched the (rather long) movie despite the fact that two of us did not meet the minimum age requirement and had not made any attempt to read the book. (In fact, it could be said, they’d actually sabotaged the reading of the book.)
We got to the scene with the Quidditch match between Slytherin and Gryffindor; when the Gort’s enthusiasm for all things Hogwarts reached new heights. ‘Ten points for Gryffindor!’ he crowed enthusiastically, as though he had a personal investment in their success. This did not escape the professor’s attention as he toiled in front of his laptop. ‘How come you won’t watch sports with me, but you get all excited about a game that isn’t even real,’ he complained from his kitchen office.
Finally, after enduring trolls and unicorns and Voldemort hiding underneath Professor Quirrell’s turban, the movie ended. The Gort was not happy. ‘But I wanted to see the part where Harry goes to the Weasley’s house,’ he protested, feeling cheated by the movie’s omission of such a ‘critical’ scene.
‘The movie is never as good as the book,’ I delivered the bad news.
Several days later, the eight year old stomped in through the back door after a disagreement with the Coach-Professor, during a round of soccer drills at ‘Coach Jason’s Soccer Academy’.
‘He’s meaner than Marcus Flint,’ the boy wailed unhappily about his coach-father. ‘Who’s Marcus Flint,’ I asked, suppressing a smile at the suspected literary reference. ‘He’s the chaser for Slytherin,’ the boy reminded-explained.
It was the ultimate insult.