Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Me, Luke and Harry

Deb: I drove up to the boy’s camp last Friday to take him and his fellow counsellor and girlfriend to see Harry Potter. They have been together for over three years now and we adore her. She is like family to us.

It was their day off and we were doing the movie and dinner and then I was to drive them back to camp and then I’d drive home. With my new Dick Van Dyke audio biography on CD, the prospect of a long day of driving did not seem daunting at all. I thought it would be fun, and it was. I only panicked about being lost twice. Down from my usual six panics.

It was to be the end of a lovely journey, this last viewing of the Potter. Like many of you, my soon-to-be 21-year-old boy has grown up with Harry. We read the first three books to him, and then he read one himself. Then last year, disappointed with himself for not reading them all, he challenged himself to read each one through the spring and summer, which he is doing. His girlfriend is a devotee and has read them all and knows them like the back of her hand.

So it was a trip we all very much looked forward to taking. But in my heart, I was on a slightly different journey. The prospect of Harry ending just as the boy turns 21 led me smack up against his coming of age. As I drove the winding country roads on the way to camp, my mind ventured back to sweet memories of curling up in his tiny bed reading about Hogwarts and kid wizards and watching him fall asleep with visions of sorting hats hovering above his head.

And as Harry matured with each book, each film, so did our boy. Which is why the last film was so poignant for me. I knew it would be emotional, but I had no idea I would start to well up as soon as FEATURE ATTRACTION blazed across the screen. I have sat through many a moving film with the boy. He is always so tender with me. As soon as he hears even a sniffle from my general direction, his arm is around me comforting me, making me feel safe to cry and show my emotions. And the Deathly Hallows Part 2 did not disappoint in that regard. By the end, I was sobbing shamelessly. So was Megan. And he comforted her and made her feel okay about it. Didn’t turn in my direction even once.

As it should be.

Thank you Harry, for everything. Luke’s all grown up too.

Barbara: It’s a big moment when a devoted son turns to his girl over his mother. As you say, Deb: as it should be. But still. It’s a turning point. And this is why Harry Potter is so poignant for so many of us. It is chalk full of turning points.

I was one of those moms who read the series to my kids, curled up in bed together. And the girls loved it. Even when they were young teens. That said, we did stop at the fifth installment because by that time they were both such avid readers, the draw of crawling into their own beds with the latest tome and reading through all in one go was too strong to resist. Plus there was all that requisite comparing of story points with other eager readers that needed to be done. Without me.

My misgiving is that because I stopped reading to them, I also never read those last two books. There were just too many other books on my reading pile that I HAD to read. And so I also didn’t see the last three films. I’m one of those people that has to read the book before I see the film. So now I find myself at the end of an era, both my girls feeling nostalgic and bittersweet about how much they’ve been through in exact correlation to how much the Potter kids have been through (without the, you know, quidditch, butter beer, magic and he-who-would-not-be-named). I feel a bit out of the loop. Hate to say it. Hate to admit it. But I lost the rhythm. The rhythm of Generation HP, as it were.

This is what I want to do: I want to curl up with my kids and watch all 7 movies, maybe not all in one go, but certainly all in one week, then see the last one (which is supposed to be wonderful) in all its 3-D glory in the movie theatre. And then I want to reflect on significant turning points both near and dear to my heart and as far off as a little place called Hogwarts. 


  1. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!! I LOVE Harry Potter!!!!! I actually saw Part 2 opening night here on the theatre on campus! It was packed, but I did not cry at all. Takes a lot for me to cry in a movie...I know.

    I remember when Harry Potter first came out. I was seven years old (I'm the same age as Luke). The first movie came out in 2001, when I was 11. Though it was a great ending to a great saga, part of me is a wee bit (oh boy here goes my Scottish jargon) sad that it has come to an end. :[ But me and my friends have enjoyed reading all the books, watching all the movies and having countless discussions and debates in the school dining hall.

    I think why I love this post so much is because all of us in a way have grown up with Harry Potter. Us die-hard fans have watched the maturation and development of a character that we have grown to know and love, hopefully us growing a bit in the process. I know I'm not the same person I was when I was 7 years old, or 11 years old. Very nice to know that you all are fans as well!!! HP forever!!! :]

  2. Kelly I LOVE your passion and I am so glad that these stories and movies mean so much to you. They will stay with you all of your life. yes, HP forever!

  3. One time when my son was, oh I think he was 5 years old (he was little, and we were still an intact family), one of our neighbors and her 2 little girls invited us to come to a 4th of July cookout and fireworks at her church. I should state from the beginning that her church is a very fundamentalist Southern Baptist Church, and it is one of the most prominent churches in this area.

    There was a church service before the cookout and fireworks. If I had known what that church service was going to be like, we'd've never gone. It was the singing of dirge like hymns and the bemoaning of all the different ways Satan is destroying our country. After the preacher did his hellfire and brimstone spiel, there was a slide show of the Satan's evil tools destroying this nation. The point at which the gorge rose in my throat (and the urge to scream at the preacher and spit on the floor rose, too) was when they flashed up a picture of Pope John Paul II. And, of course, there was an overriding tone of homophobia.

    During the slide show of Satan's evils taking over our nation, up on the screen popped up a picture of the cover of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. And, my sweet, innocent, clever little 5 year old son piped up in an excited, happy voice, "Harry Potter!" with a big smile on his face.

    It was a strain not to bust out laughing when all those stern, judgemental stares turned toward us.

  4. Rigel I love this story. I knew where you were headed as I remembered all the crap that emerged to the surface around Harry Potter, all in the name of God. But out of the mouths of babes comes the truth, loud and clear.

  5. Luke's supportive behaviour reminds me of the sweet and tender nature of my own youngest son who, every time I went to bed with a migraine, would come softly into the room and carefully tuck one of his tiny stuffed toys in with me — for comfort, I assume. He did this till he was about 16! One of my favourite memories of his childhood.
    And he has always loved it when I watch Harry Potter (or any, actually) movies with him. After he got his first glasses at age 14 or so, we went to a family gathering and a little cousin, about four years old, pointed at him and exclaimed "Harry Potter!" and then hung on him, thrilled, all day. She was convinced it was him no matter what anyone said to the contrary.

  6. We are going to see the final movie tonight. I'm so excited. I hate to cry during movies and I know that I'm going to with this one, so I will go prepared with a lot of tissue in my pocket.

    My oldest was just a small, busy one year old when I read the first book. Since then, I've read the books as soon as I could get my hands on them. The Hubby and I fought over turns with the sixth book when it came out. I have to say, I never actually read the 7th book, but I was on a vacation with a 12 hour drive home ahead of me. I bought the book on CD and listened the entire way home, sobbing at some moments while driving. My kids thought me crazy, I think.

    What a sweet story about your son. Thank you for sharing it with us. Long live HP!

  7. This is a beautiful post. It was just Beautiful. I also grew up with Harry Potter. It wasn't always my faviort in fact at first I didn't care much for it at all but as time went on It wasn't so bad. I have seen all the movies and they werent't bad at all. I have to say that I have not read any of the books. But yes have seen all of the movies. It's great how we can grow up with character or show then when it's over we feel like we have growen up with them.

    What a wounderful post.


  8. Oh, Deb, you had me crying--what a poignant parallel. Though I feel incredibly lucky. My kids are a little younger. My daughter quit reading with me in middle school, but made an exception for Deathly Hallows, and my son was in 5th grade and reading with me ANYWAY... then again, I was SOLIDLY, HOPELESSLY and COMPLETELY hooked at Order of the Phoenix, so I would have kept going anyway, but I loved the excuse to read them 3 times each as they first came out.

    (I don't want to know, though, that my son will at some point put some girl before me... though right now his response is 'moooooom, are you cryyyyying?' teehee)

    Barbara--start from the beginning and read them all. Seriously. And then see the movies. the payoff for the early ones, which are 'cute' comes in the later ones... it is EPIC learning fodder for a writer--how everything comes back in the end.

  9. Kate that is the sweetest story. Thanks for sharing. Thanks Molly I am glad it struck a chord with you. Yes long live HP! Thanks Lyndsie, I'm glad you liked it. And never say never regards reading the books. They are wonderful and so very very detailed. Stuff you can't fit into films.

  10. Oh, I love all your different takes on it (funny how there are fanatical zealots in both senses of the words. Best sign of a great work.)

    Hart, I will take your advice. I love that kind of storytelling!

  11. Miss the whole Harry Potter era. Maybe my grandsons or grandaughters will someday be into this series. I, for, one never read the books or saw any of the movies.

  12. We read them together and separately. We bought number six (or was it five?) and listened to it as we made our big move from Illinois to Georgia. We saw every movie in the theater except number five. It became a tradition to see the movies on Christmas Day and then go out for Chinese like all the other Jews in Skokie, Illinois. When we moved, we watched the DVDs on Christmas Day.

    I hadn't realized how much JK Rowling's stories had interwoven themselves into our lives.

    When the movie came to a close the other day and I sat between my husband and my twenty-year-old, I knew why I was crying.


  13. Yeah Madge, it would be wonderful for you to introduce the grandkids someday. They are magical-LITERALLY. :-)
    Lisa how lovely. I love the tradition of it. And I loved your last line.

  14. Thanks for writing this! I LOVE Harry Potter! Like your son, I grew up reading these stories and seeing the movies. I haven't seen the last one yet, and while I am really looking forward to it, it's bittersweet. That last little part of my childhood officially coming to a close.

    My dad actually introduced me to the books. He's an avid reader, something I inherited from him. Before Harry Potter, my dad and I each read our own style of books. Very rarely did we read the same things. (Though I do think he loved that I shared his love of reading.) But Harry Potter changed all that. He read the first book and passed it on to me. It didn't take long and we both were hooked. From that point on each time a new book was released it became a race to see who would get to it first and finish it first (I usually won). And then whoever finished first would start hounding the other. "Did you finish yet? What part are you on? Hurry up, I want to hear what you think!"
    And the conversations we would have about the books were wonderful. It lead to both of us broadening our horizons when it came to reading. He started giving me his Westerns to read, which I loved. And I started sharing my classics that I had been reading for school or my own enjoyment (he liked most of them). And it lead to more conversations. We still share books today, and I cherish that part of our father-daughter relationship.

    It's amazing just what an impact the Harry Potter books have had for so many people! I'm so sad to see it end!

  15. I absolutely loved the Harry Potter books! I read the whole series in under a week when I got into the last year when I was 11. Even though I haven't seen many of the movies because they seem very long, I'm really sad to see the last movie end. Anyway, thanks for writing this post, I loved it!


  16. Tomine, I love what this meant for you and your Dad. So wonderful. Parents and children reading the same book and discussing it. What could be better than that?
    And Cassie, maybe renting and seeing the last ones can be a nice summer project! So glad you liked the post.

  17. Oh. My. Goodness. HARRY POTTER!!!

    I, like many others, saw the midnight show (in England, no less!!!!! :D) and was just absolutely blown away! I am definitely going to see it again! But before I left, I was feeling very reminiscent, because, as cliche as it sounds, the end of an era was fast approaching and I hold a lot of dear memories to Harry Potter. So much so that I even blogged about it (link is below).

    Best. Post. Ever! Thank you so much for sharing! And happy-almost birthday to "the boy" :)...yay for the year 1990! :D

  18. "Hogwarts will always be here to welcome you home."Made my day with that one Holly. Your blog was wonderful, so rich with the details of your experience through the years with Harry and Co. The boy's girlfriend also thought that there was too much left out but loved it anyway as you did. Anyone who is reading comments, Please check out Holly's blog-LINK ABOVE!

  19. AAHH!! Y'all are following my blog now!! You are too much! :D

  20. What a sweet post, Deb! Love the way you speak about Luke, and him growing up.
    I never got into the whole Harry Potter frenzy, but I totally get what it means to you and your family! I guess, for me, the closest thing that I could relate to this would be movies. My mom took me to see "The Little Mermaid" when I was four. My took a trip to the drive-thru theater to see "The Lion King" when I was nine, and she took me to see "Titanic" for my 13th birthday. I enjoyed those times of hanging with my mom, stuffing our faces, and laughing and/or crying during those films. We don't really do it very much anymore, because of my work schedule, but I know this- the day that I take my (future) kid to his/her first movie will be special, indeed. :)

  21. My first son was a strange child who was born in 2001 and by age 3, watched HP movies over and over and cast spells on us and couldn't get enough of the wizard and his friends (and enemies, as they were). He read Deadly Hallows at age 8. And I took him to the movie today, sad that we'd never experience the beginning of this series together. But we did get to experience the end. That means something, too.

  22. Beth it's wonderful that you had such precious times with your Mom. From the point of view of a Mom, I would love to hear it. Tell her if that's in the area of relationship you share. It would mean the world to her. Maybe you already have. It's so special. Erica you guys will forever remember Harry and the end you shared. Sweet.

  23. I haven't seen the movie yet. I'm really excited to see it, but part of me is dreading it... I hate goodbyes. I read and loved all the books and they have pride of place on the bookshelf. One thing I think is really awesome about Harry Potter is how much it's got kids into reading and made reading 'cool' again. :)

  24. Hi Elle, yeah I hate goodbyes too. That's partly why I cried. Yes the reading is cool, is it's legacy. But I think we will see more of this franchise, I really do.

  25. My kids are 20 and 19. Reading the books (and waiting in line for book releases), midnight premieres, DVD releases, and costumes have all been a part of our family.

    I cried at the midnight premiere ~ one of those face splotchy, eyes puffy, ugly cries. My son gave me a hug that I will remember to my grave.

  26. Lovely post, Deb. I know it makes you a wee bit sad that your little boy's all grown up, but I'm sure it makes you very proud to see the wonderful man he's become.

    Harry, Harry, Harry...a subject I could happily talk about all day. My mom was a fan from the off, and one day suggested I read them, too (I think the second book had just come out). After that, I was hooked as well. When new books came out we'd race each other to the end so we could discuss it endlessly, and we love to watch the movies together. I didn't grow up on the books per se (I'm about 10 years older than Luke, and was a senior in high school when the first book came out), but they still represent quite a chunk of my life. It makes me sad to know it's all ending, because like Deb, I hate goodbyes. Endings always make me sad. But, there are two things that make me slightly less sad: 1) I won't be seeing the movie for a while (I don't do well in theaters, so I wait for movies to come out on DVD), so I don't have to say goodbye just yet, and 2) Anytime I start to miss good old Hogwarts, all I have to do is open a book.

  27. SamAnnesivaD, yes hold on to the memory of that hug. That's a sweet one. April I am proud of him. Prouder than I can say. I love that this has been such a big part of your lives. We are all connected in that regard aren't we? "Anytime I start to miss good old Hogwarts, all I have to do it open a book.:-)


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