“Watch,” she said, smiling. “He has to touch everything along the way.” And so he did. I could see how, in his mind, a straight walk from one point to another was the most horrifying option available. He HAD to make it more interesting. So, he cartwheeled over the frame of the climbing net, and stopped for water at the fountain, and spun along the wall of the utility shed and then finally, skipped to the monkey bars, turning a 40 foot walk into an all-terrain adventure. He was poetry in motion and as I watched, I finally got the message. My kid needs bigger worlds and wilder adventures and I have been missing it the whole time.
Coincidentally, about two months ago, we changed the bedtime routine to include reading Harry Potter, which I love. At first, Little Dude couldn’t sit still for it. We expected that. He’s capable of reading the books on his own, but he can’t sit five minutes without fidgeting. So, when after the first chapter, he began to ask questions we knew he was paying attention and enjoying it. Every night, he remembered where we’d left off the previous night.
Finally, after a few weeks of chipping away at it, we finished reading the book and he was allowed to watch the movie. He covered his eyes with his blanket at the parts he thought might be scary. He’s certainly old enough to discern the fantasy of it, but was still engrossed in cinema’s remarkable capacity to scare the bejeezus out of us. When it was over, he had fifty questions, and I was delighted.
The next morning, he was walking around the house quoting in his best English accent, “Gryffindor!” and “Harry Potter!” My husband and I chuckled every time we’d hear it echo through the halls. Sometime in the late afternoon, he walked into the family room and said enthusiastically, “Mom, I want to watch it again!”
He was gravely disappointed when I told him that the rental period had expired.
“Okay,” he said, lowering his head, “then can we watch the second movie?”
Again, I had to disappoint him. “Not until you read the book. You know the rule.” He knew that this rule was hard and fast.
“Okay, then, can we start it tonight?”
“Absolutely!” I almost squealed with delight. I couldn’t download it fast enough. Within ten minutes, we were into Chapter 2 and I was having a blast hacking up the accents.
“Mom, what are you doing?”
“I’m acting out the dialogue,” I said, proudly.
“Can you please not do that?”
“What? You’re not enjoying it? It’s not making it more fun?”
He considered it for a moment, and perhaps perceiving my excitement, he resigned to letting me entertain him with it. We got through another six pages before it was time for him to go to bed.
The next morning, he asked again if he could watch the movie, and when I explained again that the rental had expired, he understood and was less disappointed. Secretly, I was plotting to buy it on the way home. Other than that, it was a relatively normal morning until we were nearly at school.
“Mom, I want to be a wizard.”
“You do? Well, then we’ll have to get you a wand!” (Also now secretly plotting to take him to Universal Studios as soon as possible.)
“Yes, you need one to be a wizard.”
As I recounted this story to his teacher, while we watched his imaginary adventure, she said, “He can bring the book in for silent reading time if he wants.”
Yay! I thought. This could be the incentive he needs to get through his work.
I had come to bring him lunch, so I sat down with him while he ate. “Hey! Your teacher says you can bring Harry Potter for silent reading. Do you want to do that?”
His eyes widened and he grinned so wide, I could see all of his teeth. “Yes!” He squealed. I nearly cried.
See, Ms. Rowling, in creating Harry Potter and his magical world, you have given my child a place where there is no limit for his imagination. The wheels turning in his head now are absolutely fascinating to watch. He wants to know more about Harry and Hogwarts and he’s willing to sit still and read it. It is a magical transformation. Perhaps it’s just maturity and I happened to discern that it was the right time to bring Harry into my son’s life. But whatever the reason, my creative, imaginative little boy has a new excitement for reading more than a couple of pages at a time. I am trying everything I can to help learn to manage the free spirit that he is, so he can function in a world that sees ADD as a disability. I don’t want to change my child. I want to give my little round peg the tools to help him succeed in a world that is designed with straight edges and 90 degree angles.
So, thank you, Ms. Rowling, for creating a world for his imagination to flourish. I hope it is the first of many worlds that he’ll visit as a reader, but it is the best first I can imagine for him.