Thursday, June 16, 2011

Coming of Age with Harry Potter

About two weeks before Sam was born, the first novel in the Harry Potter series was released (in the UK.

It didn't make it here until after he'd turned one).

I didn't think I was interested. I didn't think I cared. But, at some point, when Sam was three & we were living in St. Louis, I decided to find out what all the hubbub was about & read Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone (I).

The movie by the same name was released just before Thanksgiving when Sam was four. Somehow, he & I ended up seeing it at the movie theater with my parents. I think we all thought it was a kids' movie. While there were very scary parts, because I had read the book, I could assure Sam, "They can't kill Harry Potter," and we made it through.

The second movie, The Chamber of Secrets (II), came out a year later (when we were living in Iowa). I'd spent that year as a single mom, at a new job (the biggest job of my advertising career) & hadn't gotten around to reading the second book.

One Friday night, after a long week of school & work (Sam was in kinder-
garten now), I took him to see the movie. This is the one where they introduce the giant spiders.

It was a bit much. Sam was covering his eyes & saying, "I want to go home."

When it looked like Harry was about to be killed by a basilisk (&, because I had not read this book, I could no longer reassure him), we left.

The next morning, I was telling a friend about how we'd had to leave before the end of the movie. Sam said he wanted to try again. I figured if he was up for it it would be better to make it through than to leave it hanging over our heads. We took our neighbor, Sam's friend, a little boy named Jon (who is a year younger than Sam) with us. This time, in the daytime, we made it through. Thankfully, so did Harry.

Previously, Sam had seen Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring (albeit on a small screen, in small doses, in the daytime, at home). And, a month later, he made it through Lord of the Rings - The Twin Towers.

When I wondered out loud about why, my brother hypo-
thesized that the "good guys" & "bad guys" were more clearly defined in LOTR & that maybe kids in peril, kids (Tom Riddle) out to get other kids was what was upsetting to Sam about the Chamber of Secrets.

While we were waiting for the next movie to come out, our friend, Janice introduced us to the audio books narrated by Jim Dale. We started listening to them & over the course of the next several years, we listened to The Prisoner of Azkaban, The Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince & Deathly Hallows together. We enjoyed them a lot.

Sam was almost seven years old when the third movie was released. (I'm not sure how many of the audio books we'd made it through at that point.)

We'd moved to Chicago & were a family with Cameron by then. The three of us went together to see The Prisoner of Azkaban (III). We were introduced to Sirius Black in this movie. I remember us enjoying it very much.

Sam was eight when The Goblet of Fire (IV) movie was released. The three of us must have seen this one in Chicago too. I didn't remember much about it off the top of my head but see it is the one with where they have the Triwizard Tournament.

It is also the one in which Cedric Diggory is killed & Harry & Voldemort face-off in a grave-

The release of The Order of the Phoenix (V) lined up nicely with Sam's 10th birthday. We'd lived in California for about a year at the time. We incorporated a viewing of the movie into our plans for his birthday party.

Harry & his friends start Dumbledore's Army & fly on thestrals to a fight at the Ministry in this one.

The Half-Blood Prince movie (VI) came out almost exactly on Sam's 12th birthday. However, we were at a family reunion in NW Washington at the time. We waited to watch the movie until we returned home so we could watch it with Cam. (He'd had to leave the reunion before us.)

Because we knew the story, we kept telling Cam, "You won't believe what happens in this one." (We celebrated Sam's birthday a few weeks later.)

The next year, between our trip to the Midwest & a series of visits by family & friends, Sam managed to turn 13 w/o a party. So, when The Deathly Hallows - Part I (Movie VII) came out, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to have an unbirthday party.

This year, "the epic conclusion of the world-
wide pheno-
menon," Deathly Hallows -Part II, (Movie IIIV) is being released the day before Sam fourteenth birthday. So, we're building it into a party again.

It has been neat watching Sam come of age alongside this coming of age story.

We're excited to watch the finale.

(Although, I'm even more excited to see what the focus of Sam's birthday party will be next year.)

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