I’ve written about how I hope I’m influencing Baby Brother’s musical tastes. But, I’ve also had the opportunity to influence the tastes of Little Man. I’ve had the opportunity, and the great privilege, to introduce him to… Harry Potter. In my defense, this wasn’t entirely my fault. Yesterday morning, when we were getting ready for school, Little Man said, quite out of the blue, ‘Put on Harry Potter.’
Now, Little Man has never (to my knowledge) seen Harry Potter. He has never read it. There are no Harry Potter DVD’s or books in the house. He’s only 3, so, even though Harry Potter is a brilliant, cross-generational, cross-gender communication tool, I think that, with 3 headed dogs, giants snakes that kill you with a look and evil wizards who murder your parents, its perhaps a little, shall we say, ‘advanced’ for a 3 year old. In short, I believed Harry Potter would scare the be-jeebus out of the little mite.
That’s not to say I wasn’t enthusiastic about the idea of introducing him to Harry and Harry’s wonderful world. Having brand new little people to read Harry Potter to is, I believe, one of the most compelling reasons for having children. Seriously. Its not just Harry, of course. I have already got my whole reading program organised for said potential future children. We’ll be reading Harry Potter (of course), the Little House on the Prairie series, the Chronicles of Narnia, Gerald Durrell, all of Roald Dahl, Round the Twist and Paul Jennings’ books, ‘Ramona Quimby Aged 8’ and ‘The Cricket of Times Square.’ Yep, I would consider having kids just to be able to relive all the books my Dad read to me when I was little (the less difficult option might be to set up a reading circle for children at the local library, but my brain doesn’t work that way).
Anyway, as I was making breakfast yesterday, and Little Man was watching Tractor Ted, I swear to God, he turned to me, took a deep breath and came out with, ‘Put on Harry Potter.’
I could hardly contain my excitement. To me, this was comparable to him reciting a Shakespearean sonnet, or suddenly declaring, ‘E=mc2’. ‘Did you say, Harry Potter?’ I breathed.
‘Harry Potter? You want me to put on Harry Potter?’
‘How do you know about Harry Potter?’
Blank stare. I tried another tact.
‘Did your cousin tell you about Harry Potter?’
‘Did you hear about Harry Potter at school?’
‘How did you hear about Harry Potter?’
‘Put on Harry Potter.’
Utterly delighted, but absolutely none the wiser as to how he had found out about my favourite wizard, I decided to stop questioning, and embrace the happy situation.
‘Where shall we put on Harry Potter?’
‘On the laptop.’
I might have mentioned before that I had been showing Little Man all sorts of videos on You Tube, mainly a song about dinosaurs, ‘Never Smile at a Crocodile’ and the ‘silage and Maize’ song. He really likes You Tube. So, I said, ok, once you’ve finished watching Tractor Ted, I promise to put on Harry Potter on the laptop.
When we went out to the computer, I faced a bit of a dilemma. As much as I was absolutely looking forward to the prospect of showing someone Harry Potter for the VERY FIRST TIME, and also watching Harry Potter myself whilst at work, I was still a little unsure of the suitability of the series for a 3 year old. When I typed it into You Tube, the top hits where dark green and black coloured previews of the final film, ‘Harry Potter and the DEATHLY HALLOWS’ (emphasis mine). Perhaps the violence and dark undertones would pass over his head. However, I am still haunted by the image of Tom Cruise playing a Vietnman vet, sitting in a wheelchair with no legs, in ‘Born on the 4th of July’ (sorry, Dad, but its true), which I saw as a little one, so I thought perhaps, even if he didn’t understand the violence and scary images, that might even be worse.
Then I spied one of my favourite You Tube videos ever. ‘Harry Potter Puppet Pals and the Mysterious Ticking Noise.’ I watch this little gem whenever I’m feeling a little down, and it never ceases to amuse and entertain me. If you haven’t seen it (that is to say, if I haven’t forced you to watch it already), you should watch it now:
Hooray! I thought. A G-rated, Harry Potter-related, fairly short video to show the 3 year old charge. I wasn’t sure if he would like it, or if he would be scared by the bomb at the end, but I thought it was the best option I had. I put it on for Little Man. He was delighted. ‘Put it on again.’ After the 4th showing, he was chanting, ‘Snape, Snape, Severus Snape,’ along with the video. I chose to view this as his deep and clearly advanced understanding that the true heart and soul of the series was actually Severus Snape (and/or Alan Rickman), rather than the fact that this was the first name to be introduced in the song, and the easiest rhythm to remember.
It was about the 8th showing that he acknowledged Dumbledore suddenly took his clothes off halfway through the film. He turned to me with a very serious face and said, ‘He’s got no clothes on.’ Almost unable to conceal my amusement at this very confused little statement, I agreed that the Dumbledore puppet had no clothes on. ‘Why doesn’t he have any clothes on?’ Unable to explain the absurd and hilarious nature of this randomness to a child who can’t count past 10, I said I didn’t know why he had no clothes on, that maybe he had taken them off. Maybe he was being silly and taken off his clothes. Little Man considered this answer for a while and then said, ‘Maybe he didn’t like them. So he took them off.’ I agreed that was a very reasonable explanation.
On the 10th showing, Little Man started to giggle at the end of the film. He started to giggle more and more. ‘That’s a bit of a silly man,’ he said, in reference to Voldemort. I said, ‘Why is he a silly man?’ ‘Because he has silly glasses on!’ And he burst into giggles. ‘And he has a silly head!’ See, even a 3 year old can tell that Ralph Fiennes’ make-up in the Harry Potter movies is just a tad on the silly side. And he clearly can already understand the basic notion that Hermione puts forward into the first book, which is that ‘fear of a name only increases the fear of the thing itself.’ This clever little 3 year old could tell that by laughing at Voldemort, he made him much less scary.
His final realisation was that Ron was also ‘a little bit silly’. Now, I promise, I did not prod him any of these directions. He picked out Ron as the obvious ‘comedic relief’ character all on his own. He’s clearly a genius, who is destined to love the Harry Potter films as much as his (soon to be forgotten) Australian au pair.
I know how ridiculous I sound. Almost as ridiculous as these guys:
Ah, but I can’t help it.
I introduced a kid to Harry Potter!