I never intended to have three cats. Really, I was fine with my aging one, Lola. She had never really forgiven me for giving birth to Jack but had finally warmed up to me many years later.
Then a year and a half ago, Jack made the pitch for a new pet.
Me: We have a pet.
Jack: But she isn’t really mine since you had her before you had me.
I saw the logic in his argument but wasn’t ready to give in yet. I explained that owning a pet is a huge responsibility and that he needed to prove he was up for the challenge. I told him that if he cleaned out Lola’s litter box everyday for a month, I would take it as proof that he was ready for his own pet.
Of course, it didn’t happen. For six months, that is. Then one day last May, he did the job. And he did it again the next day. And the day after that. Everyday for one month.
Jack: Mom, I did it! Can we get a turtle?
A turtle seemed harmless. A turtle seemed cool. I’d long ago put the kibosh on lizards and snakes, but a turtle, specifically, the Red-Eared Slider (the most common pet turtle) seemed reasonable.
Until I polled my parenting listserve.
Parent One: Absolutely do not get a turtle.
Parent Two: We’re in the process of transferring our two turtles out of their 90 gallon tank they’ve outgrown. They require UVA light and UVB light and are very expensive.
Parent Three: Did your son tell you they can live to be 40 years old?
That did it. If our turtle lived to be 40 (and I’m sure it would) I’d be in my 80s and still be a turtle mommy.
I broke the news to the boys. No turtle.
Jack: But Mommy, Colin and I would take Sirius Black (the name they’d already decided on) to college with us.
That’s when I suggested kittens. Two kittens seemed like a good compensation for losing one turtle. I was told that two would be less stressful to Lola, as the little ones would play with each other and not pester her. Plus, one could sleep on Jack’s bed and one could sleep on Colin’s.
We got two kittens. We named them Fang and Fluffy, after Hagrid’s two dogs in Harry Potter. And much like Hagrid’s dogs are facetiously named, Fang is the fluffy and prissy one and Fluffy is the short-haired alpha kitty.
But do these (now full grown) cats “belong” to Jack and Colin. No way. I’m their mommy. They sleep on my bed. They follow me around the house. They don’t consider themselves fed unless I put the food in their bowls. And, you guessed it, Jack no longer helps with the litter box.
I never thought I was a crazy cat lady though until the other day when I tweeted about Fang wanting to play fetch.
No wonder I haven’t been on a date in awhile.
Why am I so obsessed with Harry Potter? Long before I gave birth to two equally-obsessed mammals, I devoured Harry Potter like I did Sweet Valley High romances when in the sixth grade. I had the advantage of the first two Harry Potter books being out when I first discovered the world’s most famous wizard, then I waited with great anticipation for each sequel that followed. Every time a new book was about to be released, I reread the entire series. That means I have read The Sorcerer’s Stone approximately six times (okay, seven if you include the time I read it to Jack and Colin).
The one book that I had not read multiple times was the long-awaited last book in the series, The Deathly Hallows, which I had read (until this weekend) a sum total of once. Of course, I meant to reread it before the first half of the movie came out last November, but decided instead to reread The Half Blood Prince, one of my favorites. Then kids, work, and other books consumed my time and before I knew it, we were on the cusp of the hallowed (no pun intended) release of part two (otherwise known in my house as “the eight movie”) without my getting in a repeat read.
That did not diminish my spirit. The boys and I re-watched a movie a night leading up to the premier. I cried at scenes I have seen scores of times. I prepared costumes for myself and the boys to wear to the movie and a costume party afterwards. I continued to read The Goblet of Fire to Colin, but found myself weepy for no reason. When my friend Amy told me that her 14-year old daughter had proclaimed the movie release of Deathly Hallows, Part Two as the end of her childhood, it struck a deep chord.
I know Harry Potter lives happily ever after, so why all the emotion? I’m too young to look at Harry, Ron and Hermione as my children, but obviously am too old and too muggly to regard them as peers. While the Harry Potter series depicts a world that either doesn’t exist or we are not a part of (depending on your hopes and dreams) there are profound lessons in the experiences of these fictional characters. In a time marked by a serious lack of cooperation being displayed by political leaders, our elected officials could learn to rally together to confront a crisis. In an era where people believe what they are told without putting in the extra time to investigate, we could all learn to double-check sources and put critical thought into our positions. And in a world where friendships are maintained via text, tweets, and Facebook posts, we could all stand to remember that our personal connections make us stronger and need to be nurtured.
It is safe to say there is no book series from my own childhood that impacted me the same way Harry Potter did. As my kids grow older, I hope they will continue to reread the books, learn new lessons, and of course, memorize new spells.