Tuesday, December 09, 2008

He Who Must Not Be Named

That's Eli 7.4 reading Harry Potter and the Socereror's Stone.

It's hard to convey how much of a thrill it is for me to see Eli having his first experience with the Harry Potter books. They weren't around when I was boy, so I'm seeing them that way for the first time, through his eyes.

We started reading the first book to him in early October, then read Chamber of Secrets to him in November. We're stopping there for at least six months, because the entire concept of Dementors scares the crap out of me, so Prisoners of Azkaban will have to wait for a while.

I've been secretly hoping, though, that he'd want to read the first two books by himself, and that's what he's doing now.

We also decided to let him see the first two movies, and that was terrific, except when I saw Lord Voldemort's face on the back of ******, I was reminded of what a powerful image it was, and I wondered if it was going to give Eli nightmares.

As it turned out, it did, and for three nights in a row, Eli 7.4 came into our room in the middle of the night. The plot of the dream was always the same: he met Voldemort on a playground, they dueled, he almost defeated him, but Voldemort destroyed him in the end.

Every morning, I told him that Voldemort wasn't real.

On the third morning, though, I remembered Frankenstein.

I've told this story before, but when I was eight or nine, I watched the black-and-white version of the original Frankenstein movie, and the scene where Frankenstein is chained up in a dungeon (I think it was a dungeon, or maybe it was a cell) really frightened me. Frankenstein was on a kind of stone throne, and his arms and legs were chained down, and there was sunlight coming in through a barred window behind his head, the shafts of light filtering through the dust.

It was an incredibly beautiful, evocative image, and it was scary as hell.

I knew Frankenstein wasn't real, but I also somehow believed that he existed, and I got particularly creeped out at night, including having nightmares of me being chained in the dungeon, unable to get away.

So when we went out to dinner last Tuesday night, we talked about his dreams, and I told him one more time that Voldemort wasn't real.

Then we went on to a far more important conversation: how to defeat him.

"Dad, how can I defeat Voldemort if he isn't real?" Eli asked.

"He is real--in your dreams," I said. "And if he's real in your dreams, why can't you defeat him in your dreams?"

"But I'm not powerful enough," he said. "When we duel, I can always damage him, and I can get really close to beating him, but he always casts one last spell."

"Okay, so let's think about this," I said. "So your spells are powerful enough to defeat him, but you never have enough time. So what about petrificus totalis?"


"Petrificus totalis. Remember Hermione casts it on Neville?"

"Oh yeah!" he said. "And Neville went stiff."

"Right," I said. "So if you cast that on Voldemort, he won't be able to cast a spell."

"That's a good idea," he said, "but what happens when he can move again?"

"It won't matter," I said, "because while he's rigid, you're going to snap his wand in half."

"Snap his wand in--HOLY SMOKES!" he said. "He can't cast a spell if his wand is broken!"

"Well, he can't cast many," I said. "The wand gives him greater power, so if he's without it, he's not nearly as dangerous."

"Right, but he's still there with me," he said.

"You can do one other thing," I said. "Use Riddikulus."

"What is that?"

"It's a spell that turns him into something silly," I said. "So you think of something ridiculous in your head, then laugh, and he turns into it."

[Harry Potter nerd alert: I know I'm abusing the canon a bit here, since this spell can only be used on Boggarts.]

Eli laughed. "Something ridiculous? You mean, I could turn him into an ant?"

"Sure, " I said. "Or a doodle bug."

"I could turn him into A TROPHY!" he shouted.

"You could," I said. "That way, you could keep him on the mantle, and boy, would he be embarrassed."

Thus fortified with ideas, he went to bed that night with high confidence.

And was defeated.

The next night, though, he didn't wake up, and in the morning, he came into our room. "Dad!" he shouted. "I defeated him!"

"You did?" I asked. "What happened?"

"We were on the playground, just like always, and I froze him. Then I then broke his wand, and I turned him into a trophy!" he laughed. "He couldn't do ANYTHING!"

Eli 7.4 1, Voldemort 0.

Frankenstein, watch out--we're coming for you next.

Site Meter