Of Wizards and Wands and Family Bonding

When the final book in the Harry Potter series was released in 2007 (oh my god, ten years ago!), I waited in a very long line at the bookstore at midnight to get my copy. Of course. It was awesome to be surrounded by hundreds of people who were equally invested in a storyline I’d been following for years. My husband and I each bought our own copy that night because all that talk of “love is patient, love is kind” in the marriage vows clearly did not extend to waiting to read the book until your partner finished.

You don’t have to love Harry Potter the way that I do, but you’re not allowed to dismiss its literary significance if you want to be friends with me. No book series before or since has so captured the collective imaginations of our country for such an enduring length of time (and no, 50 Shades of Grey does NOT count). The Harry Potter series completely redefined young adult literature as a genre and has shaped the reading experience of an entire generation of children and young adults. That’s some powerful prose.

Over the past couple years, my oldest daughter has fallen in love with Harry Potter and I am beyond thrilled. She’s read the first three books and she is hooked. Of course. She is dressing as Hermione Granger for Halloween this year and decided she wanted a Harry Potter theme for her birthday sleepover. Say no more, child. Your mom is ON IT.

One word of caution here before we go on. Only enter the words “Harry Potter birthday party” into the Pinterest search engine if you have no plans for the next several hours. You’ve been warned.

As a mom, I make a lot of mistakes. I’m a terrible tooth fairy, I often forget our classroom snack rotation, and my kids have been forced to wear dirty socks to school on more than one occasion. And my oldest daughter is tough to please. She’s a perfectionist and she sets very high expectations, both for herself and for those around her. As such, she tends to be disappointed a lot. But I’m going to tell you right now, that party will go down as one of my great triumphs.

Nine little girls rampaged through my house for seventeen hours making messes and memories with wild abandon. They created wands out of painted chopsticks and practiced casting spells, laughing hysterically at the nonsense words they used in their incantations. They squealed and shrieked as they nibbled on Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans (which are impressively disgusting). They rehearsed and staged their own rendition of the first book (which bore very little resemblance to the original story beyond the names of the characters). But the most fun was a photo shoot with witches hats, wire-rimmed glasses, a stuffed snowy owl, and a big cut-out frame of a wizarding “wanted” poster. I’m pretty sure I had as much fun as they did.

It’s a fantastic feeling to share a passion with one of your kids. My daughter’s Harry Potter infatuation is really the first chance I’ve had to be genuinely excited about something that she is invested in. I’ve learned to be interested in gymnastics and princess dolls and books about adventurous talking mice, but the wizarding world? I loved it first and she is joining me there, rather than the other way around. I’m so happy that she’s arrived. It’s downright magical.

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