If you’ve been a long-time reader, perhaps you remember my post, How to Tease Your Kids, extolling my love for teasing.
If I ever lose my love for teasing, my love for my children will likely soon follow. If I couldn’t tease them, I’d probably be a lot less interested in parenting, which is why I consider myself a good dad for devoting time each week to researching new source material. Part of the task entails learning details about my children’s likes and dislikes so I can tailor teasing to appeal to my audience. This is the teasing equivalent of when a band comes to Milwaukee, and the singer yells, “Anyone here from Milwaukee?” and the crowd goes wild. If I say to my son, “Anyone here in love with a girl named Lily,” it gets a much stronger reaction than if I had said “Anyone here have a crush on some girl, maybe in his class or the neighborhood or maybe that girl from TV?”
My ten-year-old, Optimist Prime, loves the Harry Potter books, and since I’ve also read them multiple times I’ve found the series to be a treasure trove of teasing material.
A couple years ago my wife and I sat him down and told him we were a wizard and a witch, but he was born a squib (a non-magical child born to magical parents). He asked if we were going to tell his little brother the bad news, but we told him it wasn’t necessary because The Fonz had been born with magical powers. This bothered him even more.
It’s probably better the kids don’t go to Hogwarts anyway since I would send them daily Howlers (an angry letter magically read in public) revealing their bed wetting or love for Professor McGonagall.
Whenever I go out to play catch with my sons, and I place baseball caps on their heads, I say, “Hmmm…you could be a great wizard in Slytherin. Or perhaps Gryffindor, but I think you would feel most at home in…Hufflepuff!”
The designation of Hufflepuff always gets a rise and stings a lot more than if I had placed them in evil Slytherin. I hope this insult of mediocrity somehow motivates them to higher success at baseball and all other sports requiring headgear.
If you’re not familiar with the specifics of Harry Potter, Hufflepuff is one of the four houses at the wizarding school, Hogwarts. The Sorting Hat is placed on each new student’s head to determine which house will be his home for the next seven years. In the first Harry Potter book, when the Sorting Hat is placed on Harry’s head, he thinks to himself, “Please not Slytherin. Please not Slytherin,” because he’s worried about all the evilest wizards coming from Slytherin.
If the Sorting Hat were placed on my head, I would whisper, “Please not Hufflepuff. Please not Hufflepuff.” I would choose Slytherin over Hufflepuff in a second. I would choose Azkaban prison over Hufflepuff. Slytherin may have the evilest wizards, but Hufflepuff has the lamest.
In book five, The Order of the Phoenix, the Sorting Hat sings a song explaining its criteria for assigning houses and reveals:
Slytherin takes pure-bloods of great cunning.
Ravenclaw takes those with the sharpest minds.
Gryffindor takes the bravest and boldest.
Hufflepuff takes whomever isn’t good at anything.
The Sorting Hat didn’t use those exact words, but he listed all the qualities of the students of the first three houses and then said anyone left without those qualities would go to Hufflepuff. Ouch.
If I were assigned to Hufflepuff I would immediately ask if anybody wanted to trade houses. Once I sat down at the Hufflepuff table, I would look around at the rest of the pathetic Hufflepuffians, and ask, “Did I mishear? The Sorting Hat mentioned a bunch of desirable qualities for the other houses, but nothing for us. Is that normal?” If the Hogwarts’ budget ever needs trimming, I’m pretty sure the auditors will come for Hufflepuff first. Nobody in Hufflepuff goes on to be a great wizard. A great janitor, maybe. A great wizard, no.
Optimist Prime is one of the few kids who wouldn’t pick Gryffindor if given the choice. He prefers Ravenclaw because the Sorting Hat supposedly selects the smartest wizards for this house, and his selection would be a validation. Gryffindor students are the bravest and always seem to find themselves facing the scariest obstacles. Bravery is not yet a quality Optimist possesses in significant quantities. Not only would he be terrified of the Dementors, he would be terrified while Dumbledore gave a speech about steering clear of the Dementors because he has a terrible fear of public speaking. Not necessarily his own public speaking, rather other people’s public speaking.
With the last movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, debuting, I worry I’m going to have to find some new source material if the kids move on. I’ve agreed to stop sorting them into Hufflepuff, mostly because the joke was growing stale, and now when I put a hat on their heads I say, “Azkaban!” They seem satisfied with the compromise.