What Would Harry Potter Do?

Posted on August 4, 2011


Kids like to be teased. When my kids say they don’t like to be teased I realize this is their way of teasing me back and begging for more teasing.

I tease my kids a lot, but I hope my teasing manages to teach them valuable life lessons at the same time because this helps as a defense when my wife says I tease too much.

Before watching the last Harry Potter movie, I got the kids the Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1 DVD, but I returned home too late to watch the movie that night and told them they could watch it the following day.  When the kids asked to see the movie the following afternoon, I told them the bad news, “Your mother and I watched the movie last night after you went to bed, and we’re really not up to watching it two days in a row.”  My ten-year-old, Optimist Prime, asked if they could watch it without us, but I reminded him we needed to watch it together because we wanted them to close their eyes at certain parts.  (Not a kids movie.  My wife covered her eyes for half the film.)

“I guess you should have watched it last night,” I told him.

“But you told us to go to bed,” he complained.

“Bedtimes never stopped Harry Potter.  He got out of bed all the time.  Harry would have found a way to watch the movie last night.”

“But I’d be in trouble if I broke the rules.”

“No,” I corrected him, “You’d be in trouble if you got caught breaking the rules.  Good thing Harry Potter didn’t follow the rules, or all us Muggles would be enslaved to He Who Must Not Be Named.”

“You mean Volde–“

“Shhh!  Don’t say his name!”

This is when my wife entered and asked what kind of message I was trying to teach Optimist Prime, and I answered, “I was trying to teach him the main message of the Harry Potter books: Adult are wrong most of the time and rules made by adults are meant to be broken.”

Every single adult Harry Potter character, no matter how intelligent and well-meaning, was wrong about something significant at least once.  The kids would go to an adult, rationally explain all the evidence of impending danger, and the adult would ignore their concerns and tell them to leave the situation to the adults, even though the kids had been right in the past again and again and again.  If Harry Potter hadn’t ignored adults, people would have died as a result.

Optimist Prime is a rule follower.  I was always a rule follower, and I trusted adults always knew best and had your best interests at heart for far too long.  We teach kids to obey and respect adults, but at what age do I tell him a lot of adults can’t figure out their own lives, let alone tell you how to live yours.  Always do what adults tell you, unless you’re pretty sure the adult is wrong, or had ulterior motives, or is biased, or not that smart, or is a stranger, or might be a Death Eater working for Voldemort.  He’s a very smart and wise ten-year-old; I would trust his advice over counsel from many of the thirty-year-olds I know.

I’m still trying to figure out how to teach him this message without him thinking he can check out when adults are talking. Also without making my wife upset. Also without my seven-year-old, The Fonz, overhearing because I plan to tell The Fonz to obey adults–especially the police–his whole life.

Posted in: Family