Should I Show My Kid Harry Potter?

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Malcolm Stories

We went to our friends’ house for a house party over the weekend. It was the kind of large, relaxed house party where multiple packs of neighborhood kids ran around creating mayhem while their parents swilled wine and hid from the kids. We had a fun time, owing mainly to the fact that it was not our house and not our neighborhood.

Getting Malcolm to leave at the end of the night proved a tad difficult, given that several of the packs of kids had congregated around the TV to take in a Harry Potter movie. Malcolm has never read any of the books nor seen any of the movies. His only real frame of reference to the geeky wizard was through playground make-believe play, where young Potter was often pitted against the likes of Yoda and Spiderman. Even so, the allure of seeing Harry potter up close and personal was quite enticing to the boy, and it broke his little heart to leave without watching the movie.

I must admit that I don’t know much more about Harry Potter than Malcolm. Being so wildly popular, I eschewed any contact with the Harry Potter series out of fear that there must be some sort of mind control implanted deep down in the text. (This fear of pop culture smashes being a brainwashing tool also led me to reject any involvement in such goliaths as “Survivor” and “The News.”) From what I can tell, Harry Potter and his gang of buddies are magicians who often run into bad guys. What I can’t tell though is whether the good guys use magic as I would, which is mainly to get a good look at girls’ underpants when they are least expecting it.

On the way home, Malcolm asked the question of exactly when were going to let him watch Harry Potter. I have three reservations:

1. I don’t get magic. I never have, and never will. Right now, I got it pretty good and Malcolm and I mostly do stuff that I enjoy doing. Opening a new and strange world will inevitably take me out of this comfort zone, and I don’t especially relish the thought of running around the house riding brooms and throwing fireballs. I know a large part of being a parent is finding common ground in which to interact with your kids. I just want to make sure that common ground is on my turf and not his. What’s wrong with San Francisco Giants 24-7 anyways?

It's a good thing he doesn't know how to really cast spells, or I would be done for!

It's a good thing he doesn't know how to cast spells, or I would be a goner!

2. Magic is bad news for parents. Kids are always looking for ways to countervail parenting techniques. In the parent-child struggle for dominance, kids cannot usually just snap their fingers and turn the parents into a brick of cheese when it is bed time. I fear that teaching Malcolm about the mystical fantasy world of Harry Potter will make him think that it’s OK for him to turn me into a newt when I resist his requests for a cookie. Right now, I can tell him that he can’t have that cookie in the morning because cookies are for dessert, not breakfast. That’s pretty logical and straightforward, and I like it that way. I don’t want some prepubescent douche bag wizard fucking that up for me.

3. Magic is for nerds. Anyone who has ever seen high school boys casting spells on one another knows how painful unchecked fantasy role playing can look. Harry Potter is the first step down that path, and when I see kids arguing over whether a warlock’s invisible cloak can adequately hide the sword of destiny, I want to take Malcolm far, far away. I know a thing or two about being a nerd as I was a pretty big geek myself growing up. A debate nerd in high school, I was comfortable with myself even though a) I spent the majority of my weekends arguing over social security reform against the debate nerds from other schools, and b) I spent most of my lunch periods playing strategic board games like “Diplomacy,” (with a teacher no less!) Why was I so comfortable with myself, you ask? I knew at the very least I was a rung up on the dorkometer from the kids playing dungeons and dragons. I know if I can keep Malcolm out of the dungeons and dragons room at lunchtime, then I will at least have given him something.

In the end, I know I can’t really control what interests Malcolm. We’ll probably end up showing him the movies, and if he takes to it, I am sure the books will follow. I hope that taking this plunge (and the subsequent brainwashing) won’t lead to us to stop playing baseball together and craning our necks every once in a while to get a look at some naughty underpants. That would really be sad.

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6 responses to “Should I Show My Kid Harry Potter?”

  1. Vince says:

    We have let him watch a HP movie AFTER he’s read the book (or we’ve read it to him). He started at age 6. We also are only allowing him one book a year as they get progressively more mature as he matures. In the end, it’s been enjoyable for all of us in experiencing the world through his eyes.

    • Nice call Vince, we’ll make him read the book too. I’m hoping that he won’t want to read all the books right away, but if he gets the shit scared outta him, our job will be done for us!

  2. Draco Malfoy says:

    Harry Potter? That movie series is horrible. You should have him watch all the Police Academy movies. That is where you’ll find award winning actors (Steve Gutenburg anyone?) honing their craft and entertaining the masses. The black guy also makes funny sounds.

  3. brad says:

    Forbid him Harry Potter now and he’ll overdose in college. In 15 years, when friends ask “how’s Malcolm doing in college?”, you’ll be forced to respond “he dropped out after a semester, ran off to Northern England to find Hogwarts because we refused to expose him to the books/movies at a young age. He doesn’t understand the difference between fiction and real life. But… we feel blessed, he could be off chasing some religious figment like the Easter Bunny.”
    Just think, you and Amy can be a cautionary tale to the next generation of parents just by denying your child of imaginary magic.

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