When Harry Potter first came out, I didn't read them. Not because I didn't think they'd be good - after all, Katrina read them all and raved. But even without reading them, seeing children lined up around the block for a 700+ page book made me realize they were magic. I decided there were plenty of books for me to read and that I'd buy them to read with my future children.
We read the first book together when Joseph was in first grade. While he struggled to remember twenty-five sight words, I read it to both him and his sister, moving my finger along like Aticus to Scout and hoping something would click and he'd have his "water" moment.
Months later, as we inched our way through the book, it was Harry Potter that I heard him reading out loud after ten weeks in tutoring, his voice barely stammering as he spoke the words.
He shifted to Percy Jackson and Jurassic Park after that and then, last year, we started listening to the audio books. As we drove the deep green highways of Washington and Oregon, hugging cliffs that opened to stunning vistas, we listened as Harry, Hermione, and Ron grew and struggled. We drove under overhanging trees blocking out the sun as Harry and Cedric went deeper into the maze and cried together as the senselessness of it all became apparent.
We pushed pause and spoke of the Dementors. Joseph pondered how the story would be different from Hermione's point of view and wondered if Ron would ever understand that he was as bad as anyone for not noticing the plight of the house elves.
When we got home, life got busy and we struggled to listen to Order of the Phoneix. Joseph pushed ahead of me, finally getting frustrated with the slow pace and grabbing the book off his shelf to finish it.
He read it while camping, curled up on the air mattress, reading some aloud to Holden, apologizing that it might not make sense to his little friend. He read it sitting at the picnic table and under the branches of a eucalyptus fort.
He almost finished it last night, snuggled up on the couch and awake until nearly midnight when he finally fell asleep, holding the book in his arms. He woke up this morning, reading the rest, whispering the whole time, "Oh no."
He handed it to me this morning and said, "It gets grim." He's starting Half-Blood Prince tonight and is excited for me to catch up.
Liz still isn't a fan, maybe later when she's a bit older, she'll understand the appeal and while I'd have loved to have waited until she was ready, I am so very glad I am experiencing these stories now for the first time with Joseph.
There will be so many books and movies and things Liz and I will bond over simply because we're mother and daughter, the two ladies in the family. As it is, we shop together, grabbing Starbucks as we wander the aisles of Target, chatting about school while she tells me that no, I can't pull off the boho look anymore. We curl up on the couch together and watch old movies, black and whites being her favorites, both of us getting teary eyed at the endings of sappy romances. We share looks, sometimes, the looks of women shaking their heads over the man in their lives as we ponder why Joseph can't seem to ever find his socks.
With Joseph, though, I'm glad I waited to read them with him. I'm glad we're both shocked, surprised, excited, and discovering characters at the same time. I'm glad I don't know everything that happens, that we can both be childlike in our newfound wonder as we dive deeper into the Potter world.
I'm glad he's ahead of me. I'm glad he's able to pat me on the shoulder and tell me it's going to be okay as he hands me the book. I'm glad we're staying up late to finish them together, each of us sharing space while also sharing the same magical world.
I could have never imagined what a fantastic decision it was, all those years ago, to put off reading a book. At the time, I felt somewhat silly and overly romantic. I wasn't even dating anyone, let alone someone I thought I'd have children with.
Having a family was a dream. Putting off reading the book was a down payment on that dream, an action that said, someday, one day, I'll be sitting on the couch with my child, reading the stories that have entranced millions and sharing the same wonder.