Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Saddest Thing

There are a lot of sad things about Harry Potter… it’s a dark, forbidding tale of woe and danger. There are also grand moments of heroism, magic, and true friendship, and I highly recommend the books to adults and children, but the sad moments abound. Go ahead, those who have read and watched, think about it and try to choose. There is a plethora of misery to pick through.

We watched the first movies in the series this past weekend with the kids. Brian has watched and paid attention to them before, but for Honor, 7yo, who watches movies very haphazardly (much like her mom) this was really the first time that she’s sat through them. She enjoyed the movies very much, is looking forward to the new ones now too, and was very tickled to report to me today that her teacher had asked kids in her class what they’d done on break, and nearly everyone said that they’d watched the movies too. Some said they went to the theatre, which I take to mean that the newest one is being shown here. I haven’t been to the mall recently, so this is (good) news to me.

One thing that confused Honor, was why the kids packed their bags, got on a train, and had bedrooms at the school. When the story in the first movie reached the point of the children going home for Christmas break, she was totally confused. I had to explain boarding school. She was horrified. Yea… me too. That’s my ‘saddest thing’ when it comes to each and every one of the Harry Potter books and movies. I’ll stop right now and apologize to anyone this might offend, but I can’t help it. I’m an attachment parenting advocate and sending children away to be raised by quasi-parents, possibly disinterested or dysfunctional teachers, and god knows what kind of peers, well, that tears at everything I believe in.

Sure, boarding school might be a blessing to some, in the way a well-run orphanage or foster care system might be. Harry Potter definitely benefitted by being removed from an abusive home. Most kids though are ‘regular’ kids from ‘regular’ families. Why put them in an institution for most of their childhood and adolescence?? 

Honor thought it was downright criminal. She interrogated me with the imagination and exaggeration that only a second grader (or a second grader’s parent) might really comprehend. Part logic, part far-stretching maybes. Would the school tell them that the child had to stay? What if they didn’t tell the parent and the child got on the train and couldn’t come home? What if they told them the child would come home, but lied? She was about to lawyer up and go after Dumbledore herself. I was not a very good representative for the defense. All I could say was that the parents would know, and most likely, would have to voluntarily pay for, the child to go to school and not come home again except on holidays.

She was appalled.

Me too.

Think about it. The child has no idea what to expect (unless they have older siblings there). No trusted adults to talk to, and all that can be hoped for is random good guys, although it is also likely that they’ll end up with the uncaring (Snape) or evil (Filch, Umbrage) authority figures. Elder students are given authority over the younger – elder students who may be bullies, or too busy struggling with their own issues to bother with the needs of others. Kids raising kids? Peers raising each other? No hugs as they get off the bus in the evening? No parental help with homework or social issues? No special wake-up on birthdays, no bedtime tuck-in, or after nightmare snuggles, or other little day-to-day love affirmations? And what about the issues children go through as they reach puberty and head into their teens and young adulthood?? As Honor would say… “But! What if…???!!”


If Hogwarts were a day school, perhaps there would be fewer Deatheaters in that particular world.


Shannon said...

I agree, although one of my kid seems intrigued by the idea. All the high school kids here go to boarding school. Between that the Harry Potter stories he has started saying he wants to go to boarding school. If he still wants that when he gets to high school we will look into it, I guess.

Connie said...

That would be a tough one! At least a teenager, who is actively involved in the decision making and would be mature enough to communicate his needs fairly well long-distance, would be easier than a barely turned 11yo, as in the series. My son is almost 10yo, and I know he wouldn't be ready to leave home in 13 months! Honor admitted that going on a field trip to visit a boarding school (and she specified "in America") might be fun, but only for a couple days, and could I chaperone?