Our entire family has been sick for nearly two weeks now. It’s given me a lot of time to read and think. I began actually reading (instead of guiltily and covertly skimming) the Harry Potter series for the first time ever.
I know. How can I even claim to be a well-read person without having read some of the most popular books of the last 20 years? (Ahem. I also haven’t read the Hunger Games series after book one bored me to tears. And I’m not touching the 50 Shades series or the Twilight series with a 39-1/2 foot pole. But I still consider myself to be fairly well-read if you consider the grander scheme of history.)
You have to consider that when I was entering Bible college, the fiercest debate on campus was whether or not Harry Potter was “of the devil.” I personally hadn’t read them, but I wasn’t opposed to C.S. Lewis or Tolkien’s use of magic in their books. However, in order to avoid needless conflict with all of the Bible and Theology majors (whom I might have been scoping out for a future husband), I abstained from reading them. And then I “didn’t have time” because of college life and four part-time jobs. And then marriage. And kids. I did watch and love the movies. I wanted to carve time to see if I liked Rowling’s writing style.
I suppose my abstaining was because I wanted a reason to read them or a reason NOT to read them, instead of just this philosophical debate about something I wasn’t familiar with. Much like why I avoided drinking alcohol until I turned 30. I needed to sort out for myself what I had been taught in the past by my parents and my church versus what I thought was permissible, also integrating into my reasoning cultural variances, sounder theology, and lived experience with addicts and individuals who suffer long-term bodily effects of immeasurable alcohol consumption.
I decided now was the time to read Harry Potter for myself, because my oldest child is eight and will soon be wading into the young adult literature world after rampant inundation in beautiful classic literature for the last six years. This summer is dedicated to me pre-reading all of the young adult literature that is on the “reading lists” that I haven’t read. I have about 90 or 100 books to read this summer to sift through for beauty and truth and goodness. If a book hasn’t got any of those (or at least points of theological discussion) in decent amounts, I’ll chuck it.
I always love Sally Clarkson’s illustration of treating our children’s hearts like treasure chests and to be very careful to put good and beautiful things, things that point to the source of goodness and beauty into those treasure chests. That’s why our children have watched so few movies and spend so very little time interacting with technology. Because we don’t believe that passive screen time is a source of goodness and beauty.
That being said, sickness happens. And last week, our kids had fevers over 100 for six days straight. Six respiratory viruses, five cases of pink eye, and one ear infection, and we still have four feverish individuals in the family.
Last week was survival mode.
So the kids watched more movies than you could shake a stick at. But this week, I’ve been weaning them off of the screens, because isn’t that how it goes? You let them have something passive, something they don’t have to work for, a brain candy of sorts, and then they fight and struggle and whine when you attempt to take it away! So they’ve gone three days without any screen time. Not very willingly. But I’ve pulled out Duplos that they haven’t played with for a couple months and a couple messy activities (like archaeology) that I’ve had squirreled away.
But I haven’t gone without the screen time myself. Hardy har har. As I finish each Harry Potter book, I’m re-watching the films to see what the films left out and added in. I’ve become that weird book person that I normally am, ardently declaring “the book was better!” after each film. And they are because they’re delightfully and wittily written. But I’m glad I waited until I was on my own terms to read them instead of reading them in order to fit in. And for those interested? We’ll be waiting to experience them with our 8-year-old until he’s at least 12.