As the enormous summer holidays loomed before us last year I thought to myself ‘what can we do as a family that keeps us out of the sun and away from our iThingys.’ I decided to go old-school and start reading them a book, and Harry Potter seemed a worthy choice.
For some unfathomable reason, none of the girls had ever read Harry Potter. I think the fact that we had told them that Dad and I bought and read them ‘when we were younger’ instantly made them old-fashioned and embarrassing.
We got off to a great start, with the (then) five year old and (then) seven year snuggled under my arms, and the ten year hovering around in the background pretending she wasn’t interested.
It was going really well, until the local TV station decided to show each of the Harry Potter movies, starting with The Philosopher’s Stone when we were only halfway through the book.
Suddenly it was like we all had a ball to go to. The excitement of watching the first movie was palpable and we all talked about it like there was nothing else going on in our lives (there wasn’t). We even planned some special movie snacks.
The night came, and as the ending drew near, I found myself with a rather frightened seven year old on my lap. [Warning: spoiler alter] When Professor Quirrell took his turban off to reveal Voldemort’s head, well that was it. She was gone like a flash.
I found her playing in her room later, and when I spoke to her, she said she was ok.
Clearly that was a lie.
As the holidays progressed, my best sleeper suddenly didn’t want to go to bed anymore. She insisted on watching me lock the doors, made me turn the alarm on at night and tried to bribe the dog to sleep with her by hiding treats under the sheets.
But still she couldn’t even voice her fears, or put a name to the thing that was scaring her (‘he who shall not be named’ - well played JK).
By the time I figured out what was going on, I was faced with a sweet little girl who was now scared by bedtime, something I could strongly relate to. I was terrified of ET – the extraterrestrial living under my bed until I was about ten years of age, thanks to Mum and Dad taking us to see the movie when I was the tender age of three. They regretted that decision for years!
So I did what I tend to do when I am unsure, and I talked. And talked.
‘What you have to understand,’ I said ‘is that Voldemort is just a character played by an actor named Ralph Fiennes. And unlike Voldemort, Ralph Fiennes is actually quite handsome. To start with, he has a nose.’
A tiny smile.
‘And in fact when Ralph Fiennes goes out on the street, he doesn’t have people running and screaming in the opposite direction, he has people (mostly mums, I added) running and screaming towards him, because he’s just so handsome, having that nose and all.’
The smile got a little bit bigger.
‘And in fact,’ I went on now acting out my story, ‘if you ever saw Ralph Fiennes, I think you might actually fall in love with him and his nose a little, and you’d be all like ‘Volda-who?’ And you and I would get into a fight over who could ask Ralph to be in a selfie with us.’ (I started pretending I was jostling her, and holding up an imaginary camera).
‘I’d win mum,’ she said.
‘Why on earth would handsome Ralph Fiennes and his handsome nose choose you over me?’ I asked, pretending to be mortally offended.
‘Because I’m cuter than you.’
Maybe she is, but I’m smarter – and she hasn’t had a nightmare ever since.
Ralph – she’s all yours!
|thanks to https://celebrities.knoji.com/ralph-fiennes-trivia-13-essantially-fun-facts-about-english-actor-ralph-fiennes/ for this yummy picture|