Maximus Prime, an 11-Year-Old for the Ages

Why, hello there eldest son,

At the moment this post is published, you will have been here on the “outside” for eleven years. That’s right…it’s been 11 years since a sea of masked specialists swarmed into my room and you came out peeing, just to prove that all those specialists were really quite unnecessary, you were just fine thankyouverymuch.

You and your brothers never seem to tire of hearing about the way you baptized the world upon your arrival.

It was a baptism for me, beginning at 4:07 on a slushy, lightning-filled Wednesday morning. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing when they placed you on my chest, an oblation. I think you can sense that I sometimes still feel like this, though you are very patient with me as I work on figuring it all out. So sorry you’re my guinea-pig.

So, here’s where you are at your 11th spin ’round the sun:

You are still wise beyond your years, while maintaining a charming innocence.

We have talked about how much I value your innocence–you love to play, you aren’t too cool for the Children’s Museum, you don’t cuss me out even though you might want to and I know that you know the words. At your last bedtime as a 10-year-old you wished aloud for a plush Olaf toy (from Frozen) and by golly, I am running right out to buy you one tomorrow, so much did it warm my heart to hear such a pure request. You are wise to be respectful of those adults who help you in your life, and innocent enough to still consistently give us the benefit of the doubt. But as others will attest, sometimes when talking with you it’s like speaking to the sage atop the mountain. Your insights about life, the world, and those with whom you share it are nothing short of amazing. You just might be the only 11-year-old who truly grasps the concept of white privilege, and can speak on it with eloquence.

You are incredibly responsible.

Tying in to my last point, you see your privilege as a charge: you should look out for those who don’t have what you have and help them. As someone who keeps a keen eye on the equality of the pieces of cake served on special occasions, you are well-acquainted with the basics of justice. I am so looking forward to the next few years, when we are able to work together to make the world even better…though you’re already doing a pretty darn-good job of it.

And thank you for being the greatest bathroom cleaner. You grumble far less than other kids might.

You also take all the little chicks under your wing…your brothers revere you, and you are immensely helpful to them. Though you sometimes grumble about the weight of it, you are a stellar example to your younger brothers. From you they are learning tenderness, compassion, and humor. Not to mention endless superhero/Pokemon/insert-obsession-du jour information. Sometimes, as you are well-aware, your brothers can be crazy, impulsive, and maddening. Every time they are whirling about like mini-tornadoes, not listening to a single direction I give, I look at you and it calms me. “They will be older soon, like Maxwell” I think. This does two things: it gives me hope for a slightly-more-peaceful future, and it grounds me to the beautiful chaos of the present. Because just yesterday you were tiny, and now you are not, and it goes so. fast.

You are my buddy.

Look, I don’t ascribe to the mega-attached parenting style wherein I think we’re supposed to be BFFs. You will come to a point where I annoy you endlessly, I know. I’m learning all about that phenomenon of differentiation in my fancy grad-school classes, and why it’s important. But for now, I am really glad that you laugh at my jokes. Our conversations are fascinating. I love that when one of your brothers does or says something ridiculous, we catch one another’s eye over the top of their heads and share a silent chuckle. Tonight, you lay in your bed with me next to you and whispered all about your fifth-grade life, naming no names but sharing your thoughts with remarkable candor. At one point I slung my arm over your ever-growing body (you’re up to my nose these days in height) and leaned my head into your shoulder. You took the opportunity to squeeze me in such a fierce hug that I couldn’t help but puddle right up, remembering the way I used to curl around your tiny sleeping form in bed and now your feet are pretty much the same size as mine. You were nice enough to stay like that for longer than is probably acceptable for a fifth-grade boy, and also to pretend not to notice or care that I was crying. In that moment, I felt like the luckiest, saddest, proudest, most joyful mama alive. My baptism of April 16th, 2003 was one of paradox. For showing me that many truths are possible, I am so grateful to you.

Happy birthday, dear Maxwell.

Categories: Max, Mostly Me | 3 Comments

In Defense of Ronald Bilius Weasley

So, a certain author who can’t keep her editorializing mouth shut just lobbed this bombshell into my life: J.K. Rowling said in an interview that she should not have paired up Ron Weasley and Hermoine Granger, but she instead should have married off Hermoine with Harry Potter in the famous series.

WHAT.

NO. WHAT. NO NO NO.

Okay, I realize there are some readers who may have no horse in this race. “So what?” you yawn, as you take your leave of my blog for something more your speed. But even if you haven’t read the series, or don’t care, the reasons I will defend Ron Weasley as a Very Good Catch for Hermoine or, really, any gal are universal and you might be interested to hear even if you don’t care about the wizarding world.

1. Ron is loyal.

Let’s face it: a more self-serving guy would have parted ways with social outcasts the likes of Harry Potter (delusional  hot-headed martyr), Hermoine Granger (Little Miss Know-it-All), Neville Longbottom (klutsy, bumbling orphan), and Luna Lovegood (serious weirdo) before the friendships even began. But again and again, he stood by them and stood up for them when it did him social or physical harm. Dumbledore believed so much in Ron’s loyalty that he gave him the deluminator, which lead Ron back to his best friends just when they needed him most. Even when he tried to leave and look out for himself, he immediately regretted it and walked back into danger because he couldn’t abandon his friends. That moment when Ron returns? I might have cried just as much at that part as many of the poignant death scenes, because I find that friendship and loyalty that Hermoine and Ron show Harry to be so beautiful.

2. Ron is brave.

Just because he didn’t sacrifice himself for the good of the entire world ala Harry and the big J.C. doesn’t mean that he isn’t brave himself. In fact, I often thought he was even MORE brave, in the true definition of the word, because he had more fear and he still stuck his neck out, again and again, anyway. Ron is the kind of friend who will play the most deadly variety of wizard chess, knowing he will get knocked out, just so his friends can advance to the next place. He’s the kind of friend who jumps into a frozen pond to fish you out when a nasty Horcrux is drowning you. He will hop on the back of a dragon if his friend says it’s the way out of a fix and scream the whole time. So yes, he’s as human as they come and has very human fears/insecurities. But he chooses to trust, and that makes him brave.

3. Ron is funny.

I have a hard time saying who my favorite HP character is depending on the day. Ron is among them, though, because he is consistently humorous. Guys with a sense of humor (especially if they can ocassionally be a bit self-deprecating) are super attractive. I also like it when people are funny without really realizing it. Ron is funny! Harry? Not so much. He takes himself too seriously. Yawn.

4. Opposites attract.

Apparently, Ms. Rowling has said in this article that she doesn’t think Type-A Major Bookworm Hermoine would be able to settle into a happy life with laid-back, happy-go-lucky Ron. With all due respect, Ms. Rowling doesn’t know me and my husband, or evidently any other happy couple who benefits from a incongruance of personality. The thing is: my husband calms me. His influence has been to slow me down, to make me see the everyday fun in life, to help me develop a necessary extroversion on occasions that warrant it. And I, in turn, have helped him to see the benefits of organization and applied motivation, not to mention a quiet night at home. Did it cause (does it still sometimes cause) some strife? Sure! But we are better people for it, because our personalities compliment one another. Hermoine needs a calming influence, not someone who will make every molehill into a mountain (cough*Harry!*cough)

5. Friends always fall in love. But sometimes they are just friends.

I’ve had a fair share of male friends throughout my life (lucky me!) I know at some points early on I would get confused about my feelings for these awesome fellas, because it all felt a little bit like falling in love. They were so fun! We always laughed together! They were so smart! They had tremendous talent! They were beautiful people! So then I wondered, does this mean I’m in love with them? The answer was yes, and no. I should note this applied to my lady friends, too. But in a heteronormative culture, I was always made to think that I should be on the lookout for boy/girl romance. I came to realize that yes, I was falling for all these beautiful people, but it didn’t mean that it was romantic love. But this is important to note: that doesn’t make the love somehow inferior. I *hate* the idea of Harry and Hermoine’s friendship being belittled by this latest interview with J.K. Rowling. Do they develop a great love for one another throughout the series? YES! Does this mean they should get married? NO! They are the deepest of friends. They tell others over and over again that they are friends, close like siblings. Hermoine NEVER leaves Harry. Never. It is because she loves him madly, because he is her best friend. But not all best friends are destined for romance, and isn’t that a wonderful thing? Re-writing her intentions for Harry and Hermoine sends a bad message–that a boy and a girl can’t simply be friends. I don’t like to say “just friends”, because that makes it seem a small thing. And it’s not. I remember getting so frustrated in college when mutual acquaintances would  be trying to convince my friend Charlie and I to become a couple because our friendship was “so cute!” Well, yes, it was cute. And we will always be friends. That is a very special thing, on its own. Hermoine and Harry will always be friends, and that is no less significant than Hermoine and Ron’s partnership…it’s just different.

I don’t think it really matters, in the end, that an author is backpedaling on a fictitious relationship(s) 10 years later. But it does matter, at least to me as the mom of three sons and the wife of one very amazing friend, that fellas out there know that girls DO like guys who are loyal, who are brave, who are funny, who are different, and who are their friend but also something extra. Sometimes it’s not The Chosen One who gets the girl.

Categories: Books | 9 Comments