Sunday, September 15, 2013

Harry Potter and Kids Can Do Hard Things

At this very moment, I have a child who is crying and whining and complaining about having to give a one minute talk in church. 

This is a brilliant child who has given talks to the children at church many times. She's written them by herself, and they are well thought out and full of the spirit, and just plain wonderful. This is also a child who hates orchestra as it begins every year because "it is too hard." But she loves it by the end. Every single year, we press the repeat button. School is too hard. Math is too hard. That test was too hard. Opening her locker is too hard.

The funny thing is, she is a diligent, hard worker who excels at nearly everything she does. 

But she is also a perfectionist, and when something gets the least bit difficult, when there is a sudden chance of failure, the world practically ends. 

What to do? What to do? 

I know I can't take these challenges away from her. She really wants me to write her talk for her—I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to tell her, "Okay, you can quit orchestra. You're right, it is too hard for you, and any amount of practice and preparation will never change that." But I don't know what to do.

Can books help me with this? My first thought was, no. Because I didn't really see how they could, but then I thought about Harry Potter. Harry has to do a lot of really hard things. They seem very adventurous and exciting, but they are very hard things, many of which he doesn't want to do. Fighting Voldemort, dealing with Snape in potions, taking O.W.L.S. These are all difficult things that I could find parallels to in my daughter's world if I tried. 

But I don't really try. That is a shame. I'm going to remedy this. Why do I want her to read if I don't help her relate what she's reading about to her life? Why do I want her to read if I don't want her to take courage from Harry's struggles with courage? Do I just assume she will get these things by osmosis? Because at this moment, as she is stomping around, picking up our living room because she hit her brother in a perfectionist-fit, I'm pretty sure reading Harry Potter hasn't helped her much with bravery and courage. And that's not Harry's fault.

Any ideas on this would be very welcome!

Here's what we've been reading this week in order of importance:

Far, Far Away by Tom McNeal

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I really, really liked this book. I want to read it again. It is definitely filled with the Brothers' Grimm kind of horror. But it also filled with love and forgiveness and purity and searching and romance. It is well-written, and for me, profoundly beautiful, but it is for older kids, definitely, and if you're uncertain, please read it first before giving it to your child.

Shaemus read this and loved it:

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Fish Finelli: Seagulls Don't Eat Pickles

Pirates. Mystery. Adventure. Digging. Awesome. (7-10)

Lucy has been rereading this in her spare time: 

The Candymakers by Wendy Mass (9 and up)
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It is solace for her stressed, uneasy soul.

Mary has been reading this:
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Julie by Catherine Marshall  (12 and up)

Ahhhhhh, Julie.

Calvin has been reading this:
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I'm not really sure what these are, but he loves them. 

Flannery and I have been struggling to find a good new book from the library, but we haven't found many we've loved. So here's a list of some oldies but goodies we reread today and absolutely loved. 

The Gardener by Sarah Stewart
Goldie Locks had Chicken Pox by Erin Dealey
Best Friends for Frances by Russell Hoban
 My Penguin, Osbert by Elizabeth Cody Kimmell
Pedro and the Padre by Verna Aardema
An Undone Fairytale by Ian Llendler
Bat Loves the Night by Nicola Davies
Julius, the Baby of the World by Kevin Henkes

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  1. Hi...I just read the beginning of this post to my 12-yr-old daughter. Her comment: "I'd love to meet this girl...we'd probably be friends!"
    Your words painted the picture so often seen in our has been a time of change and growth and personal learning here for all of us. I never believed the people who told me the teen-ish years were way harder than the younger years...ha! I do now!!!

  2. I thought of this post a couple of days ago after my 10-year-old was literally in tears over having to remove a moth that had flown into the bathtub. It was pretty exasperating! I love your thoughts on pointing out parallels between books and real life. My kids would definitely pay more attention if I related their struggles (whether big or small) to those of their favorite characters. I need to think about that more often when I'm in the moment instead of after the fact:).