Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What I've Learned From Harry Potter

I love being a mom. Not just because of the miracle of giving life and the overpowering, unconditional and unparalleled love that I feel for my children. Although that's all pretty cool, motherhood rocks because of all the things you get to do, read and learn about when you have kids. When your kids are tiny you enjoy all of what Blue and Dora have to teach you. I bopped to the Wiggles and Barney without worrying about looking ridiculous, because being a parent gives you free license to be as silly and fun as you want. After all, it's for the kids (wink, wink).

As my kids have gotten older, their tastes in books and music have obviously matured with them, so we now dance together to the Black Eyed Peas and LMFAO, and in the last year and a half we finally bought into the Harry Potter hype. When the Harry Potter theme park originally opened at Universal Studios in Orlando, we were probably the only people we knew who didn't care. However, at the start of my son's first grade year, we made our way to Hogwarts and reading in my house hasn't been the same since.

We devoured all of J.K. Rowling's books as a family. We would finish a book, then watch the corresponding movie. We finished the 7th book just in time to catch the last movie at our local theater. I'm not sure who was more enchanted by this fascinating orphaned wizard and his adventures, me or my son.  But after we had finished all seven books, watched all eight movies, and made a point to enjoy a butterbeer in the Wizarding World, I turned around and started reading the books all over again by myself.

It's just that I wanted more time with this wise, brave and relatable little boy who, despite his trials and tribulations, despite being picked on and bullied by many and hunted by He Who Must Not Be Named, never gives up on his fellow man. Harry never leaves anyone to die, be they friend or foe. His actions that leave the greatest impression on me occur in the Second Task of the Triwizard Tournament in Chapter 26 of the 4th book, Goblet of Fire. Here, four hostages are tied up at the bottom of the lake and each of four champions, one of them Harry, is supposed to rescue his or her own hostage and return to the surface as quickly as possible. Although Harry reaches the hostages first, he stays at the bottom of the lake to help free them all, not just Ron Weasley. Harry ends up being the last champion to make it back (with the exception of Fleur, whose little sister Harry rescues since Fleur had been thwarted by the grindylows).  Although technically Harry should get the third lowest marks, he ties for first place, because most of the judges determine that Harry's actions have demonstrated moral fiber.

I'm sure I will be taken to task by more traditional attorneys who believe only in the zealous advocacy of their clients, but I believe in my heart that Harry's actions during the Triwizard Tournament are a parable for how law should be practiced, especially in the family law context.   To me the hostages at the bottom of the lake can be said to represent a family tied up in a divorce or other litigation. Although each of the hostages had a champion, whom we can say are the lawyers, the lawyer with the strongest moral fiber was the one who made sure that everyone survived and made it safely to the surface. Now Harry was chastised by some who said that he should only have worried about his own hostage because The System wouldn't have really let any of the hostages perish. Harry feels like maybe he was stupid not to believe in the security of the system, for no one surely would have been allowed to drown. Or would they? But Harry's gut told him to help other people, even if it technically wasn't his responsibility and you have to love the boy for that.

Other than Harry, the person who inspires me the most at Hogwarts is its headmaster, Albus Dumbledore. Dumbledore never loses his temper or gives up on people. He never yells at anyone no matter how dire the situation. He always keeps his head and maintains a handle on things, with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face. Regardless of the circumstances, even when he knows he is about to meet his death, he doesn't panic. Oh, how I aspire to be as even-keeled and wise as Albus Dumbledore. How I wish I could be as benevolent and forgiving in the face of my detractors.

Yes, I've learned a lot from Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore, and I would never have had the good fortune to meet them, if I hadn't become a mom.