Wonderful friends wanted to help...and they did. But there is only so much friends can do. An amazing extended family offered lots of support, but most of it was long-distance. My husband was a great help, of course. Still, someone had to pay for all the diapers and Enfamil...so basically I was alone most of the time.
With four kids 5 and under.
Then, an eleven year old boy swooped in on his Nimbus 2000 and saved my life.
I had heard about Harry before. In fact, I'd started reading about his Hogwarts adventures at the urging of family and friends. But, as much as I love reading and children's lit, I just couldn't get into the fantasy genre. His movies got great reviews, but I never got around to seeing them. I was busy living in the real world.
By the winter of 2004, however, my reality left a lot to be desired. Crying, spit-up, sleepless nights and laundry piles were all to be expected. The reality of autism in my golden, freckled five-year-old was a crushing life sentence.
This time, when I entered Harry's world, I brought a friend. A troubled, often misunderstood little boy who knew broomsticks could fly and cats could talk. A boy who knew how Harry felt, because he, too, had caused trouble he couldn't explain and had thoughts he couldn't control. Someone who also felt like a foreigner among Muggles.
Every day after lunch, I'd hurry to clean up and tuck the younger ones in for naps. Then, my little wizard and I would snuggle under the covers and spend an hour or two at Hogwarts. I don't know who needed the magic more, the listener or the reader.
The delicious descriptions and delightful details of Potter's world made reading aloud so pleasurable. His friends lived and breathed for us and became part of our family. His enemies became real, as well, and made our own Muggle muddles seem a little less tragic. Harry's magic spells charmed us through many dark snow days, doctor's waiting rooms, and long, hot summer afternoons.
Now, Harry's back again and a lot has happened in the meantime.
My little bedwetter magically transformed herself into a big girl. In true Hermoine style, she has mastered charms and can cast a spell on unsuspecting victims. Her beauty is second only to her intelligence. She is comfortable being the only witch among wizards.
The twins, of course, are following in the footsteps of the famous Weasley brothers. Like Fred and George, their two heads put together cook up all manner of mischief.
And, although we didn't have a sorting hat or receive an owl-delivered invitation, my oldest found just the right school for his needs. Teachers with the patience of McGonagall and wisdom of Dumbledore taught him to read and write. To make eye contact and speak up for himself. To make a little more sense of his own world, to get along with Muggles.
While Quidditch isn't offered as an afterschool activity around here, my guy has learned to fly on the soccer field, at the gym and in the pool. Sitting still through Sunday meetings takes more effort than winning the Triwizard Tournament, but he gets stronger every week. Like Harry, he struggles to know who his real friends are, but those closest to him are fiercely protective.
This boy has a lifetime of battles to fight. But, I know, like his hero, he can find the magic within.
Thanks, Harry, and welcome back!