Raised by Harry Potter, Calvin and Hobbes, and Tolkien

When I was a tender youth at the age of 10, the greater parts of my day were spent playing witch craft school with my elder and younger sister. My oldest sister had been married and out of the house before I was conceived, and she was the housewife of a man who worked for a book publisher. None of that last bit really matters except for the fact that her husband could get free copies of misprinted books. The books with barely noticeable mistakes were my key to surviving a quite sheltered life in my younger days. The books with things like “Gumblefore” and “the spaghetti incentive” were my salvation.

My first passions when it came to reading were entire books of the comic strips “Garfield” and “Calvin and Hobbes”. I really loved reading them, as well as trying to figure out some of the jokes that were over my head at the time. I remember a (yet another) sister reading me Robinson Crusoe about the time I was entering kindergarten. I didn’t especially like it, but the main character’s lack of concern for his manservant’s cannibalistic ways did spark an interest in me, which to this day, I cannot forget (regardless of the strength of my efforts).

I read quite a bit from kindergarten to 4th grade, at which time I discovered teenage horror books. I read books from my school’s library, which honestly should not have been in the elementary library. Christopher Pike was the author, and the themes were mostly murderous stepsisters, and prom queens finding their best friend’s head in a dryer. A few cheesy books waiting to be made into lifetime channel movie thrillers later, and the greatest thing ever happened to me. My book connection (aka biggest sister) showed up with 2 sets of 3 Harry Potter books, including the most recently released “THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN”.

Game changer. NAY!

Life changer. (Yes, I was in love with Sirius Black, who wouldn’t be?)

I had found my home. After those were read and eager anticipation for the next book turned to frenzy, I discovered my next love, the works of JRR TOLKIEN.

If the Harry Potter books were home, then Tolkien and the “SILMARILLION” were heaven. It would be ridiculous to lie and say I had a healthy interest. No, I had a vicious obsession. With the Elves. Sindarin Elves, Noldorin Elves, Sylvan Elves, elves out the wazoo. I began teaching myself the family trees and lineage of every elf ever mentioned in any Tolkien work. I taught myself two forms of Elvish and practiced conjugations religiously. I really had found what made me happy.

After that, the need for more elves led me to take the advice of my one and only brother and start the Legacy of the Drow or the Legend of Drizzt Do’Urden by R.A. Salvatore. A new and fascinating realm built within the Dungeons and Dragons worlds that housed all of my elf dreams gratified.

Some Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, and King Arthur legends later, the real world came to the forefront. After becoming a mother of 3, I can’t seem to find the time to read, and by this, I mean that everytime I try to read, I fall asleep. My reading has slowed, but the love for those perfectly made worlds is still there, and I would give anything to be able to visit them more.


Watching a kind of hell unravel before my eyes. That is how I would describe the horrible moments leading up to yet another bout of violent sickness becoming visibly closer to erupting out of the tired, dried out mouth of my miserably ache-y 6 year old. Reflecting now upon the half of me that finds the first sentence I’ve written here long winded, and snickering with the half of me that loves the first sentence so much, and thinks I’m so clever. I feel deathly ill for the sake of my son and his 55th hour missed of school. Hour, not day. I have no good idea on earth why my son loves school, but he sincerely adores it. It may be more understandable if I consider the fact that the school work I had 23 years ago was not even remotely as interesting as the technological playplace our children have . It is easy to see why the really smart kids just keep getting smarter, but it also makes sense that the same kind of kids that fell behind when I was a child are still falling behind today. It’s not because of their attitude, their status, or their intelligence, if you ask me.

One thing I notice about the same category of kids that don’t do as well today, their parents may not be neglectful, but you canĀ  really tell what kind of quality time they put in with their kids, and the common ground on these kids, rich or poor, black or white, is the amount of concern they have for one on one time, and the kind of investment they put into time with their kids. Is it so outrageous to want to hang out with your kids? Is it that hard to want to know how your kids are feeling or wanting to tell them a story of your favorite childhood memory?

Let’s forget about their poor faces when you have to say no that you can’t sleep in their bed tonight. And just forget how weird they act when they’ve spent the night at gramma’s, and you feel guilty you’ve been a neglectful mother by allowing anyone else to watch over them as they sleep. Think about a kid actually being completely unable to get attention from a parent that does not think of them as a human being, at least not enough to give them any kind of special time to themselves.

There are many reasons why a kid may fall behind, obviously. I don’t mean to suggest that every child who doesn’t excel at learning in a set structure is neglected. Not at all. I am aware of jobs and commitments. I’m not talking about time that must be spent away from your family, I’m talking about using the time you do have with your kids to do something meaningful with them, or say something meaningful to them, or just get face to face on their level and talk to them about anything they want to. It takes such little time and means so much to them.

The kids that I see now and saw as a child not being able to succeed are the ones that don’t have someone personally invested in them. It can be a rich kid, poor kid, black kid, or white kid. When you have a child who feels like they mean something to someone, they do so much better at everything.

I absolutely am on a rant. I didn’t even mean to get on one. I just feel as though sometimes things get out of hand with everything in every day life that I am more worried about cleaning than I am listening to a story about Captain Hook and the Jolly Roger, watching the speed of a car Pokemon attack versus any kind of miscellaneous made up monster or bouncy ball, or listening to Jingle Bells, Batman Smells for the thirtieth time on the ever more obnoxious microphone. I have to remind myself what is really important. I have to keep reminding myself.

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Joanie is the elder sister of The Sisters Curious. She writes from home and wants to one day actually make some money off of her carry on sentences.