Milly Dotsey and the Boy Who Lived

I started reading Harry Potter books to Milly when she was in Kindergarten, going on five years ago now. I remember the first few nights of reading it, snuggled up in my bed in the townhome-style apartment we lived in for a year. It wasn’t very long at all, I think the second night I read to her, when she volunteered to start reading it. I remember being impressed with her ability to read words like “muggle” and “Dumbledore” without missing a beat.

Since we only read on the weekends she stayed with me (and a bit more during summer vacation), it took a really long time to get through the books. Eventually, I can’t remember with which book, I got her to start reading them on her own. I know it was by the time we were on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth book in the series, because I wanted to make sure I was reading to her when Cedric Diggory died, which, to me, marks the turning point for when the books begin to take a darker tone.

Of course with a ramping up of school work as the years progressed, there was less time for free reading and I think there was a bit of a break taken in the early going of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. That book also marked what seemed like a renewed appetite for Milly in reading the Harry Potter books though, because over the past summer she tore through that one, talking about how exciting it was and how much action there was, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I can’t remember exactly when she started the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but I think it was right towards the very end of her summer break. I have read to her some here and there over the last few books though, usually at Milly’s bedtime request, though sometimes when I knew something big was going to happen, like a major death. She’s read the vast majority of the books on her own though.

Milly’s been very excited to finish the series. She had six chapters to go when she came here the day before Christmas Eve and she spent a good portion of that day reading. In fact, dinner was kind of exemplary of how much she wanted to finish. We had chicken nuggets and kale and quinoa, all of which she really likes. After eating the nuggets, she asked if she was supposed to eat the kale and quinoa. I was confused since she’s usually excited to have it. I asked if she didn’t want it and she said she didn’t know, which is a point of frustration Tristen and I have been trying to work on with her. It’s a yes or no question, I told her. After pressing her, she finally admitted that she wanted to hurry up and be done so she could finish the book. I told her the book would always be there, but she needed to have a good dinner as I doled out a few scoops of the stuff.

As soon as dinner was done she put up her plate and was back to her room. She forgot to empty the dishwasher as I’d requested of her at the start of dinner, but she totally forgot about that. She usually does that chore without even a sigh, so I don’t think she was trying to get out of it. I told Tristen that Milly’s lucky to have a dad who understands the desire to do something like finish a book you’re nearly done with. She’ll just have to do the dishes in the morning.

I did ask her, before she went back to her room, if she’d gotten to the part where Hermione has to kill Ron yet. I even came up with a bit of dialogue to throw at her, but she just gave me a (deserved) skeptical look.

I went to Milly’s room right around 8:00 and asked what was going on in the book. She told me Harry had just died and chosen to come back. She offered to read it to me, which I accepted. I was planning on reading the epilogue to her to mark a bookend (pun intended) of having started and finished reading the series to her. She had a lot of starts and stops while reading to me though, due in large part to yawns, so I offered to finish it for her. I asked if she wanted to do it herself, but she said she likes the way I read it to her. I can’t remember her exact wording, but I put a lot of emphasis and tone in the reading, plus I do accents for all the dialogue. (I’ve been a bit inconsistent with Harry’s tone, but I feel I’ve been pretty steady with Dumbledore, Hagrid, McGonagall, and Voldemort. I attempted doing my best Alan Rickman impersonation for Snape during Half-Blood Prince, but it’s not one I’m particularly proud of. I think I can do the sneering cadence and style, but I can’t quite do an Alan Rickman outside of some Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves quotes.)

Anyway, I finished up from about the time Molly Weasley and Bellatrix Lestrange squared off through the end. Oh, right, it was right about then that I took over because Molly says, “NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!” and I asked Milly (with a smirk because I already knew her answer) if she wanted to read that part. She said she didn’t mind hearing or reading cussing from books, but she didn’t want to say it. What a sweet girl.

And that was that. Pretty big accomplishment, I think. I was always a pretty big reader, but I don’t think I read anything as large as those books until I was well into my tenth year. Fourth grade was when I first read The Chronicles of Narnia, and I think The Hobbit followed shortly after, and here Milly’s already finished the entire Harry Potter series, much of it all on her own.

When we finished Milly said she was looking forward to telling her friends Annabelle and Miles, both neighborhood kids, who have had to be careful of spoiling things for Milly because they were already through with the series. She’s also really looking forward to watching the last two movies now, and she’d like to do a whole-series marathon at some point. Maybe next summer, when she can watch one a day or something.

One thing that has surprised me, particularly since I read some of the sadder parts to Milly myself, is her lack of emotion during some of the big deaths. I read to her the deaths of Sirius Black and Hedwig, and I think maybe Dumbledore. She read the deaths of Dobby, Fred Weasley and Snape herself. For all of them, her response was, “I was shocked.” With Snape she said she was “really shocked.” No tears at all. Hell, I’m pretty sure my eyes got a little stung during some of those deaths, but not so from my sweet little psychopath. And yet, as Tristen pointed out, she starts to tear up when choosing what stuffed animals that she doesn’t play with and has no real connection with to give away. I think the closest I saw Milly come to getting upset was when they teased a possible Hagrid death at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows during what’s called the Battle of Seven Potters.

What’s she going to read next? Well, I bought her some books about surviving disasters or something at the school book fair and gave them to her for Christmas. (They’re historical fiction and Byron, or Mr. Holland if you will, her school’s librarian, said they were decent books.) She’s got some classics to go through, and she and I started Beezus and Ramona a couple weeks ago when she had forgotten Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at her mom’s house. So she’s got plenty of options.

So that was that. The rest of the day was a pretty normal one. Abigail came over to play with Milly and they hung out pretty much all day, which was cool.

Fawkes and Phoenix are still getting over their colds. Tristen sucked an insane amount of snot out of their noses before bedtime, but they were pretty good today. Well, until Phoenix got really fussy and clingy this evening. They both cried pretty loud when we laid them down, which isn’t common at night, but they were both out pretty fast. I’ve heard some coughing now and then, but no crying.

They’ve recently stopped finishing some of their formula bottles, which I figure is because they’re enjoying actual food much more now. Starting yesterday, we put about half formula and half almond milk in their bottles. We’re going to start phasing the bottles out, but I learned very quickly today that they don’t want to phase out the 11:00 one. I gave them four ounces each instead of the usual seven. They both finished at about the same time and really let me know they were not very happy about the shortened rations.

I fell asleep with Tristen on the couch for a bit, as is customary these days. We did a good bit of kissing when she woke up to put herself to bed. She’s an exceptionally good kisser. Why would I mention that? I don’t know, it was just really nice and a good way to end the day.