Last month, Rahul and I finished reading the Harry Potter series together. We just started it in November, so basically I was reading at least 2 hours to him a day for about four months. And we had a BLAST reading it! Oh my gosh, those books are good.
Harry is a hero everybody can relate to, but Rahul has a LOT in common with him: birthparents gone, suffered as a young child, suddenly as a tween whisked away to a new place by a big hairy creature (seriously, I tweeze a LOT)... He is known from Book One, Chapter One as The Boy Who Lived because he was the only person to every survive a "killing curse". And Rahul, also, has survived against incredible odds. Aside from the fact that he was one of about 13 million orphans in India, he also survived a physical accident as a young child that could have killed him. When he refers to it, he often follows with, "I wonder why God saved me?" (In other words, he has a bit a hero complex and I am happy to say that I encourage it.)
I also found myself identifying with Harry. So much was asked of him and he was often so alone in feeling the weight of the challenges on his shoulders. Single parenting a child with special needs can feel like that. The themes in the books were very deep and I found it interesting to talk with Rahul about which characters were his favorite and why. We talked about fear, death, evil and friendship and so many times I found myself enlightened by what he shared with me and surprised by what he drew from the text.
Reading is such a huge part of my life, and I was anticipating the day when Rahul would love it as much as I do. I have always read to him, but lately he has just devoured books. Last Fall we were reading The Secret Garden (another orphan who moves--from India, no less--to a new world as a tween!!) when he said the words I had been waiting to hear, "Keep reading!" I love when he begs me to read one more chapter. And honestly, what better thing is there to do with your child? Toward the end of the Harry Potter books we were reading 4 hours a day and he preferred to sit a listen to me read over watching TV and playing video games. And we laughed and cried together (sometimes I cried a bit TOO much and he had to ask me to pull myself together) and even the dog joined in as we would snuggle on the couch every night before bed to read.
And we're still going! After reading a few "rebound" books (It's hard to follow Harry Potter!) we are now reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder series. It's nice to read a series that is true and features a healthy, happy family. Last night we got laughing so hard over one part of it (where Pa beats down a stump that he thought was a bear) and Rahul kept telling me that part over and over as I put him to bed and the first thing he said this morning was, "Mom, remember that part where Pa..."
I hope that Harry and Laura and Mary Lennox and many others will continue to live inside Rahul as walks though life, and that they will always remind my Boy Who Lived what living's all about.