Lay down your weary head, my son, and I will lull you to sleep with … a violent tale of death and dismemberment …?

Zan is almost nine now, and one of the great things about having an almost-9-year-old son is that the list of things I can do with him that I actually enjoy rather than endure has grown considerably since back in the days when he was a wee little tyke.

For example: Remember “Brown Bear” and “Goodnight Moon” and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and “Miss Spider” and “Dear Sweet Christ, My Brain Is Melting From The Monotony of Reading and Re-Reading The Same Boring Shit Over and Over and Over”? Yeah, me too. Thankfully, we have graduated to less lobotomy-inducing fare, such as the “Hardy Boys” mysteries (granted, still awful … but I only have to read them once) …. and, more recently, “Harry Potter.”

We started the “Harry Potter” series last fall, and I have enjoyed reading it to him at bedtime as much as he has enjoyed listening to me read it.

Earlier this week, we finished the fourth book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”

A whimsical, happy book cover that beckons the reader to embark upon a joyful adventure filled with the promise of magic and smiles and things other than,
you know, a gruesome bloodbath.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the roughly 700-page novel:

Pages 1 – 600: Harry, lovable little rapscallion that he is, gets in and out of various predicaments. Oh, Harry! You and your shenanigans!

Pages 600 – 700: He Who Must Not Be Named does Shit That Must Not Be Read … to an 8-year-old, anyway. Shit like murder and dismemberment and bloodletting and more murder and, hey, J.K.: Why don’t you just come to my house and jump out of my kid’s closet in the middle of the night with a fucking chainsaw and a monster mask?

I believe an updated book cover is in order, Ms. Rowling.
Have your people call my people.

Now, seeing as how I was the one reading the book, I conveniently bypassed the self-inflicted amputation, and I may have toned down just slightly a few other intense moments (although I don’t recall for sure; I was too busy having an internal debate about whether or not I’d made a mistake in reading this book to my 8-year-old) … but I mostly stuck to what was on the page … and, to his credit, Zan seemed to handle it all fine. In fact, the couple of times I paused to ask if he was troubled by anything, he explained that, yes, he was troubled … by the fact that I kept pausing to ask if he was troubled by anything.

Well, excuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse me.

Thankfully, several days later, there have been no nightmares or thumb-sucking incidents or seizures or any other outward signs of psychological and/or emotional trauma, so I’m assuming we’re good.

Now, however I have a dilemma. Two, actually:

1.) After completing each of the first three books, we watched the corresponding “Harry Potter” movie. And so, naturally, Zan wants to watch “Harry Potter and the Bloody Fucking Nightmare Goblet of Fire” … but I’m fairly certain scenes like this are probably a bit too intense for the 8-year-old demographic.

2.) He also wants us to continue reading the series … but with the storyline veering into “Silence of the Lambs” territory, I don’t know if it is wise for us to do so at this time.

Wise or not, however, I think we’re going to give it a try. I figure that as long as I’m the one doing the reading, I can improvise as needed.

And, as Zan said: “Daddy, I know it’s not real. It’s just a book. And, look, if I get scared, I can just picture Voldemort skipping through a field handing out flowers.”

Well, who can argue with that logic?

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