Monday, April 25, 2011

Good Morning in Parseltongue

This morning I was woken up by a strange noise from underneath my bed. It sounded something like this, “SSalasshhhaaassss, SSSSllliisssishossss.” I looked under the bed and was confronted by the wild hair and morning fresh eyes of Child 1. She slithered out on her stomach and repeated herself. “Ssalasshhhaaassss, SSSSllliisssishosss”

“Does that mean you’re planning on killing me?” I asked.

“No, mom,” she said. “That’s good morning in Parseltongue.”

For the uninitiated, all three of you, Parseltongue is the language of snakes made famous by J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

We read the first Harry Potter to Child 1 when she was in first grade. At the time I thought we would work our way through the series at a leisurely pace, say one book a year. That way she could grow with the series. I wanted to make sure she would be ready for any frightening or disturbing material. I had visions of reading the books side-by-side, a sort of Harry Potter book club. With this in mind I put off reading the seventh book in the series because I was certain we would all read it together for the first time, later, much later.

Everything was going according to plan until this year. Child 1 is currently devouring the fifth Harry Potter while Child 2 is demanding we read Harry Potter to him every night before bed. At this rate the series won’t last us another year. And even though I’m sometimes tempted, I can’t protest. My kids have found a book that has taken them into other worlds and sparked their imaginations. What more could anyone ask for from a book. As for my Harry Potter book club plans, I suppose there’s always the Percy Jackson series.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Passover Dilemma

Yesterday I realized Passover was upon me and I was unprepared. To be honest, I’m always unprepared for Passover. My husband is Jewish. I am not, so when it comes to the Jewish holidays I’m always playing catch up.

When I dragged my husband away from the gritty streets of NYC to the rainy streets of PDX I probably should have given more thought to my general unpreparedness to host Jewish holidays but I didn’t. No longer would we be able to be guests at the Passovers of people who actually knew what they were doing. Mrs. Garbin, remember how you told me to pay attention so someday I could host my own? I really should have listened to you.

It wasn’t until our first Passover in Portland that I realized (gasp) the holiday was near and we had nowhere to go. I thought of Mrs. Garbin and decided to host my first Seder dinner. The first order of business was to purchase the Haggadah which gives specific instructions on the religious part of the dinner. I read it, highlighted it and handed it to my husband.

“What’s this?” he asked. I should have known I was in trouble but I persevered.

The highlights of that first Portland Seder were as follows:

-My husband’s observation he was the only Jew in attendance;
-the afikomen hunt (“honey, why are there Matzoh crackers scattered all over the dining room?”); and
-Child #1’s repeated assertions that “Daddy’s not Jewish, he’s black”. We’re not sure why but Child #1 has long been convinced that her father is African American which would be fine if he was, but, you know, he’s not.

Anyway, it turns out that I spent the first night of Passover 2011 watching Glee with my husband. I’ll be hosting an Easter brunch this Sunday but I’m considering serving brisket and matzoh ball soup.