When the Darth Vader commercial for Volkswagon came on during the Superbowl yesterday, I said, “That’s just like Eli!”
“Huh-wha?” Eli asked, picking his nose up out of his copy of The Grimm Sisters for two seconds. “What’s like me?”
“Never mind,” I told my ten-year-old stepson. The moment had passed. But I’ll tell you guys instead.
Penny was about a year old, and was sitting in her high chair after a fine meal of cereal mixed with pureed prunes. Eli, who was eight at the time, was in full Harry Potter fan-boy mode – he couldn’t enter a room, put on shoes, or brush his teeth without a flourish of an mimed magic wand and an exclamation of “expelliarmus!” or some such.
Annoying and charming at the same time.
The great thing about the age of eight is that it’s prime magic age – and kids are still able to hold two truths in their mind at the same time. I have known so many kids this age who logically know there’s no Santa Claus, no tooth fairy, no Tinkerbell, but they make the conscious choice to continue believing anyway. It’s a tricky maneuver that I think many adults lose the ability to perform, but it’s something I’ve thought long and hard about for both happy and sad reasons – and I think it’s my favorite kid-trick.
All of this is a long way of saying: Eli knew the Harry Potter spells wouldn’t really work, but there was a part of him that wasn’t quite sure.
So there was Penny in the high chair, having just eaten, and there was Eli, practicing his spells, and he turned to Penny and said, “Penelope, you will poop right NOW!”
“BRAAAAP” echoed from Penelope’s diaper.
Eli made the best face ever: he turned bright red, gave a shrieking laugh so high-pitched that only very small dogs could hear it, and clapped his hands over his mouth.
Of course everyone else was laughing too, and we joked that he had REALLY done it, but I noticed Eli was a lot more careful with his spells after that. To this day, he talks about how freaked out he felt that day – as if he’d confirmed something he was afraid would be true. Because come on – would you really want that kind of responsibility?
Don’t answer that. I would, too!
Here’s Eli feeding Penny at about the same time … no poop, though.