We crunched through countless leaves, breathed the crisp wood-burning air, and debated over just the right costume.
As the kids are getting older, Halloween is also evolving. This year I only had two trick-or-treaters. Eldest was somewhere on the ocean blue, and Boy was deemed too old and went to a dance. Where once there was four trick-or-treaters, now there are two.
Hermione was practicing her spells and getting her hair ready. Apparently, even wizards have to do their own hair! But tragedy struck early when Hermione lost her wand at Hogwarts. We were right on time for a fun-filled evening when halfway to the first house when she realized she was missing a very special accoutrement.
I looked at my watch. “How about we go look for it after we trick-or-treat?”
The thought was too horrible to imagine. You see, after spending every penny she had ever earned ($36), Ms. Paige bought a Hermione wand. For three months she had looked at it daily, inserted batteries, and taking it out to wave around so the little magical tip would light up. And then every night she put the wand back in its special wand box.
For three months she had dreamed of walking around in the dark with her long wizard cloak, flashing that wand in the dark and lighting up the world. Go trick-or-treating without it? For shame!
So we went back to look for it.
We looked up and down and all around. It wasn’t in The Professor’s office or in the dining hall or dropped outside, or with Moaning Myrtle in the girl’s bathroom.
She put on a brave face until the panic was too great and mighty tears fell.
Soon, half of Hogwarts was looking for Hermione’s wand!
“Honey, I’m sorry, but I just don’t know where it is.”
“No, no, no!” she sobbed. “I need my wand!”
We were now, at 6:30, quite late for trick-or-treating.
When all seemed lost and Hermione’s devastation had wrecked her Halloween, Brother saved the day: he found the precious wand in-beween two couch cushions.
Never was there a happier Hermione. Tears were dried, hugs given, and finally we set out into the night.
With only a few houses left, we walked through crackling leaves and held out our pumpkins for a few more tricks or treats.
Throughout the night, many children wanted to hold Hermione’s wand. I have a very sweet Hermione. She has a very soft heart. She didn’t want to, but she handed it to children who waved it around to light up the sky with that special lit tip. She watched it carefully, nervously. You see, it had already been lost once and Hermione was feeling even more particular and possessive of her prized possession.
All was well until we came home and what should Hermione discover? The wand’s tip was broken. It lit up, but the clear plastic tip that sat atop the wand was gone.
Now, my sweet and soft-hearted Hermione could not handle this discovery. The great depth of despair was heard round the neighborhood, I’m sure.
“I’m sure we can fix it, ” I assured.
“No! We can’t!”
“This is the worst Halloween!” she sobbed. “I hate this Halloween. It’s the worst in the whole history of Halloween!” The sobbing went on for a full half-hour as I scoured Amazon for “harry potter replacement tip bulbs” to no avail. Tricky magic wand makers. You can’t buy a replacement tip, but you can buy the whole wand!
Hermione was so out of control that she was banished to bed. She cried so loudly that we could not be in the same room. Finally, when she was quiet and hiccuping I laid next to her on her bed. Her cheeks were wet, her hair soaked with sweat and tears. The sadness hung heavily in the room. Poor Hermione.
I kissed her cheeks and left. I went back to the computer and clicked on the Hermione wand. Only $36. Free shipping. I put it in my cart. But just before clicking, “Buy,” I let the mouse hover.
What was the right thing to do here?
For the first time I realized Amazon was not my friend.
When I was a kid and my toys broke, my parents most definitely did not rush out to the toy store to buy a new one. They were sad with me and said, “I’m sorry.” And then went back to reading the newspaper. They did not have an Amazon with a “1-Click” shopping option.
But…how happy I would make her, my girl who is truly appreciative, who says, “thank you so much mommy for being such a nice mommy,” almost daily. Who kisses my cheeks and never forgets to hug me good-bye. She isn’t a spoiled brat. She would truly appreciate this gesture.
Still. I hesitated.
If I clicked, was I being a hovering, helicopter parent whose child wouldn’t be able to leave for college? Was I enabling? Or was I just being nice? I remembered the news story I had heard on NPR that we spend way more money because of the ease of clicking “buy now!”
It’s just so easy.
I pushed back from the computer. I did not click, “buy.” And I was sad for Hermione.
The next day Hermione came downstairs. She was still down in the dumps, still mourning the magical tip of her special wand.
“I’m sorry about your wand,” I said. And then went back to doing the dishes.
That’s life, isn’t it? It sometimes really stinks.
A few hours later, Hermione had bounced back. She waved her wand around a couple of times. Adjusting.
One of the hardest things about being a parent in the land of more-than-plenty is saying No when you are able to say Yes.
There’s nothing in my nonexistent parenting handbook that says, “For best results, Do EASY!”
I wouldn’t fault a parent for buying a new wand, but I am curious. I could have saved the day, but I didn’t.
And just because we can, should we?