Letter 4/Dear Skipper: I’m Not Harry Potter’s Aunt Petunia
Honestly, you act as though you’re living with Harry’s dreadful aunt, uncle and cousin.
I never read the Harry Potter books. I watched most of the movies, first in theaters with Annie and her middle school friends and more recently, with you. When Covid hit here in the spring, you did a Harry Potter marathon from your perch on the big stuffed chair in the living room.
Dan read you those fat books at bedtime. You both loved that.
But it has lately occurred to me, as I have mentioned to you, that you treat me as if I’m the horrid aunt, uncle and cousin who take in young Harry when his parents die – and treat him horribly. The Dursleys: Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and Dudley, who live at 4 Privet Drive.
I remember Aunt Petunia’s Violet Pudding, studded with bright red cherries and tiny candied violets, in their modest Muggle home. It was not made with Harry in mind. I also recall that he slept in a cupboard under the stairs, was locked in a room, and that his uncle put bars on the bedroom window.
No, Punch, it’s not like that at all here. For starters, we have loved you and wanted to be your family since the moment we set eyes on you in your infant car seat. But it wasn’t in the cards. The State has a say in such delicate matters.
And we do not favor our biological daughter, Annie, over you, as Harry’s aunt and uncle favor their spoiled son. If anything, in terms of buying things and going places, the scales might tip a little more in your favor than Annie’s.
As for Aunt Petunia’s dessert, well, you adore the famous Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies, Baker’s One-Bowl Brownies and mile-high Baked Alexas (typo intended) that have emerged from our oven just for you. (Sorry I’ve since given up sugar baking — I hope you might like buttery tomato tarts in cute pleated tart pans. Will try that soon.)
I wish to God that you could open your eyes and see — not the darkness in your past, but the light in your present. There’s nothing magic about that (is there?) and the intensive therapy we have started, provided by the State, should help.
I know you can’t just put down that heavy, scary boulder on your back. But maybe you can realize that you have been blessed with a home, and a family willing to help you hold the rock. No more stone soup.
It’s 6:13 p.m., time for dinner. Dan took you to soccer practice at the park and you’re not back yet. I think I will make steak and mushrooms, but in separate skillets, because you hate mushrooms.