Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Road Goes Ever Ever On

Phobos: This is my magical golden sword. It's also a pretend axe. And a pretend bow. I can do magic like Gandalf, Gimli, and Faramir. Aha! *pauses* Phobos--that's my other name--he can't do magic.

Me: He can't? Didn't you just make magic with your story?

Phobos: No, silly mommy. You need a staff. Gandalf has a staff.


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Phobos (not his real name) is four years old. He is tall and thin for his age, has dark curly hair and enormous eyes. He's always moving, much more active and mercurial than our sedate second son. As he approaches five, though, he has finally gotten to the point when he will sit and let us read to him from Big Books. We have cracked open The Hobbit, which is the first Big Book I remember reading at his age. My spouse and I take turns reading it, supplementing the story by playing Lego® Lord of the Rings with him.

It is strange to watch my son travel literary roads I know so well, and to see him take completely different things from the experience. When I was young, I remember being very invested in elves and hobbits--in their small, hidden communities. The humans annoyed me in general (including Aragorn), and I was often troubled by the wizards. Phobos, on the other hand, has little use for hobbits. He's interested in Gandalf: when the lights went dark in the goblin cave, Phobos piped, "Gandalf will save them!" He is fascinated by Gimli and the martial abilities of the dwarves in general. And of course, there's Faramir. When he showed up in that video game, it was love at first arrow.

Phobos is the only Faramir fan I've ever met. He has assured me, in his most serious voice, that Faramir could easily beat Legolas as an archer. He tells me stories about Faramir, like the time he rescued a town from orcs by hitting targets, thereby causing the targets to fall upon the unsuspecting orcs. 
Leaps across Middle
Earth in a single bound

Phobos: Faramir has the staff that Gandalf lost in the battle.
Me: How did he lose the staff?
Phobos: He fell into a hole with the big, you know, balrog. He fighted it.
Me: What does Faramir do with the staff?
Phobos: He makes bad wizards into good ones.
Me: Saruman?
Phobos: No, Gandalf the White. Faramir made him.

Faramir can climb the biggest walls. Faramir slew all the ohliphants. Faramir even destroyed the Ring. His only weakness, for my firstborn son, is that he's the baby brother. Alas! I wonder what Phobos will think about Faramir once he reads The Lord of the Rings for himself. One thing's for certain: we'll be avoiding the books until he can handle the idea of a dad trying to immolate his own son.

Meanwhile, on we read in The Hobbit. We haven't gotten to Smaug yet. I'm not sure how happy he'll be with Smaug, considering he has long been exposed to How To Train Your Dragon. The idea of a cunning, ruthless demon of an elder age might be a bit much for him to swallow. Not that it would stop Phobos. I'm cheerily awaiting one of his alternate stories about how Bilbo trained Smaug and rode him through the skies of Middle Earth, rescuing dwarves in distress.

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