Reading The Hunger Games With My Mom

When my little sister started exhibiting the symptoms of tweendom – texting, talking back, wearing glitter eyeshadow – my dad was flummoxed. How could he keep his strong fatherly ties to his baby girl in the face of all this newfound sass and maturity?

Needing something to reopen the lines of communication, he turned to pop culture. At the time, she was into a new, colorful Disney Channel show called Hannah Montana. Hit with teenybopper inspiration, my dad went to Claire’s and bought her a bright pink watch with Miley Cyrus’ big chompin’ smile on it. Then, they sat down to enjoy an episode together.

It wasn’t a bad plan. Books and TV have always been my parents’ way into their kiddies’ hearts. No complaints.

When I was growing up, the four members of my family always wore themed costumes for Purim, which is, in John McCain’s words, “Jewish Halloween.” The Purim I turned fifteen, I convinced my entire family to dress like characters from The Lord of the Rings.

I was Frodo, my blond sister was Legolas, my rugged, bearded dad was Aragorn, and my mom was beautiful Arwen. She even glued latex elf tips on her ears. Removing them that night caused pained shrieks and torn skin, but my mom never complained about “the Purim of the Rings.”

I’ve never felt more loved.

In the past, to appease the fandom desires of their kids, my parents have: attended midnight screenings of all LOTR movies, seen four *NSync concerts, dressed up like the Teletubbies, driven two hours to a book signing by the cast of ‘RENT’ and DVRed every episode of Ryan Seacrest’s daily talk show. (Remember that? Of course you don’t.)

The big one for me and my mom was Harry Potter. I was nine when the first book came out. My mom read chapters to me every night as a bedtime story.

We shared Harry Potter for the next ten years – seeing the movies together, discussing theories about the final book and buying Slytherin (me) and Gryffindor (her) merchandise.

Six years ago, when I went to college, Potterdom waned and my unsupervised house (unfortunately?) became a Cullen vampire den. My sister plastered her bedroom door with posters of Robert Pattinson’s cold, pale face. My mom unflinchingly referenced their shared Twilight obsession to two hundred people in a speech she gave at our synagogue.

Sure, she’d been a “Potterhead” with me, but loving Twilight let my mom into my sister’s usually closed-off teenage life. Maybe my sis would never tell my mom about crazy high school parties or share her endless boy troubles, but my mom felt she’d always have a close bond with her youngest daughter through Bella Swan’s story.

Last year, I started the first book of the Hunger Games trilogy out of mild curiosity and then didn’t pick my head up off the pages for a week. It was like time travel. One minute I was in my room casually opening the book; the next, my hair was braided and I was wearing a bow and a quiver of arrows on my back.

When I finished the book, I texted my mom to tell her she should read it. I wasn’t expecting her to actually do it though. I’d grown up. She didn’t need to relate to me through pop culture anymore. We could just talk like two boring adults. Secretly, I missed flailing about a series with her.

She called me a few weeks later to say she’d finished the entire Hunger Games series and was obsessed. She was eager to dissect Katniss’ woes and expound on the book’s larger, relevant themes of poverty and oppression. Just when I started thinking I was too old to dive back into fangirl discussions with my mom, it was starting again.

I now live thousands of miles away from home, but it felt like I was back in my childhood bed, tucked in tight, with my mom reading The Sorcerer’s Stone beside me: “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much…”

“Why do you always get into the stuff I’m into?” I asked her recently, during a conversation about seeing the Hunger Games movie when it comes out on Friday at the same time but in different cities because we’re nerds.

“You sharing a book with me always makes me happy,” my mom replied. “It’s priceless that you’re willing to share the whole experience of it with me.”

“Aw, Mom,” I told her. “The pleasure’s always been all mine.” TC mark

image – michi003

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  • Jen

    sweet <3

  • Maja

    This warmed my heart so, so much…I’ve never felt such need to cry from too much sweetness :DD I just hope I will be half the parent yours have been. THIS is what real parents look like. This is it. No need to read complex books on parenting. 

  • Kirstie

    …and DVRed every episode of Ryan Seacrest’s daily talk show. (Remember that? Of course you don’t.)

    Um, YES. I may or may not have gone to like 10+ tapings of that show.

  • booknerd

    Ahhh I loved this. I completely related to this, but for me it was my grandparents with Harry Potter. They bought all my cousins and I the first book when I was a sophmore in high school, and since no one else would read it I gave in… which lead to 10 years of fandom shared with my grandparents.  Also as someone who just finished the Hunger Games books… it’s nice to say they are the first books that have had me that addicted since Harry Potter. 

  • https://twitter.com/#!/ZachAmes macgyver51

     This is where the wisdom is found.

  • Dkakckwekc

    finally. an unpretentious article on thoughtcatalog. thanks for this. 

  • Anonymous

    Aw so nice and so true.

  • http://twitter.com/geology_rocks Haley F

    Great article! Thanks for writing this.

  • http://mason-jar-memories.blogspot.com/ Grace Elizabeth

    “One minute I was in my room casually opening the book; the next, my hair was braided and I was wearing a bow and a quiver of arrows on my back.” dude, yes.

    Also, your parents sound fantastic.

  • http://twitter.com/me_SHAY_da_kidd Misa Gosserand

    This was absolutely beautiful. I wish I had someone to like this to read with me and experience what I did as I escaped into the pages of all those wonderful books you’ve mention. Thanks for writing this article. Your parents are awesome.

  • Claire

    omg, I /totally/ remember Ryan Seacrest’s daily talk show!

  • JEReich

    I need to see a picture of the “Purim of the Rings”.  ASAP.  Can your mom adopt me already, please?

    • Anonymous

      Girl, my mom looked everywhere. I know there was one. But it seems like it’s lost forever. I AM AS HEARTBROKEN AS IS APPROPRIATE.

  • jess

    Awww this was really great

  • Jay

    Before Harry Potter, my Dad collected Beanie Babies with me (we would even track down Teeny Beanies from McDonald’s Happy Meals until we had the full set! We brought the Happy Meals to the City Mission of course :) ) and when Harry Potter started we read every book and saw every movie together. Sadly, I can’t get him into The Hunger Games. Boo! It’s okay though, my brother-in-law actually got me into The Hunger Games and now my sister is too :)

  • Andrew Rowland

    I had the same experience with Harry Potter, except it was my Dad that read them to me, but every member ended up reading it. My best experience was getting my then girlfriend (now wife) to read the books when she was 23 and catching her crying. Pretty sure that sealed the deal for me.

  • Christine

    My mother is the exact same way. We once convinced my entire girl scout troop to dress up as Harry Potter characters for a Mother/Daughter campout. My friend and I were Fred and George Weasley. My mother was Snape. We also had Ginny, Harry, Hermione, and several other characters represented.

    When I first read the Hunger Games, it was a nearly identical experience to what you described. I brought the books home to my mother and younger brother over Thanksgiving break and told them they had to read them, no arguments. Consequently, all three of us are now obsessed and have analyzed every inch of the series several times.

    So glad to hear that there are other people who have these same experiences with their parents.

  • http://twitter.com/alalalex alex

    Sent this to my mom, and we cried about it. 

  • http://bloggingforsanity.com Jaime

    Parents that try this hard deserve medals.  Platinum and diamond-laced medals.

  • kat

    Love love love.  This reminded me so much of my parents growing up and still today.

  • Belle

    I sent this to my mom, because she’s the same way with me. She’s a librarian and is always recommending books for me to read so we can talk about them together. I did get her into the Hunger Games though! My mom has been such an inspiration in this way and I hope that I can bond with my children in the same way she has with me. 

  • Bealtaine

    I loved this!It’s like my dad and I except with Terry Pratchett. My dad pretty much raised me in what he deemed suitable  pop culture .My mom could have her daughter do whatever she chose but when it came to movies and books, that was his territory.
     I remember age five swiveling round on an office chair petting my teddy white cat saying “I’ve been expecting you, Mr.Bond” and my childhood shows consisted of Xena ,Zorro and Star Trek. I remember one year expressing an interest as dressing up as an elf for Halloween. Dad spent hours making me a dress, crown and badge so that I would look like one of the Llothloren(is that how you spell it?) elves.God bless his cotton socks.To this day I am the only person I know who has to quote Conan the barbarian before  exams “Crush your enemy,drive them before you and hear the lamintation of the women”
    Anyways super article!:D

  • rose georgia

    lovely! my parents both got into the harry potter books along with me, so that whenever a new one came out we had to have a rota so that we could all get a chance to read it. my long suffering father also sat through a boxing day showing of the spice girls movie, and the first pokemon movie with me. it clearly had such an effect on him that he made a little speech about the experience on my 21st birthday.

    i want to read the hunger games so badly, but i have a dissertation to write, finals to take, and a university to graduate from before i can really allow myself to get completely distracted by something non-course related. sucks.

    incidentally, have you ever read any diana wynne jones? she was my favourite author as a child and i still reread her books now, especially when i’m ill or stressed and need comforting. she was a truly amazing writer.

  • Carol

    Loved this.  I had to read the Harry Potter books out loud to my daughter, as neither one of us could wait to read it.  Until the last book, when we went with my Mom to the midnight party to get the book asap.   We all got a copy to read.   Fast forward a couple of years and she gave me the Hunger Games books to read, which I did and loved.   Then she got my Mom to read them.   Three generations tied through the books and movies, and we’re not done yet.  
    Thanks for sharing – this is beautiful.

  • Anonymous

    This is touching. I guess if it takes reading the entire Twilight series to maintain a wonderful relationship with my daughter all through her teen years, I am up to it. :)

  • AK

    This was such a lovely article! 

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