Tuesday, May 5, 2015

“Mom, are House-Elves real?”

I was sitting in the kitchen when I heard one of our sons ask this question:
“Mom, are house-elves real?”
For those who do not know, house-elves are fictional creatures from the Harry Potter series. They are essentially slaves or indentured servants who can only be set free if they are given clothes. If that does not happen, they could end up serving the same family for eternity. They are tasked with everything from washing dishes, to cleaning rooms and shining shoes, to preparing dinner for the entire family.

In the fourth book in the series, Hermione discovers what she sees as the unjust treatment of house-elves and starts a political campaign to give house-elves more rights and liberties. Most people don't join the campaign, because that is how it has been for so long. Most also agree that house-elves would find themselves out of place without a master to serve.
One notable exception is the character named Dobby, a house-elf Harry frees by some trickery in the second book. We see Dobby later in the series working as a free house elf at Hogwarts, the wizarding school, under the direction of the headmaster. He receives wages, can wear clothes, and he can move about as he pleases for the most part.
So, with this background we return to the question: “Mom, our house-elves real?”
I immediately stepped into the room and answered his question.
“If you are asking if there are little creatures called 'house-elves,' then no, they are not real. However, there is someone who makes clothes magically appear in your dresser, and food magically appear on the table. And, like house-elves, they do not get thanked nearly enough for what they do. That person is your mother.”
My son looked at me with a strange expression on his face, and my wife gave a somber nod. So I went on to explain to him that we need to be much more thankful for Mom, and all that she does for us.
I work a 9 to 5 job, and am not able to go grocery shopping the majority of the time. So for all intents and purposes, my food magically appears in the refrigerator or on the table. I try to pitch in as much as I can on the weekends with the house work and the laundry, but I too am guilty of not giving enough thanks to my wife for all she does.
So this mother's day, I would encourage you to set your house-elf free. Buy her some clothes, (Dobby preferred socks, your house-elf may prefer shoes) and set her free! I might even go so far as to wish her a “Happy House-Elf Day,” but most importantly I'm going to help out with the housework a lot more, and not just for the weekend.