If you’re a long-time reader, you probably already know that my folks are British and came to America many years ago just in time to have little old me. And, you may also know that I’m a huge Harry Potter nut.
But what you certainly don’t know – because I didn’t even learn it myself until just this week – is that both my parents went to English boarding schools that bear a surprising resemblance to a certain school for wizards that we all know and love.
In short, this week I learned that my parents went to Hogwarts!
You can imagine my shock, surprise and delight at learning this. To back up a bit, my parents are currently visiting from Los Angeles, where they are enjoying their retirement and not spending much time at their own home as they travel around the world like gypsies. Honestly, we’re honored that they visit us at all when they have the choice of so many exotic and worldly locations. But happily, Columbus remains a frequent stop on their never-ending world tour, and for that we are grateful.
We were relaxing at home just hanging out with our dogs – which seems to be our number one pastime when the grandparents are here, because the grands love our dogs and the adoration is returned tenfold by Autumn and Dani. I was asking Gran and Poppa (Z’s names for them – to me, they are Mommers and Dad) about their childhoods and getting interesting details out of them that either I hadn’t heard before, or already knew and thought Z and Napa might enjoy hearing.
I started out by asking my mom about what it was like being sent away to boarding school at such a young age. This is a fact I’ve always known about my mother, and it never fails to stop me in my tracks. She was sent away to boarding school about two hours from her home when she was just 8 years old. She celebrated her 9th birthday far from her family with a group of students and teachers she’d only just met – and she spent a total of ten years there before graduating and going on to university.
As a mom, it’s impossible for me to fathom sending away my beloved child – but she tells me it was best for her and ended up being a wonderful experience, although she certainly didn’t think so at the time.
The girls and I began asking my Mommers a number of questions about her boarding school: were the teachers nice or mean? Was she terribly homesick and sad, or did she grow to like it? What were the other students like? Was it fun or hard? Were they separated into houses? Was there a cute little town nearby they could walk to and buy candy (or, as the English call it, sweeties). As she answered us and shared more stories about her boarding school, the St. Anne’s Windermere School in England’s Lake District, a very clear picture began forming in my head. A familiar picture.
Suddenly, not one to be left out, my Dad piped up: hey, I went to a boarding school in England, too, you know! But he didn’t live there – he was a commuter student, or as he put it, a “day boy.” My Dad went to Birkenhead school in Wirral, England. It wasn’t nestled in gorgeous, rolling green countryside the way my Mommers’ school was, but the uniforms were nonetheless extremely Hogwarts-esque and the chapel looks identical to the Great Hall at Hogwarts. And he too told tales of both nice headmasters and headmistresses and wicked ones – though perhaps none as bad as Umbridge.
Bottom line – the top photo above is my Mom’s school and looks like the outside of Hogwarts. And the bottom photo above is my Dad’s school and looks like the inside of Hogwarts. So basically, my parents have been keeping from me all this time the insanely fun story of how both of them went to Hogwarts all through their childhoods and schooling years – and yet here I am a hopeless muggle growing up in America! What gives?!
Have you ever learned anything amazing and fascinating about your own parents relatively late in life – and was it as cool as them going to Hogwarts? I’m dying to hear in the comments below or over on Facebook!