One of my 8-year-old’s favorite pasttimes is “versus”: deciding who would win in a battle between various fictional characters. You may remember the epic Roku vs. Darth Vader battle…
Well, lately I’ve been reading the The Hobbit to the kids. They have been enjoying it, but also getting impatient. They want to see Smaug. All the other things – trolls, goblins, spiders, elves, shapeshifters – have been great, but they’re ready for the main event. They’re ready for the dragon.
“Daddy,” the big guy challenged me a week ago, “who would win: Darth Vader or Smaug?”
“Smaug,” I said.
“No way,” he shouted. “Darth Vader has the force!”
“Smaug,” I repeated.
“Okay, okay. Darth Vader with the Death Star versus Smaug.”
“Smaug,” I said.
Before I go any farther, you should know that I first heard about Smaug when I was a little guy, half-asleep on the couch, listening to my mother read The Hobbit to me. Since then, nothing has come close to Smaug. He isn’t one of those wimpy flying lizards from modern fiction or computer games, and he’s certainly not a mamby pamby Pern dragon.
For the next several days, I listened to the boys come up with creatures that could beat Smaug.
The conversations all went something like this:
Finally, we got to the point in the book where Smaug flies out of his den and circles the mountain looking for the dwarves. It’s a crazy dramatic scene, with the heroes huddling in terror while Smaug blasts fire all around, unleashing roars that shake them to their bones.
I snuck a glance at the kids. Both were on the edge of the couch, their eyes wide, their mouths hanging open.
I paused in my reading to catch their eyes. “That’s Smaug,” I said. “Now do you see?”
“Are you okay? Should I stop?”
“No,” they both shouted. “It’s okay. You can keep going.”
So I did.