I love Star Wars. Contrary to popular belief, not in an unhealthy way. At one time in the distant past, I bordered on unhealthy obsession. Those were times colored by tremendous social anxieties and mounting insecurities.
I went to the first three Star Wars Celebration festivals, which were really just big promo conventions to get everyone stoked for the prequels. Well, to get nerds stoked for the prequels.
They always let us see advanced footage of the new movies, have Q&A sessions with actors and technical people and in general have a place where we could all geek out and argue about the (lack of) finer points of the Expanded Universe or, in our single days, gawk at girls who were just as socially awkward as we were but willing to dress up like Princess Leia in that slave get–up (a joke which has outlived its novelty by a parsec and which I’ll be addressing in another blog shortly).
It was fun.
Becoming a DaddyDespite all that, and perhaps to the shock and amazement of my eventual wife, I swore I would never “push” Star Wars on my kids. I’ve seen, as we all have, parents who coax their kids into liking what they like. Either by indoctrinating them in a certain experience or show that they too enjoyed as children or sitting them down in front of a favorite movie and looking for that “special experience.”
I’m not really knocking that; I totally understand the desire to create that shared experience. There’s no way to escape that.
But I was terrified of seeing myself trying to force my kids to like Star Wars and the inevitable crestfallen moment when they pushed back and sought to distance themselves from “Dad’s Hobby.” Worse, I would show them Star Wars and they wouldn’t “get it”, leading to the early onset of a mid-life crisis.
I kept a few things out. The movies stayed on the movie shelf next to Barney and Elmo. But I never mistook one for the other, even accidentally. After all, when you alphabetize as meticulously as I, they’re on the whole other side of the entertainment stand!
My Yoda photomosaic poster hangs on the wall still, but that’s not even really a Star Wars thing, so much as a gift–from–my–mom thing. So far as the kids were concerned, it was a work of art. (And it is!) I tossed my old world–weary 1970s/80s toys into their play bins, buried beneath Cinderella and Belle because frankly, I couldn’t afford a storage unit anymore.
I would let Maddy play with my high–end lightsaber toy, but kids just dig on something that makes light and sound. There wasn’t much more to it than that, other than the occasional storybook that a friend of mine from Denver would send out, which got tossed with a shrug onto the bookshelf.
And let me be honest. When I wound up with two little girls in my life, I foresaw tea parties and princesses. Both of those came true in spades.
However, I did not expect them to take a shine to Star Wars. I don’t have any trouble admitting that Star Wars, while generally accessible across the sexes, was like football. It was fundamentally more appealing to those with that XY combination due to the characteristic violence, abstract hyperactivity and singular female lead. Not many roles with which a girl can relate (unless you count C-3PO).
I’m sure Gloria Steinem’s Sexist Bat Signal just went off somewhere.
However, somewhere along the way, both of my girls have become enormous Star Wars fans, with a special attention on the new Clone Wars cartoon. Seriously, I’m not really sure how that happened. Somewhere along the way someone saw something and kaboom, they both became fans.
And I mean big-time fans. My 2-year old insists she’s General Grievous half the time, my 4–year old wants to be Ahsoka and I’ve had to perfect my Captain Rex and Jar Jar impersonations. I’m still working on Grievous, but he’s almost there. Yoda’s old hat, of course.
The Reality of It AllThe reality is that like any other thing in a child’s life, I’m sure that this is a passing phase and I’m fine with that. The Clone Wars cartoon makes a point to teach good morals to the kids, with each episode starting with a brief epigraph like “Great leaders inspire greatness in others” or “Trust in your friends, and they’ll have reason to trust in you.”
I get to read those little epigraphs every time one appears, and get to explain it whenever a question comes up about what it means. I love that. Sometimes I even get a little emotional about it.
I’m really thankful for these moments we’re sharing, as I get to share with them something that truly connects us across the gulf of age and experience and lets all of us (as my wife has joined in on the fun now too) have some real childish fun with each other.
I do know that this time won’t last forever and my girls will eventually want to distance themselves as all kids do. But until then, Captain Rex, reporting for duty.