Saturday, March 16, 2013

Passing on a family tradition...Star Wars

Every proud father looks forward with excitement to certain milestones in his son's growth and development: first steps, first words, the first time you throw a football together, the first day of school, and the first time you watch Star Wars together.

I recently finished watching the original Star Wars trilogy (episodes 4-6) with my son. I grew up with Star Wars. I remember watching A New Hope in the small town movie theatre my grandparents owned eight times. When my wife asks, "How many versions of Star Wars do we really need to own?" the answer is obviously, "All of them!"

Needless to say, I was excited to share this special life experience with my son.

But there are some questions a parent must answer before sharing the Star Wars experience. Sure, you need to decide if he is old enough—even though it's relatively benign by today's standards, there are some scenes that can cause nightmares for small kids. My son is six, and I admit it, that's too long to wait. The most fundamental question though, is what episode do you start with?

The obvious answer is Episode IV: A New Hope. If you disagree stop reading, go watch all six episodes in the order they were released, and return realizing the error in your ways, vowing never to repeat said error again.

Here's a valuable public service announcement that covers this and other important questions.

My three-year-old daughter watched with us, not because she was really interested in it, more because the TV was on and, well, you can't not watch the magic box when it is making pretty pictures and cool sounds.

She's always been inquisitive, asking many—too many—questions about everything imaginable. I'm confident the incessant questions and thirst for knowledge will serve her well when she breaks a big story as a journalist or a big case as lawyer, or cures some yet-unknown disease as a scientist, but I can't count the times I said, "Let's use our eyes and ears more than our mouth. Daddy is trying to watch this movie."

Here's but a very small sample of the questions:

  • Is that Darf Vader?
  • Who are those white guys? (referring to Storm Trooperrs)
  • Why are those guys' eyes red? (referring to Jawas)
  • Why are they shooting at each other?
  • Didn't those white guys died last time?
  • What colour is Darf Vader's life saver?
  • Are those good guys or bad guys?
My son is more the strong silent type, so it was a little hard to gauge what he thought and if he understood some things. After watching The Empire Strikes Back, he was still pretty stoic. I remember the moment I first learned that Darth Vader was Luke's father—mind blowing! How could it be? I had to ask if he understood what just transpired.

"Did you get what happened at the end when Luke got his hand cut off? Did you hear what Darth Vader said?"

Without missing a beat or changing expression at all, he said, "Yeah, he's Luke's dad."

"What do you think of that?"


He was still excited to watch Return of the Jedi—phew, I didn't lose him. This time my oldest daughter joined in. Despite claiming she didn't care about Star Wars, the lure of the magic box was too strong. She'll never admit liking it—other than "those funny grizzly bear guys" (Ewoks), but she's been drawn in by the power of the force. And now the questions start coming from her, "Why didn't you start with Episode I?" This is when I realized the good ol' parenting stand-by we all said we would never use is a perfectly legitimate response. "Because."

Now I need to introduce the kids to Episode I and (shudder) Jar Jar Binks. I think it's one of those things you just have to tackle head-on. Like ripping off a bandage, do it quick and it won't hurt so much.

Soon, I hope to enjoy another first with my son, standing in line for tickets to the next Star Wars movie.

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