The Force is With Us

The inevitable has happened in our house: our two oldest boys have fallen in love with Star Wars.

Obsessing over Star Wars is practically a rite of passage for every North American born after 1970. I remember running around my best friend’s backyard as a kid, chasing down the Rebel Alliance. (I always pretended to be the Emperor, because he was the boss and he could shoot lighting from his fingers. What’s cooler than that?)

The franchise’s enduring domination of childhood imaginations is impressive. Thanks to the Internet and dozens of perpetual tie-ins, kids born and/or raised in the 21st century know just as much as their parents did–and probably more–about movie characters who first appeared more than 30 years ago.

I had little to do with my boys’ introduction to the Force. Xander’s interest was first piqued through the world of Lego, one of the biggest perpetuators of the Star Wars legacy. And they absorbed lots of info from the group of 11- and 12-year-old boys in our social circle who try to outdo each other in their knowledge of obscure Star Wars trivia. (Though Star Wars doesn’t just appeal to males: the reigning expert of that group is a teenage girl who’s already won a filmmaking award.)

So before they’d seen a minute of any of the films, the boys knew most of the major plot points (including, sadly, the spoiler that Darth Vader is Anakin Skywalker, a.k.a. Luke’s father.) They could even name obscure characters like Kit Fisto, and they’d picked up some of the most quotable phrases.

Xander and I were playfighting a few weeks ago and he said to me, “Your powers are weak, old man.” Which rendered me useless with laughter.

With that background, we decided to introduce them to some of the movies for the first time. We took the original Star Wars (now called Episode IV: A New Hope) and The Empire Strikes Back with us on vacation last week. The boys were mesmerized—far more than I thought they’d be, in fact. We watched them on back-to-back nights, and even Oscar sat through all the first one and most of the second.

As is his nature, he kept up a steady stream of questions, ranging from “Where are they going now?” to the more abstract, like “Why is Princess Leia wearing her pyjamas?” and “How does Darth Vader eat?”

It’s been non-stop Star Wars ever since. When we got home from vacation, both boys spent hours building Lego spaceships and racing them around at hyperspeed. Oscar chops off my limbs with his foam “lightsabre” at least six times a day, and at bedtime I have to make up Star Wars stories. Last night I earned rave reviews for a tale called “Darth Vader goes to the Dentist.”

We’ll probably watch Return of the Jedi soon, though I’m going to hold off on the newer trilogy until they’re older. They’re definitely not ready for the dark (and rather gory) ending of Episode III, and Xander’s already told me he’s not very excited about Episode II because he’s heard through the grapevine that it’s “gross.”

“Anakin spends half the movie being in love with Padme,” he informed me. “I don’t want to watch that.”

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2 responses to “The Force is With Us

  1. Chad, my fun summer reading has been a crash course in all of Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars novels. Your kids have a lot of aging to do before they read them (say until 12?), but these are amazing. When I grow up I want to write like this man! Except I’ll probably never grow up….

    Anyways, if you read them you can tell the kids about Grand Admiral Thrawn, who is a brilliant strategist and all around cool guy–and he’s blue with glowing red eyes. (Just be sure to read them in order of publication. I have a list.)

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