A friend of mine just posted to Facebook about reading to his little girl. He read her a Curious George book, in the voice of Yoda. She asked him if she could grow up to be a Jedi.
I have little boys. If they heard my Yoda they’d be inclined to think I was being silly, but have no idea I was referencing anything real. Before you say it I should note, I am a 40 year old, suburban raised, college educated man. So, for me, Yoda is real. Anyway, back to the point at hand. Not only would they not get the voice, they’d have no idea who Yoda was once I did inform them.
The force is not a thing in our home and I feel like a failure as a father. The world of parents talking to parents is an echo chamber of shared experiences (exhaustion) and collective sensitivities (how come your house is so clean and mine is a disaster area). In the end we are all in a bubble and looking for reassurance that we’re doing this thing right. We look right past our smiling healthy kids and compare ourselves, dumbly, to others in our same predicament and look for opportunities to make ourselves feel bad about what other people are getting done that we can’t. Like having a little girl within whom the force is so strong that she is asking her dad if she can be a Jedi! God, why do parents have to brag so much about how perfect their kid is when they know the force is a sore subject for so many of us.
Let me lay out for you how hard it is for us dad’s looking around and finding only Hoth, a barren snow covered wasteland in our lives filled with giggling toddlers who are an embarrassment to us when we see your gifted child, ready to take tauntaun riding lessons while ours wouldn’t recognize a stormtrooper if it stood in front of them in a T-Shirt that said, ‘STORMTROOPER’…
- I Haven’t Shown Them Star Wars Yet: Don’t judge me. It’s been on and they’ve seen a few of the spaceships and whatnot. They just aren’t ready. Who are these kids capable of digesting this stuff at such young ages? There are moral complexities on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood that are confounding to my little guys. Besides, they are yet to learn a moral code that doesn’t first and foremost support any of their native desires being met. Charlies sense of fairness results 100% of the time in him concluding that any decision that results in him getting what he wants is the very definition moral equanimity. In the case of my friend with the daughter who the force is strong in, I guess it’s true that girls mature faster than boys. See, not my fault!
- There’s every chance that our kids will discover the Great War (Rebel Alliance V The Empire) on their own terms: Yes, this means that if the timing isn’t perfect their first exposure may be the awful, as yet unwatched other than a half of the first one, episodes 1-3 and they might love Jar Jar Binks. I can’t do everything. My wife and I are both fortunate to have jobs, jobs we need to make it work for us. So if a few things get by in the proper raising of our kids, I’m sure the village it takes will eventually get to them and convince them that not everything they thought when they were 5 turned out to be true. They eat their veggies and get to sleep each night, at some point, so don’t judge me if they don’t immediately understand the proper order of things. In this case 1. Empire. 2. New Hope 3. Return….. 38. Silver Spoons starring Ricky Schroeder…. 73. Small Wonder… 159. the works of Jonathan Franzen…. Dead Last: Anything made by George Lucas after the year Daddy could legally drink.
- The Awesome Evilness of Storm Troopers: They are uniform, faceless, willing agents of evilness. And they are awesome. It is a conundrum that teaches one of the Yin and the Yang and the reality that they both exist in all of us. It is right to be endlessly fascinated with them and hugely judgmental of them. There’s no excuse here. In this way I’m just a failure and you are better than me.
- Mimicking the Voice of Darth Vader Into a Fan Would Be Lost On Them: I’m sorry. For them to properly get the voice they’d have to see me do the voice into the fans of my youth, with metal gates over the fan propellers that I used to delightedly stick my fingers in to stop the blades. While we may be failing them in many force-related areas, that doesn’t make us negligent. In fact we make helicopter parents look like Spicoli and Mark Harmon from the beginning of Summer School got married and adopted a kid and kinda let the energy in the air raise him. No moving blades for our boys precious little fingers!
- I Was a Luke Guy: Star Wars was released prior to my fourth birthday. I had no idea what cool was. So I was allowed to prance around trying to be Luke without ever being told that Han was the ‘cool’ of the crew. At that age I thought him simply a nuisance to the cause, a man without a purpose getting forever in the way of the goodly fighters on the Rebel side. I can’t blame my parents for this. I was a toddler and it would have been hell on them to try to encourage what I assume was my natural inclination to defiance, so they let it happen. I’m afraid I’d do the same thing. So maybe waiting’s the right thing. Ever think of that, smug dad teaching kids about the force?
Bonus Holiday Sensitivity: You’re Kid Can Recognize and Identify Every Variety of Festive Bird: I’m impressed with your child’s ability to integrate this knowledge so quickly. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous. Can any of you other fellas identify with the embarrassment of having your 3 year old (God. He’s almost four!) who’s the size of a 7 year old, running through the halls of the daycare yelling “Chicken, Chicken!”. To think how certain I was that he was a gifted kid at the age of 2. You don’t have to be so superior with your Facebook posts about your kid saying ‘gobble gobble’ all November. Besides, I’m no Joan Embery, but I’m pretty sure that in the great vast world of strange diversity, theirs at least a few Turkey’s that cluck.
There are Daddy Wars, too. I refuse to allow you to make me feel bad about my dadness.
May the force be with you.