My son loves movies. I do not. Animated movies – movies made especially for kids - are the hardest for me to sit through. I find most of them dreadfully boring. There are, of course, exceptions (such as Frozen) but even the exceptions I can only watch two or three times before they too get tedious and sleep arrives before the credits roll.
By this time last year, as my son approached his fifth birthday, I had reached a point where I just could not bring myself to watch another animated show. I just couldn’t do it. One weekend, while we were visiting my parents, we stopped into the library and my son asked if we could please get a movie to watch that night. His grandparents, completely incapable of saying no, nodded their heads and my son, smile on his lips and eyes aglow with excitement, scanned the shelves in the children’s section. The thought of sitting through an animated show was too much. I couldn’t do it. I needed to find a non-animated movie that might appeal to him. A few weeks earlier I had suggested to my spouse that we should introduce our son to Star Wars. She thought he was still too young. But she wasn’t there at my parents’ house, so I plucked the original A New Hope off the shelves and handed it to my dad to check out.
“What’s that?” My son asked, pointing to the movie now in Dad’s hands.
“Ohhhhh!” He complained. “But I want to watch these.”
“We can get those too,” I compromised in an attempt to dodge a breakdown.
“Okay, but we are watching these tonight.” My son insisted.
“No, Star Wars tonight, and tomorrow while Grandpa and I are raking leaves you can watch those.”
Begrudgingly, he agreed.
Later that night, as my son cuddled on the couch with his grandparents, he was still not sold on the idea of watching a big person movie. And then it started. I read, as dramatically as I could, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” He sat up a little straighter and for the next two hours he was completely transfixed. He absolutely loved the movie and when I told him there were five more, his eyes opened wide and he announced, “I have to watch them – all of them.”
And so we did – over and over and over again – one every Saturday night for the next several months.
For Christmas, Santa brought him light sabers and for weeks all he wanted to do was fight me or anyone else who was willing to play. When we watched the movies, during the fight scenes, he would turn on his light saber and pretending to be Luke, Obi Wan or Yoda he would jump around the living room fighting the enemy - Darth Vader, Darth Maul or the Emperor.
In church, during the kiss of peace, my son started walking around, shaking hands and saying, “May the force be with you.” Many people in the congregation played along, responding in kind.
By the time spring rolled around, my son believed that he was a Jedi, but not just any Jedi. On the playground, when kids asked him what his name was he would respond, “Obi Wan Kenobi.”
In May, he desperately needed a hair cut but for days he refused to go. He never had an issue getting his haircut in the past and we couldn’t understand what was wrong.
Finally I asked him, “Why won’t you let us cut your hair?”
He responded, “I want a padawan braid.”
He responded, “I want a padawan braid.”
I chuckled, enthralled with his passionate desire to be a Jedi. “You can grow a padawan braid and still get a haircut.”
“I can?” His face was radiant with surprise.
“Yes, we’ll just ask the barber to leave a patch in the back uncut.”
Considering his obsession with Star Wars and his obstinate belief that he is a Jedi, no one was surprised when he announced that he wanted to be young padawan Obi Wan Kenobi for Halloween. My spouse made the costume from scratch and when he held his toy light saber he looked as if he was on a serious Jedi mission to defeat evil.
The night before Halloween, my son’s school had a party for the students. When we arrived, my son saw one of his friends dressed as Darth Vador. Since they couldn’t bring weapons of any kind – even toys – to school, the two boys had a mock duel using glow bracelets. They whipped the bracelets around and jabbed at each other, enjoying every moment of it.
The following afternoon, while we were out trick-or-treating, evidence of the dark side seemed to lurk down every street. Kids dressed as Storm Troopers marched passed us quite frequently. At each encounter, my son drew his light saber and pretended to fight them. Most of the time the Troopers were oblivious to his attack, but my son defeated each of them in his impassioned yet imaginary battle.
Halloween may now be over, but my young Jedi refuses to relinquish his costume. This morning he wore it to church, and in less than two months, when the new movie is released, he intends on wearing the costume to the theater. He can’t wait – the force is strong with him.