Star Wars: The Next Generation
Teasing Your Kids
My father loved movies and science fiction. He was a Star Trek fan in the sixties, though he sometimes missed seeing it on television because his in-laws tended to visit on nights when the program aired. (This may have been a contributing factor to our family being one of the first I knew to have a VCR in our home; he didn’t want interruptions to cause him to miss seeing his favorite shows.) Having seen Star Wars in 1977 while he was out-of-town on a business trip, he came back home and immediately took my older brother to go see this “strange movie in space that had a gorilla for a copilot.” Later, he would take his whole family to see the iconic space opera at the drive-in (formerly recounted in this post).
Inevitably, parents pass on to their children their interests, knowledge, principles, and perspectives, whether intentional or unintentional. Children whose parents watch football on Saturdays and Sundays tend to develop an interest in football. Musically inclined parents tend to have children who at least have an appreciation for music. Parents can intentionally instill their values in their children through activities, chores, and discussions centered on their own ethics and morals. Often, parents try to expose their children to a variety of interests in a conscious effort to allow them to find and develop their own tastes.
As a lifelong Star Wars fan, I faced a parenting dilemma. How could I share my love of the franchise without forcing them to embrace the saga as I had? Knowing that every person is unique, I accepted that my children would probably not be as enamored with Star Wars as I am, so I opted for letting the indoctrination introduction of the saga flow naturally.
I teased them with Star Wars.
Each child’s first contact with Star Wars came audibly as both were present for the opening of new Star Wars movies a couple weeks before they were born. Although my collection of Kenner toys and other items were stowed away during their earliest years (we moved a lot in those days and there was no room for displaying articles of my fandom), they were present as I watched the movies on VHS and DVD and listened to the soundtracks in the car. For a while, a Jar Jar poster adorned the kids’ play area in the basement alongside Monsters, Inc., Winnie-the-Pooh, and other childrens’ favorites, but an emphasis on Star Wars alone was never present. In fact, I refrained from taking them to Revenge of the Sith, or even showing it to them in its entirety once it was released on video, because they were too young — even though they both constantly begged to see the “last” Star Wars movie. Early on, my older child had a few Playskool Star Wars toys from The Phantom Menace, and my younger one had Galactic Heroes, but both had an assortment of other toys as well. Star Wars was just a part of their childhood.
The big tease came when a friend of the family bought my son his first Star Wars action figure. On his third birthday, he received a Clone Commander from Revenge of the Sith. My usually patient wife mentioned that it might be time to show the kids my entire collection. With cautious restraint, I gradually revealed bits of my collection over time. A TIE Fighter here, an X-Wing there, a few figures to enable them to play Star Wars with their own newer, fully-articulated versions — but I didn’t want to overwhelm them with the massive stash of Kenner toys I had accumulated over nearly a decade through gifts and purchases during my own childhood. Granted, it was more for the sake of keeping them from being spoiled by an immediate collection of toys, but it ultimately provided them with a sense of knowing there was more to come. They knew there was more — somewhere — and it instilled the same sense of anticipation that most of us “old school” fans were accustomed to experiencing.
They started paying attention to Star Wars wherever they saw it. When they were at a friend’s house and saw an old AT-AT or Snowspeeder from the ‘80s, they would come home and tell me all about it, wondering if there might be one somewhere in a box they hadn’t seen, yet. When Star Wars was referenced in a movie or television show, they couldn’t wait to let me know what they had seen. Even when we watched movies together, especially in theaters, and a familiar scream could be heard in the sound mix, they would turn toward me a shout, “Wilhelm!”, cognizant of the relationship that clip has in the Star Wars saga.
Then, when Star Wars: The Clone Wars was nearing its release, we took the kids to Toys ‘R’ Us in Kennesaw, Georgia for their first “Midnight Madness” sale. Arriving a couple hours before the store opened at midnight, they saw other fans waiting in line at the door and wondered about the many adults there to buy toys without children. They interacted with Stormtroopers and Clones from the 501st as they waited for the doors to open. That weekend, they opened the new toys and played with them for hours, predicting what adventures would be coming when the new movie came out in a matter of days.
By the time the movie came out, they had invited their friends to come with them to see the new Star Wars with Anakin and Obi-Wan, wearing their Star Wars: The Clone Wars T-shirts and settled into their seats in silence as they anxiously awaited the movie to start on opening day. A couple hours later, they were hooked.
Since then, we have gone to conventions, Celebrations, and have filled our house, their rooms, closets, and shelves with Star Wars memorabilia and toys. And like their father, they yearn for more from that galaxy far, far away.
Finally, last Friday, they were teased again, as we took their cousins, aunts, and one of their uncles to see Big Hero 6 the teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Since then, they have repeatedly said that it didn’t show enough, that they can’t wait for the next trailer, and have imagined what story lies behind the characters and scenes they witnessed at 10:15 EST on the big screen in Atlanta — just like the rest of us Star Wars fans.
It goes to show that sometimes, teasing can be good for kids.
— shazbazzarPowered by Sidelines