When I dreamed of sharing my love of the Star Wars universe with my children, I had thought –much like Obi-Wan Kenobi had thought– that the boy was my only hope.
But –much like Yoda said– no. There is another.
I was a huge Star Wars fan as a kid. I loved the films (the original films, that is – you know the ones) and they were my whole world for a time when I was growing up. I wasn’t a rabid fanboy, but I did enjoy that imaginary universe for quite a long time (at least until those stupid Ewoks showed up and ruined it all).
When my kids were younger, I couldn’t wait to introduce them to that universe. I tried several times to get them to watch it with me, and much to my amazement and horror, they would not. My son had zero interest in them, even though he enjoyed Ray Bradbury and Twilight Zone and other sci-fi-related stories. My daughter had no interest in it either, though somehow I accepted it more from her, since she seemed more interested in animals and sports and stuff. I kept thinking, “It’s a phase; they’ll grow to appreciate it”, but years went by, and still, they’d never spent more than five minutes with any of the films.
The other day, we found the original “Star Wars” playing on cable, and I started watching it, at which point they cried out in protest. I decided it was time to make a stand. It was time they at least saw the films that were so important to me as a kid. So I made them a deal: If they would watch the entire movie with me, I would give them each two dollars. (Parents reading this: save me your scorn for bribing my kids; like you’ve never made questionable parenting choices!) I was sure that all it would take was 20 or 30 minutes of watching it before they discovered the awesomeness of the story, and they’d be similarly enamored with it, and quite possibly forget that money was ever discussed. Perhaps they’d pay ME for showing them the pure joy that had been missing in their lives.
They agreed to the deal, and we started watching the film. Very soon, however, I discovered Hayden reading a magazine, and Makena focusing on a stuffed animal instead of the movie. I realized that getting them to actually pay attention to the film was going to require a different motivation. So I amended the deal. (Parents reading this: quit judging me.)
“Okay, in order to qualify for the $2.00 payment, you will have to pass the quiz that I will administer at the end of the film,” I said. “That means you have to pay attention.”
Hayden groaned, but Makena, to my utter delight, set aside the stuffed animal and started earnestly watching. Moments later, she ran from the room. I was about to ask her where she was going when she returned with a pen and paper. I thought she was going to be distracting herself with drawing pictures or something, but when I glanced over her shoulder, I saw what she was doing.
She was taking notes.
These are the items on Makena’s “Star Wars Answer Sheet”:
*How much % Jabba gave that guy: 15%
*What that guy ows money 2: Jabba the hut
*What the storm troopers murderd: The Jah-wahs
*What that guy gave to Luke: ship
*Who put the info in R-2: Princess Leah
*What Leah put in R-2: The information of the death ball
This was as far as her notes got, because eventually she was so engrossed in the story, she stopped taking notes. Hayden’s interest never sparked, though he did watch the film to the end. But Makena was enthralled, and watched with curiosity and excitement and great interest. When the first movie was over, we got right into “The Empire Strikes Back”. Hayden did mention that was better than the first, which was something.
The following night was a Daddy-Daughter night, and at her request, Mak and I watched “Return of the Jedi” together. And somehow, through her eyes, the Ewoks weren’t so bad.