My son is in Kindergarten. He got to go to his first ‘new-school-friend-birthday party’ today. I got to go as well. Yay for me. There was coffee, pizza and wasps. I enjoyed two thirds of that. This isn’t about me though. Or maybe it is. The party was pretty awesome all things considered, because it was a ‘Star Wars’ themed gathering. My son is pretty into Star Wars (and everything else), and I was too at his age, and I’m old, so I think it’s remarkable that Star Wars is still as relevant today as it was then. Who could have guessed? Neither Farrah Fawcett nor Lee Majors would have guessed that shit.
My son probably became obsessed with Star Wars at the age of 2. He loved Darth Vader. He used to tell me he was my father, like all the time, and he hadn’t even seen the movie, like I have no idea how he knew that line. He was pretty into Stormtroopers as well, but seemed to have no love for Luke Skywalker, and when I was 4, I was all about Luke Skywalker. I was very ‘good over evil’, but it was the 80’s and this is a different time. That said I was a little concerned how drawn to the dark side of the force my son was at such a young age. He seemed a bit like the type that would love to crush the rebellion in one fell swoop (see, I thought it was foul, but I didn’t know whether to spell it foul or fowl, so I googled it, and they were like ‘ACTUALLY…… it was originally FELL’, but that doesn’t sound as good because people I’m sure have been using ‘foul’ for ages now, perhaps in error, and I’m so committed to the line that I’ll just leave it as is, but with an explanation……or I can edit it later, and you’ll never know we had this conversation.) So we would have these light saber duels. He always wanted to do it. They kept getting bigger, and sometimes they weren’t even light sabers, but swords (toy swords of course), or baseball bats, or anything he could pick up and hand me, and he’d say “Let’s fight Daddy”. So we would duel, and he would put on his Darth Vader mask, and hit each other’s swords while he tried to intimidate me by saying all sorts of menacing things in his freaky little bad guy voice. If I had to do it over again I probably should have laid down and played dead at some point so he would think he won, but screw that, man. I’m not letting him win. He thinks he’s just going to defeat me in a battle and then take over the household, no way. So we’ve had a lot of sword fights in the past couple of years. His hand skills are well-developed for a toddler I think.
So today…… a couple of ‘characters’ showed up at this birthday party. The first was a Jedi Master. He was going to train these kids to become Jedi, and had them running and jumping and doing obstacle courses. Parents stood around making awkward conversations with other parents they had just met, but we all nodding in approval like ‘yeah these suckers are gonna sleep tonight!!!’ Then there was light saber training, where each kid would pick up a fake light saber and hit this guy’s light saber a few times. I knew my son would get a kick out of that. Then a guy dressed as Darth Vader came in, and the kids were super excited, and it was a really great kids party I thought. Then….. before the food, but just after Darth Vader had come in, the Jedi Master decides the kids should pit off against one another in light saber battles, and the winner was going to get a prize. Ughhhhh. Before I could get to my son to read him the riot act, he was paired off (with the birthday boy no less) for the first fight. It all happened so fast, like one of those early Mike Tyson fights. Like in the original Star Wars movie, my son was Darth Vader and this kid was the old version of Obi-Wan Kenobi. My son went in on this kid, and I just remember screaming “Not his head, not his head”, and then the kid started crying (maybe more from my screaming than any actual pain… they were fake light sabers), and then my son started crying because his friend was crying….. it was emotional. I was kind of embarrassed, but the birthday boy wasn’t hurt, and moved on pretty quickly, somehow won the prize (which was either always intended for the birthday boy, or given to him out of sympathy.)
It all got smoothed over quickly and we all enjoyed the rest of the party. Soon it was like it never happened, but in the car I could tell my son felt bad about it, and I thought it was a good teaching moment, but then I had to quickly figure out what I wanted the lesson to be. Be gentle?? I guess, but he was ASKED to engage in a light saber battle, and the winner was offered a prize. He tried his hardest to do what he was told to do, and I can’t really fault him for that. I did try to remind him that I’m 5 times his size, so when he hits me with a light saber, it doesn’t do as much damage as when he hits some 40 pound kid, so am I telling him to play down to his competition? Like not try his hardest when competing against someone who isn’t as good (by good I mean specifically at light saber fighting) as him? If he plays sports and he doesn’t try his best because he thinks the other team isn’t good, that will drive me nuts, so I don’t think that’s the lesson. For the purpose of this blog, I’ll say the lesson is ‘Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should’, but I don’t know if a 4-year old can grasp that or not, so I just said ‘keep the light saber away from his head next time.’