A Father-Son Story

Written by todd on November 11th, 2013

My son’s introduction to Star Wars now has new twists I didn’t imagine the last time I shared my ineptitude.

I continue to be surprised by the things that stick in our little guy’s mind. Luckily, there are few things that are scaring him, but plenty to obsess over. At the moment, Darth Vader (Dartha Veda to those of you following along) continues to be the coolest thing in the Universe thanks to the boy’s incredibly cool Halloween costume and a successful trick-or-treat adventure as Mini-Vader.

Two things undermine the menace of Darth Vader when enacted by a child. First off is the terrible visibility inside a Vader helmet, which lead to our son feeling his way up and down stairs like a blind person. I could have painted his lightsaber white with a red tip and it would have come in handy. It’s hard to fear someone who can’t quite see the candy bowl or the edge of the porch steps. I was Vader’s hand-holding lackey, like Chewbacca the giant seeing-eye dog.

More entertaining were his natural theatrics while in costume. My wife clearly saw an acting opportunity and downloaded the “Imperial March” theme to her phone during the first candy-raid house. We played it as a joke between houses but the boy embraced this idea as acting gold.

The rest of the night he insisted we play the theme between houses, and he even worked to refine a menacing Vader-walk to put him better into character. My actress wife was very proud.

Overall it’s clear that the bad-guys are more interesting than the good guys during this phase of his Star Wars education. Boba-fett is another favorite as well as the cadre of bounty hunters seen briefly in one scene of Empire Strikes back. We’ve begun having recurring conversations about a bounty hunter’s place in the universe.

“Dada, is Boba-Fett Bad?”

“Yes.”

“Why is he bad?”

“Well, he’s a bounty hunter and he chases people.”

“I bet he’s good some times. If he wanted to.”

“Yes, buddy, I guess he could be.”

I’ve lost track of how many times we’ve had a variation of this discussion. In fact, his interest in Boba-fett’s good/bad ratio has brought him to a new conclusion.

“Dada… do you know why Boba-fett is bad?”

“Well it’s cause…”

“No, no, no, no,” he interrupts. “Dada, it’s cause Dartha Veda made him bad.”

“Oh really?”

“Yes. Dartha Veda wanted someone to be bad with him. So he made Boba Fett be bad.”

I’m not sure that anyone at LucasFilm ever thought through this origin story with as much focus on peer pressure. Apparently Darth Vader is more lonely and persuasive than I realized.

But my new favorite moment comes from the big surprise of the trilogy. Yes, we’ve been watching through the original three (movies 4-6) and finally got through his obsession with Walkers and the Vader theme to watch the end of Empire Strikes Back. There we were, on the couch as Luke cradles his severed hand and Vader tells him the shocking news of his origin.

I explain it to the boy, we watch it a couple times, and he acted completely unfazed by this information. In fact, I quickly banished any expectations as it appeared he didn’t even understand or process what he’d heard and I’d explained. So be it, another Star Wars introduction ruined and I’ll just chapter hop to more creatures and space ships. Oh, look son… a gold bikini.

But then my wife got home and suddenly the boy wanted to share what he’d learned.

“Mama, do you know what Dartha Veda said!?”

I, for one, was very excited to hear this. My wife and I smiled and braced ourselves.

“What did he say, buddy?”

And then in his best deep Darth-Vader voice, which incidentally is always accompanied with a stern point, he says:

“Luke. I will be your Father.”

Allow me to give you a moment. At the time I nearly bit my tongue in half to keep from laughing.

I never imagined how much a couple little words would change that whole scenario.

Suddenly, I have visions of Darth Vader wearing a baseball glove and standing in a wheat field tossing a baseball to his now one-handed son.

It’s a heartwarming story really, about a misunderstood boy from Tatooine who never knew his own father. And along comes the menace of the Galaxy, encased in a suit as hard as his heart. But when this young man curls his lip down in a moment of anguish, Vader finds his heart melting and decides to adopt young Luke and give them both a better life.

“Luke. I will be your Father.”

The music swells. They share a milkshake with two straws. And quite ironically it sounds like a Disney after-school special: “Sith-Dad”.

I do believe I’ve ruined Star Wars. Well… maybe not as bad as Episode 1.

Anyway. Stay tuned for more rewriting of the Star Wars trilogy. It seems clear that this is not about the stories I introduce to my son, but what he thinks those stories are about.

The Force is strong in this one.

 

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