Happiness Is a Lightsaber Battle with My Daughter
When I had my daughter, I vowed to never force my childhood likes and dislikes on her. I would not make her play shoot-‘em-up games. Or sci-fi/fantasy stuff. And, though it pained me slightly, I would not make her bend to the Force of Star Wars.
Instead, I have dived into the feminine end of the childhood-game pool with a tutu on my hips and a tiara on my head. I play with flying unicorn ponies. I braid doll hair. I get my nails painted. All that said, on those rare occasions when Little E shows even the faintest interest in my vast storehouse of Star Wars paraphernalia (yes, I have action figures), I will do anything to get her to play along—for a long, long, long time.
Little E is sharp. She’s watched me, her old man, perk up as the franchise that framed my boyhood has been revived for a new generation. She knows the Star Wars logo by sight and always makes sure to point it out (loudly and in public, usually) when she sees it, which these days is a lot. But I know my limits. I took her to see the “new” Star Wars movie last year and she fell asleep less than an hour in. And that was totally okay! It didn’t stop her from making the Yoda plushy she got for Christmas a part of her solid bedtime crew.
In short, when it comes to living through my child, I take what I can get.
And what I got about a month ago was—at least to this nerd—jaw dropping.
It was a typical laid-back Saturday. My wife was doing paperwork at the kitchen table, I was folding clothes in the living room, and Little E was flitting about her playroom on some imaginary quest to make grass-mud-worm soup.
And then suddenly—with no obvious provocation—she was standing in front of me, ready to voice the most important question a 4-year-old girl can ask her father.
“Hey dada, hey dada, hey dada, hey dada, hey dada.” (It takes at least five “hey dadas” to pry me to attention these days). I looked up from my pile of expertly creased My Little Pony unders. “Hey dada, do you want to put on the Star Wars record with Darf Vader on the front and play ‘lightsabers’?”
In the dining room, my wife stopped typing. I stopped breathing. Time ceased to exist. If, one day far in the future, Little E discovers a new planet or a cure for toe fungus (or even if she becomes the president), I’m not sure I will be any more proud or awed than I was at that moment.
Obviously, when your daughter asks to put the Star Wars soundtrack on the stereo and play lightsabers with her, you drop everything (My Little Pony unders included) and play lightsabers.
I’d never forced my beliefs in the Force or Wookiees or the superiority of Y-Wing fighters on her and yet here she was, wanting to duel to the powerful punch of “The Imperial March.”
I’m not gonna lie, some space particles may have gotten lodged in my eye. It’s the only way to explain my tears of joy as we bounced around the room banging red and blue foam pool noodles together, each of us taking a turn dying and then magically coming back to life. Ya know, like good little Jedi.
It’s probably the only time in our history of fantastical playtime that she asked to stop playing first. And soon enough, life had returned to the normalcy of ponies, painted nails, and pirouettes. But every once in awhile—always out of nowhere—she’ll ask to play Star Wars.
I play it cool like Han Solo…but on the inside, I’m as giddy as a nerf herder.