“A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away….“
These now-immortal words really need no introduction.
Certainly for my first-born J, Star Wars: A New Hope, began for him an adventure and a love that’s stayed for more than half his lifetime now (he turned 12 last month).
Yes, he definitely has me to thank for that. After all, what kind of a father would I be if I didn’t introduce my son to Star Wars, right?!
However, over the years, it became clear he’d taken his father’s liking for the Lucas franchise into what looks now to be a life-long love and passion! Far exceeding any kind of interest I could have mustered, especially since I’m more into fantasies (like Lord of the Rings) than science-fiction stories like Star Wars and Star Trek.
And when you throw into the mix the ever-present toy world of Lego, found in nearly every living boy’s box of knick-knacks, and everywhere I look in my tiny apartment….
Yet now as he stands at the cusp of teenhood, I can’t help but wonder:
Will “the Force” still be with him, or will he join the “dark side” of puberty?!
And then there was light (saber)!
For his 12th birthday, my wife and I splurged on an actual lightsaber for him. By that I mean not the little toddler-types you see in Toys “R” Us. I’m talking of the kind that comes with a three-month warranty!
In short (or should I say long), as close to the real deal as we could afford!
Needless to say our friend was over the moon.
We figured after all that 12 is a significant milestone. Especially here in our country, where students take their first national exams and transition out of primary to secondary education between the ages of 12 and 13. Thereafter they are deemed to have left their childhood firmly behind them, and enter into that “in-between” land known as…
Enter the Dragon!…oops, I mean Puberty
Wait a minute! Wasn’t I talking about Star Wars? Why the sudden swing over to the dragon imagery?
Well, I get that way sometimes. Mix my metaphors. Take a detour. Be random now and then, Shake things up a bit. Move from Western sci-fi to mystic Eastern lore.
Especially when I dive into a topic that sends my head into a tailspin!
Random detour done.
Now, back to my son.
Depending on what and where you’re getting parenting info from, descriptions and advice on how to help your kids (and yourself!) navigate the transition from childhood to puberty, would likely range from physiological to psychological!
Whichever way you look at it, this next stage of my son’s journey into adulthood will prove a particular challenge for yours truly since the first 20-21 years of my life pretty much sucked! I never had a great childhood, and my teen years were some of my worst. So what experience really have I to offer him?
What I really wish is for him to stay a kid. Yes, that’s right! I want him (and me!) to cling onto his childhood for as long as possible, even though I know that’s ridiculous.
But I think inside every parent, there’s just such a wish. We all know what awaits our kids as their bodies change and their outlook gets an overhaul thanks to the myriad of subtle and not-so-subtle influences all around them. The real world outside of his home and school can be a cruel and nasty one. However much I wish I could shield him and his brother, I know this tide is inevitable.
And it’s coming. This “dark” side of puberty.
Son, don’t go over to the Dark Side!
Yes I know I know. There are lots of great and wonderful things in the world to look forward to and talk about as well, but you should have figured out by now that this isn’t that kind of post.
Instead, this is a post by a father who’s watching his son grow up right now, and feeling like someone’s slowly but surely pulling the rug from under his feet!
When I contrast what childhood is versus what lies ahead, I just can’t help but think how disparate one is from the other. Like yin from yang; north from south, up from down….you get the picture right?
Childhood is all about wide-eyed wonder, innocence, no doubts about right and wrong.
And Lego and Lightsabers.
It’s about fantasy, adventure, and excitement; stuff that fires up any kid’s imagination and keeps them in that happy child-like wonderment.
To rob them of that feels like a crime of the worst kind!
Which if you think about it, is what the adult world does: it robs our children of their childhood and plunges them into an abyss of cynicism, taxes, politics, work. The list is endless. All that will await him. And no force in all the universe can ring-fence him from these realities.
None save for me, his dad.
No, I’m no superhero or Jedi knight. I can’t wield a lightsaber to push back the forces of darkness.
But what I can do daily as we trudge along his unavoidable path to adulthood, is to remind my son of his lego and lightsaber days. Days that I can be around to remind him that he’s now and always my son; to allow him to be a child again whenever he wants.
If that means bringing him and his friends to attend Star Wars commemorative events with his stormtrooper lego pieces in his pocket and his lightsaber sling on his back for the whole world to see, then so be it! And not forgetting the mandatory rerun of one of the old Star War movies in the comfort of our living room this evening.
As I wrote two years ago, and again today: May the force be with you J…for as long as we both shall live!