December 20, 2010

The Wisdom of Star Wars On Child Rearing

I think that the screams woke me up. They were loud and full of raw emotion that fluttered between fear, terror and anger. It took a moment for me to realize where I was and what had happened. Blame it upon the joys of being roused from a deep slumber.

Not quite awake I slid out of my bed and stood silently in the dark...listening, but not quite sure for what. I slowly walked out of the bedroom and wandered down the hall to check on the children. My heart was pounding and I could feel the vein on my forehead protruding. Those who know me well can tell you that the appearance of the vein is never good. It is a sign that I am thirsty for blood. My fingers twitch and I continue on my search and destroy mission.

Slowly it dawned upon me that the screams that woke me up came from me. I was screaming. I was scared and the survival mechanism inside me flipped on. Fear paralyzes, but anger energizes.  I took a deep breath and walked into the playroom where I came face to face with Lego Yoda. Yep, the Jedi master himself, or at least the brick version.

It sounds silly, but seeing Yoda relaxed me. I could almost hear him speak, "“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”  Funny to think that I actually learned/gained something from a muppet, but I did.

And thus the idea for a post about the wisdom of Star Wars on parenting or child rearing came into being. I haven't googled it so it may be that someone else has already taken this idea, but don't care because it makes sense. I don't care because I relate to what Yoda said. It reminds me of my grandfather telling a ten year-old boy that if I act out of anger I will get myself into trouble. Reminds me of another conversation years later where he looked at my black eye and asked if it was worth it.

These are lessons that are easily passed along not just because I can share my experiences with my children but because they really do make sense. It doesn't hurt that my son loves Star Wars or that his little sister is so determined to be like him she will follow whatever he does.

My little green friend's admonition towards Luke is something that I speak of/about with the kids. When they get frustrated because something isn't going their way I play a little clip for them.

"Do or do not... there is no try."

It makes so much sense to me. It is a reminder that if you are going to do something there is no reason to go about it in a half-assed manner. It is easy to be lazy. It is easy to just go through the motions and easy isn't always the best path to take.

Which if you know me is kind of funny because I have a habit of picking the road less traveled. I don't always walk upon the path, sometimes I blaze a trail and while it is noble to do so sometimes it is dumb. Part of my job as a father is to help them avoid making the mistakes that I have made. I suppose the good news is that I have a never ending list of examples, but I digress.

Sometimes in the middle of these discussions my son will remind me that the Force isn't real. I guess that he inherited my smartass gene so I shouldn't complain. But the comment is ok because I can still take Yoda's words and make them work for me.

"Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship."

Those few lines tie into a bunch of cliches. They are a reminder not to judge a book by its cover. They are a reminder not to forget what Mark Twain said, “It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.”

FWIW, I should add that virtually every time my son and I have this discussion I find myself thinking of Admiral Ackbar screaming, "It is a trap!" Why? Because the too smart for his own good son tries to spin it into a discussion about why he needs another Lego set. "It is educational dad. I learn how to build things, use my imagination and wisdom" or so he claims.

Now if I could only figure out how to use the Jedi Mind trick more efficiently I might have fewer of these conversations. Hmmm... excuse me while I go ponder upon this.

No comments: