The Force is strong in my family. It’s 1977 and I’m 6 years old. My brother and I each had a bedroom on the second floor of our house and they were both connected to The Playroom: just an extra room that served as “couch cushion fort central,” a place to sneak Saturday Night Live on a black and white TV, and ground zero for the great GI Joe/ Johnny West War. Tonight, my brother is out with some friends and I’m conducting the first ever crossover of Mega Superheroes and Bionic Man. From the bottom of the stairs, Mom calls up, “David. Want to go to the movies?” My Dad (Pop) worked a swing shift so, every other week, it was just my Mom, my brother and I. Pop had bad knees and couldn’t sit in a theatre very well so when he worked 4PM to 12AM that’s when the three of us would go to movies. With my brother out, it was just Mom and me. The movie was Star Wars and, just like every other little kid, that movie changed my world. Now it’s 2015, I’m 44 years old and I have the rare privilege to take my own 6 year old son to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I try my best not to pile my own stuff onto my kid and expect him to be as excited as I am but he does take after his old man in some key areas. For instance, we both love to draw and I try to let him make his own mistakes and find his own path instead of demanding that he draw like me. Also, I think he knows more about the Avengers than I do at this point, and that’s saying something. Still Star Wars hasn’t been very big for him. I tried to get him interested in The Clone Wars but, honestly, I didn’t really care for it and neither does he. The Original Trilogy kept him fairly interested but wasn’t an earth-shattering experience. That’s ok; I didn’t want to push it. I even decided to let him make up his own mind about Jar Jar Binks. Still, Star Wars was happening for him at exactly the same age it happened for me. It’s damn hard not to cloud this experience with my expectations and I don’t think I succeeded. I am a Father taking his Son to a movie franchise that represented nearly my entire childhood. Everything changed after Star Wars. Birthdays, Christmas, my bedsheets, my jammies; it was all Star Wars. The games my friends and I would play in the back yard went from pretending we were the boyfriends of Charlie’s Angels (don’t judge me) to being Luke, Han and Chewie. This went on for years! Even now, if I’m driving my car at night in a snowstorm, I AM Han Solo punching the Millennium Falcon into hyperdrive, pretending that the snowflakes whipping by are stars in a galaxy far, far away All because I shared a movie with my Mom. My son and I arrived at the theatre early, armed with a Superman coloring book and a tiny Superman lunchbox filled with crayons that Max insisted he bring along. Already, I’m a proud Papa. We load up with M&M’s, Hi-C and popcorn and head into the theatre. How do I describe how it feels to be with this boy at this moment in time? He’s been asking me for weeks if it’s “Star Wars Movie Day” because he knows it’ll be special time with Daddy. He can’t possibly grasp the scope of the moment that envelopes me. All I can witness is the jaw-dropped look on his face as the John Williams score blasts the Star Wars Universe into being like an orchestral Big Bang and from nothing, comes everything, in an instant. In my mind, I’m 6 years old, sitting in a movie theatre with my Mom, I’m in the back seat of our station wagon opening up my first Star Wars action figures (Chewie and R2D2), my neighbor is spoiling Empire Strikes Back and tells me Darth Vader is Luke’s father, I’m sneaking into my parents closet and playing with the Millennium Falcon a week before my birthday, I’m graduating high school and selling all my Star Wars stuff in a garage sale so I can save for a car. My son doesn’t know any of this. All he knows is Daddy is crying and laughing at the same time during the opening crawl. It was a sublime moment for me. Did he like the movie? Sure he did but he’s six, so he gets bored easily. During the “talking times” his attention wandered back to the Superman coloring book but during the action, of which there is plenty, he was bouncing up and down in his seat as if on a pogo stick. When Kylo Ren showed up, he said way too loud, “Hey, it’s a new Darth Vader!” A few times, he buried his face in my arm because it got a little intense only to sit on the edge of his seat when the good guys came out on top. We shared our popcorn, laughed, cheered, and clapped at the end. Did it change his life? Man, I don’t know. Max is his own person. I can tell you; however, that Star Wars changed my life again. Max and I have been to movies together but, before last night, I’ve been preoccupied with making sure that he behaves himself or doesn’t get too loud for the people around him. You know, Father Stuff? Last night, I just got to be a Dad sharing a fun experience with his son without worrying about anything else. Max was a dream and it was an outrageous pleasure to share a Star Wars movie on the big screen. That’s the way it always was with me and my Mom. We experienced Star Wars together, Superman the Movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., we both cried when Spock died during Wrath of Kahn. Krull, for God’s sake. We went to see Krull and had a fantastic time! An easy going, two hour diversion from the boredom of everyday life, we immersed ourselves in fantasy and shared it together. Shared enjoyment; that’s what Star Wars: The Force Awakens was for me and my son. All the other movies we’ve seen before have been practice for this film. He’s old enough to know what’s expected of him in that giant, dark room. He understands that it isn’t just me and him, we’re watching with everyone else in the theatre. Forgive me for putting too fine a point on it, but he is now aware that there is an invisible force that binds us all together in front of that big, beautiful screen. Max can do the movie theatre like a champ and if he gets bored, there’s always a Superman coloring book instead of acting out. It’s a beginning. A first step into a larger work. As long as Disney keeps making Star Wars films, we’ll be in line to see them. When his little brother is old enough, all three of us will go. Like I said, the Force is strong in my family. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.