Some of the earliest memories I have from childhood is from the original Star Wars trilogy. As the son of hard working immigrants, my childhood was different from a lot of kids’. We didn’t go out to movies or restaurants. Since my folks worked 13 hour days, seven days a week, we were often left to our own devices. My mom used to joke that at bedtime they would sleep in our doorway while we tired ourselves out and collapsed (I think it was a joke at least). So entertainment was highly valued.
Luckily for 6 year-old me, I had cousins who had two wondrous things called HBO and a VCR. Using VHS tapes, they copied the original A New Hope.
My Star Wars Experience
From the opening scenes of Tatooine with C-3PO walking past the immense skeleton and R2-D2 being stalked by Jawas to the chaos of Mos Eisley cantina to the climatic destruction of the Death Star, I was hooked. That VHS tape was put on repeat for months.
When a tape of The Empire Strikes Back appeared the process was repeated. I remember the awe of the AT-ATs at Hoth, the horror at what was under the fake Vader mask, and the jaw-dropping revelation at the end of the awesome lightsaber battle. Least was the ickiness of the romance between rogue and princess (hey, I was just a little kid).
It was a few years after that until I got to see Return of the Jedi on tape due to the wait of it being released and then shown on HBO. But by then I was beginning to lose the fervor I once had. Perhaps it was because of the Ewoks, a little too cutesy for a kid who was starting to abandon such things. In all though, Kid Me was very happy with the way the original trilogy turned out.
Now I’m a Dad, and through the benefit of hindsight I can see how Star Wars has helped shape the person I am today. You could even say it taught me quite a bit about parenting along the way.
What Star Wars Taught Me About Parenting
Kids Learn From Amazing Stories
Star Wars was my first epic story, my first exposure to fully realized worlds beyond what I could see in my everyday life. We know and take for granted now the idea of a hero’s journey, but for me and a whole generation this was our introduction to the concept. Star Wars prepared me for similar, more complex stories later on in life and can help me prepare my sons.
The Power of Imagination Affects More Than Just Play
Of course, along with the movies came the onslaught of toys of literally EVERY SINGLE character, location, and vehicle. These toys allowed a kid to take what existed in the world of Star Wars and create their own stories. A chance to dig deeper – the Star Wars extended universe crosses into several different mediums. We devoured books, comics, video games, and role playing adventures that served as gateways to new ways of learning. If you are so inclined and willing to do the research, you can learn everything you could possibly want to know about Ewoks, blasters, and light saber construction.
How to Make Friends
Who hasn’t bonded with new friends over a lightsaber fight? Getting together with friends to debate important topics such as which starfighter is the best (definitely not the A-Wing) is a great way to foster and maintain friendships.
An Intro to Spirituality
Many people (including myself, who came from a non-religious household) were introduced to spiritual concepts about good, evil, and the balance between the two through Yoda’s teachings of the Force. Indeed, some folks list their religion as “Jedi”.
Balancing the Good & Dark Sides of the Force
It may be tough to admit, but a lot of Star Wars material is not good. I fell asleep through a screening of the special edition and its needless revisions (no way did Han shoot first), and the less said about the prequels the better. But we must also learn to take the good with the bad. That’s an important lesson for life, to get to the good you may have to wait out the bad.
A New Hope
I’ll admit it, my childhood was pretty isolated. Because of our circumstances, at times it seemed like I was stuck on Tatooine. It was great to know that there were other places and other stories that I could learn from. Star Wars didn’t just provide me many hours of entertainment, it provided me with dreams and a hope for a larger world.
I’ve introduced the original films to my 6yo and 2yo sons, and we had them playing continuously during the holiday break. While there were moments they liked, they usually drifted back into toys or something more exciting. I get it, the pacing on the films are uneven, and as a kid I would be bored with it too; the difference is we didn’t have remote controls and fast forward back then! The stage has been set though, and I remain hopeful that as they get older we can revisit the old films and watch new ones together.
What are your earliest memories of Star Wars? What lessons did you learn from it, and how did it shape you into the person you are today?
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Sam Chow was born and raised in the Mississippi Delta. A 5th grade field trip to Space Camp started his lifelong love of technology and engineering. He juggled working in Huntsville while studying for his engineering degree at Mississippi State and moved here full-time in 2001. He and his lovely wife Connie were married in 2006 and currently have a five year old and a two year old, a dog, and a cat. In his spare time he enjoys training and watching mixed martial arts, watching old foreign films, reading, and video gaming.