Another thing I've learned as a parent of two young children is that concepts I take for granted as being relatively easy to grasp can blow the mind of a 4-year-old boy.
Take the movie Star Wars for example. The other day, Jeff decided that Rollie wasn't being mentally challenged enough by the idea that my belly is roughly the size of a bean bag chair because tucked away inside is a small human, and so he introduced Rollie to the magical world of Storm Troopers, Wookies, and Harrison Ford before he divorced his wife, got an earring and can only get roles where he is either about to retire, coming out of retirement, or on his way to a rest home.
|Episode XXVIII--Mark Hamill Looking Like He Could Use A Nap.|
And A Shower
And so we drew the blinds, popped some popcorn and settled in to watch Episode IV--Mark Hamill At His Aesthetic Peak.
The opening music blared, and I started reading the opening paragraph to Rollie. And thus, the incessant line of questioning commenced.
Me: "It is a period of civil war...."
Rollie: What's civil war?
Me: Um...it's when certain factions within an empire are fighting against each other.
Rollie: ....What's a faction?
Me: Just a group...of people....
Rollie: Why are they fighting?
Me: Hang on a sec...."Rebel spaceships, fighting from a hidden base...."
Rollie: What's a rebel spaceship?
Me: Rollie, just listen...".have won their first victory against the evil Galactic empire."
Rollie: Why is the galactic empire evil? Are they bad guys?
Rollie: But why are they evil?
Me: I don't know exactly. Maybe they're just grumpy.
Rollie: The galactic empire is grumpy?
Me: ....Sure. The grumpy galactic empire. (George Lucas is probably rolling over in his hyperbaric chamber right now)
Rollie: Where are the bad guys?
Me: Rollie, you want me to read this or not? "....During the battle, rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the empire's secret weapon, the Death Star."
Rollie: What's a Death Star?
Me: Weren't you listening? It's the empire's secret weapon.
Rollie: Is the empire full of bad guys?
Me: Yes, remember? The grumpy galactic empire?
Rollie: But why are they grumpy?
Me: Rollie, I don't know. Maybe they didn't take their naps.
Rollie: But where are they?
Me: You'll see. "....Princess Leia races home aboard her starship...."
Elsa (whose eyes have suddenly lit up): Where's Princess Leia?
Me: Oh...well, she's coming.
Elsa: Is she a princess?
Me: Yeah, kinda.
Rollie: Aw, there's a princess in this?
Me: Yes, but she's really strong. She's a strong princess.
Elsa: Can I see her?
Me: ...In a second, Els.
This peppering of questions should have indicated to Jeff and me that we were in for a very chatty 112 minutes of intergalactic excitement. It was like Rollie was a newborn who also had the ability to speak and had absolutely no idea what the hell anything was. Everything was foreign, strange and extremely realistic (pretty impressive for 1977, which also spat out such cinematic gems as Orca, King Kong and Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo).
So for the next several scenes, Jeff and I took turns answering Rollie's questions, which ranged from the basic (What's a Jawa?), the esoteric, (What's the force?), the complicated, (Where are Luke Skywalker's mommy and daddy?), and the materialistic (Can I have a real light saber like he has?). I guess I'd never realized how confusing Star Wars really is. I mean, watching it as an adult is a whole new experience for me. I never realized what a whiney little bitch Luke Skywalker is. Or that the man who played C3-PO must have been incredibly uncomfortable during the filming. Or that throughout the entire movie, Carrie Fischer is not wearing a bra.
Plus, unless you already have some background knowledge of the plot, Star Wars is actually pretty complex. And that's for your average adult. For a kid who still hides his eyes during particularly intense sequences of Little Bear, Star Wars piles on some heavy, heavy sh*t. Throw in laser guns, light sabers, and the cantina scene when Obi Wan chops that guy's arm off (which thankfully Jeff and I remembered was coming and shielded our children's eyes before they could see the brutal aftermath of what happens when you mess with the wrong Jedi), and I started to wonder why the hell we thought it was a good idea to feed Rollie a bunch of material that will give him his first taste of Hollywood-induced nightmares (at least that don't involve being forced to watch Hot Tub Time Machine like Jeff has been trying to do to me for the past few weekends....).
We didn't make it very far past the cantina scene before Rollie started asking about Yoda, the more kid-friendly character of the series. Because he has older cousins, Rollie's already been exposed to several characters and plot lines of the trilogies. He also knows that Darth Vader used to be good, and (spoiler alert) that he is Luke Skywalker's father. Although he still doesn't really get why, if Darth Vader is such a bad-ass, his light saber is pink. I suppose some mysteries of the galaxy will never be solved.
Like why Orca never attained the critical acclaim of Jaws....