When our oldest was born it was a obviously a life-changing event. And while there have been and continue to be unforgettable moments and memories unmatched, among the first occurred within that first of week of her life. Merely days old, yet already showing personality, I cuddled her into my arms and together we embarked on an unforgettable, light-years spanning journey that would forever shape and change our little world as we know it: together we watched Star Wars.
I don’t mean a little snippet, a brief clip, some Tik-Tok expose or a random 30-minute episode; we took in all six feature length films that were released at the time and in the “proper” order, as Lucas intended. It is a memory that washes over me at any mention of that galaxy far, far away. We bonded, not over the actual plot of the films, of course, but through an emotional and physical connection that could never be matched or compared.
In the 6-years that followed, she has developed her own memory of this experiences and she brings it up with an impressive level of frequency. She talks about the characters often and is so proud of her knowledge of the universe that is: The Skywalker Family. So much is this a part of her that for Christmas this year, she went to the library and rented the original movie and gifted it to me alongside a bag of popcorn and a personalized card letting me know that her gift to me would be time together, once again cuddled on the couch, travelling back to the fantastical world of X-wings, Rancors and Storm Troopers.
Then, last week to my continued surprise, she came home with a series of early reader books from the school library, some old, some new and all from The Star Wars saga. The excitement and pride in her eyes when she opened up her backpack was clearly something that deserved attention; to her these weren’t just books. These were important publications, chronicles, a compendium of the most important historical figures ever collected, and she wanted to show me that well she knows all of the characters, locations and whether or not they are “good guys” or “bad guys”. More than anything, however, she wanted to show me how she can read all of the words on all of the pages and she did this by reading the stories to her sister, who hung on to her every word.
Through her dissertation she recounted every bit of minutiae to her sibling with confidence and gusto. She explained the origins of each character, how their lives intermingled, how their fates played out, who was who’s father, sister, mentor, tormentor and which droids can be trusted. All told, from what I can fathom she knows more about that universe than I do. But that’s not why I’m proud.
In truth, I enjoy Star Wars and have my own fond memories growing up with the characters, but I am not as immersed into that world as this entry thus far implies. I am not up to date on whatever is or isn’t happening in the newest shows, comics or side-stories; as far as I know, Boba never escaped the Sarlacc Pit and I still don’t really understand what a Phantom Menace is. Quite frankly, I am surprised at how prevalent it seems to become in our family. So, when I title this entry and introduce it with expressions of pride, it isn’t for one second about Leia, Luke, Han or Chewie. No, what makes me proud is far greater than that. It’s rooted in watching our two amazing children find immeasurable joy in providing for others It’s about how, come time to plan for Christmas and think about gifts, they want, more than physical goods or toys, to spend time with us and each other. How they support, teach and encourage one another, be it giving a gift built around cuddling on the couch and revisiting cherished memories or reading each other stories of fantasy and imagination that are rooted in family, compassion and forgiveness. That is where my pride stems from.
It would be an understatement to claim that these past two years (and counting) have been challenge and a struggle. Far more people have experienced far greater levels of hardship than we have, and I would be naive and ignorant to state otherwise. Is working from home fun? Are zoom meetings enjoyable? Do I like wearing a mask all day? Is online schooling easy? Is my patience not tired of the ever-evolving grocery store logistics? This list of obstacles barely scratches the surface of frustrations that we and so many other households have had to endure. That all said, I am eternally grateful for one simple fact: through all of this, our kids have had each other.
Watching the two of them develop along side each other is an unbelievably warming thing to witness. They certainly have their moments of contention, but more often than not they are teaching and learning from the other’s experiences and are continuously encouraging one another to try, stretch, challenge and test their abilities. Nora teaching Audrey all about Star Wars by reading her the various adventures is not just an exercise in story-telling, it’s an incredibly complex scenario, steeped in fond memories but stacked high with so many layers of learning and development. Audrey stretches herself to follow and understand the words on the page as Nora coaches her along. Together they succeed in this undertaking about 80% of the time; the other 20% they work together to get through whatever word or paragraph that has them stumped. They do this in part by analyzing the pictures but most remarkably by thinking through what event would logically come next given the context of what happened on the pages that preceded it.
It goes both ways, too. Nora learns just as much from Audrey as she teaches. It’s fun to watch Audrey’s fearlessness inspire her older sister, an inspiration that has seen Nora evolve from her shy state into a confident and proud individual. Through most of the past 730 days, they’ve spent every waking moment together and their resilience and coping with Mom and Dad working full-time through it all has resulted in the most precious bond that I can only hope one day they’ll recognize and appreciate for all of it’s value and uniqueness.
Not for one second do I wish we were in this awful, tragic, traumatizing and painful scenario of a pandemic, but I have to admit that I’m also not completely sure that they would be developing this relationship otherwise. They encourage each other to share, explore, create and to appreciate and value time and experiences; it’s as though they are connected by some…I don’t know…Force.