I was a child of the 80’s but luckily I had a brother who was a child of the 70’s because when he outgrew his toys I was the inheritor of them. Typically hand-me-downs suck but not in the case of one specific collection of his…Star Wars.
Some of my earliest memories were of me with my best friends: R2D2, Wicket, and the Rancor. Some of my greatest memories were with my mom building my collection by going to garage sales and buying the Ewok Village, Millennium Falcon, and Jabba’s Palace at the expense of some kid off to college while his mom sells his “toys”.
My imagination was out of this world the moment I brought my Kenner kin out of their cases and prepared them for battle. What some would see as a piece of styrofoam, I saw as the bunkers of Hoth. What others would see as sticks and twigs I saw as the planet Endor. These are the oldest memories I have where I can see my imagination at work.
Spending time in that Galaxy Far, Far Away allowed me to take time off of that which was so much closer to me. A world where my mom would break down crying, while doing the dishes, because it gave her too much time to think about my recently deceased father. It took me away from the world where my family had to move in with my grandparents who didn’t make it a secret that we were more of a burden than a blessing. It took me away from the world where it would only take one little accident and I would be parentless and potentially separated from my siblings. Yeah, life wasn’t all roses as a young child but it wasn’t nearly as bad as it sounds because having such an imagination could make fears and anxieties so much more real and tangible.
Some people may say that my Star Wars collection provided an escape from dealing with reality but I believe it to have been the ability to provide a young child with the opportunity to rest and allow my anxiety and stress to level off so that I could recharge and go back at life stronger and with more confidence. That to me is healthy and something children probably aren’t allowed to do as much anymore. With the internet and social media we’re constantly comparing our children’s progress when it comes to learning, coping, and their ability to deal with traumatic life changes.
Fast forward 30 years and I’m married to my high school sweetheart with a son of my own. I showed him Star Wars Episode IV once, I promise only once, when he was 18 months and he’s seen an R2D2 that we have in our house but besides that I’ve never pushed anything Star Wars on him because I wanted him to discover his own excitement for a toy line, if any at all. Well the force is strong with this one because without any of my doing he’s fallen in love with BB-8 by seeing him at the toy store, he’s been star struck (no pun intended) by Stormtroopers in commercials asking who they were and now calling them out wherever he sees them, and he even retained the music that when we were at a halftime show, and they opened with the theme song, his jaw dropped and eyes lit up (see video below).
Because of this we decided to give him a Star Wars Christmas and he couldn’t have been happier. He opened the Ewok Village (with Wicket included) and at that point he didn’t care to open up anything else because he just wanted to play with only that (and that’s with not seeing Return of the Jedi yet but he saw the Star Wars logo on the box and was excited). Then we let him open the Speeder Bike with a Stormtrooper included and you could see he was overjoyed to have a “Storm Poocher” of his very own. However, the pièce de résistance was the Millennium Falcon with R2D2, Chewbacca, and Han Solo included. He played with them like I’ve never seen him play with toys. He stationed them in their places, he shot the turrets, and he interacted with them in a way that was all too familiar to me. Right now these ARE just toys to him but to me they are an exercise in working out his imagination, they are a way to feel tied to something he has excitement over, and they are a connection to his father more than he can could ever know at this age.
Because I was a part of his new world, I wanted to introduce him to my old world, even if selfishly. What I found was that the results were:
that lead into being overwhelmed,
but finished with elation and adventure.
And this is when polypropylene becomes paramount.