nesting * geeking * critiquing

Posts tagged “child’s perspective

Saving Santa

While I’m a big kid myself, I’ve never been a big ‘kid person.’ I can remember saying as a child that I never wanted to have children…these days I’m more open to the idea but we’re not taking any drastic measures to add to our little family. The dogs and cat keep us company without demanding much in the way of obligation, and we’re generally happy with life at the moment.

Not being a ‘kid person’ does not, however, mean that I wholly dislike being around kids. On the contrary, I think spending time with them can offer fresh perspective that’s good for the soul. I just happen to like my time spent in small doses.

The day before Thanksgiving, I had one such opportunity at work. A coworker had brought in her son, C, an adorable third grader; when she needed to run an errand, C got to hang out at my desk for a little while. We watched some videos on YouTube to pass the time—BMX bikers, domino tricks (“those have to be fake!”) and What Does the Fox Say?—which sparked some fantastic conversations. During the fox video, C declared that the costumed singers were dorky but the grandpa character was funny. I commented on his beard looking “like Santa Claus’s.”

“Santa has a really long beard. I wonder how long it’s been since he shaved?” C mused before answering his own question. “Probably not since he was a kid.”
I don’t remember my response, but it was something of the nod-along variety.
“But he’s a VERY generous man,” C stated most sincerely with a little sparkle in his eye. “Bringing toys to all of the little children…it’s amazing.”

“Yep, Santa’s an awfully good guy,” I agreed and made a mental note to choose my words carefully so as not to spoil any of the magic.
“Did you know some kids don’t believe in Santa Claus?” C looked at me with wide eyes full of astonishment.
Trying to appear dumbstruck, I replied, “Really? Well that’s just silly. He still visits me every year!”

“Yeah,” C dismissed my comment and continued, “They think it’s their moms and dads. But how would they even do that?? It’s SO late and they’re in bed asleep.”
I shook my head and shrugged.
“I mean, I know my dad, and I don’t think he’s the kind of person to do that. He likes to sleep.”
“Dads do like their sleep,” I offered just before C got distracted by one of the video suggestions on the screen.

Jedi Master Yoda famously declares in Attack of the Clones: Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is.
And I have to say after interactions like this one, I completely agree.

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What About the Bad Guys?

Once upon a time, I worked a job that was soul-crushingly awful. And “soul-crushingly awful” describes only the good days. The bad days were akin to sliding face-first down a giant razor blade straight into a vat of boiling acid. It’s not a huge exaggeration to say that there were days when I left feeling like the Gestapo dude whose face melts off at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Those days sucked, and they surfaced far too frequently.

Admittedly, there were a few perks: the pay was pretty decent for my first gig out of college, and a handful of my coworkers were fantastic. One of those associates was named Amy.

Ultimately, the positives failed to outweigh the negatives, and I abandoned the company just shy of my 2-year anniversary. As it turns out, my departure helped pave the way for an infinitely better work environment—the greatest offender came face to face with a pink slip based in large part on my exit interview feedback. I was lauded as a heroine, the provocateur who sparked a revolution towards emancipation. But I digress.

Amy left said company several months prior to my departure to devote time to her photography business (she’s phenomenally good!). Thanks to the magic of technology, we kept in touch via email and, eventually, social networking. Her family relocated to the Seattle area, so we made plans to visit this time around. Some 7 years after parting ways, I finally saw Amy again!

Amy and her husband Justin have fantastic kids: Luke, Ella & Matthias.
We’re not much of kid people, but these three almost converted us. In addition to their fun little personalities, they all dig Star Wars. Luke is a fan of facts…and Luke Skywalker. Ella crushes on Qui-Gon Jinn and Yoda (hey, the heart wants what it wants haha). And Matthias, well, he loves it all—a youngling after my own heart.

‘Thias buddied up to us pretty quickly, a rarity in our childless world. He asked to ride in our car, so I gave him my iPhone to look at pictures of my SW room.
He noticed all sorts of little details that would’ve been lost on most people. One of the more obvious things he commented on was my shelf that features Darth Vader and Stormtroopers.

In his adorable first-grader voice, Matthias asked, “Why do you like the bad guys so much?”

Imagine the sound of crickets for a moment, because that’s what was happening in my head. I had nothing. I’d never given much thought to the idea that I even do like the bad guys. So the answer I gave, the answer that needed the least explanation and self-evaluation was, “I think they look cool.” And they do.

There was a little sigh from the back seat, followed by Matthias’s emphatic response, “I think they look cool, too…but I don’t want them to wiiiin!”

And that’s what reminded me that Star Wars is so much more than the collector-y thrill that it has largely become for me and many other adults. At its core, Star Wars is a character study on the dichotomy of good and evil, of flux and fealty. Fantastical creatures and places and escapades are the proverbial icing on the cake. {Side note: I ADORE cake & icing!}

I loved the SW toys when I was a kid not because they looked cool but because they were a tangible piece of the Star Wars universe. With action figures in hand, I could live out scenes from my favorite adventures. The characters literally became part of my world.

It didn’t matter that I was an only child; most of my SW toys weren’t games that required multiple players to make them fun. It didn’t matter that I was a girl; my SW toys ranged from Ewok stuffed animals (they call them “plush” in the industry today) to action figures that I could “girl-ify” if I so chose—I crafted clothing for Princess Leia using flower petals and scotch tape. My SW toys went hand in hand with my imagination, which paid no mind to the societal constraints that loom in adult consciousness.
Perhaps that’s why I’m still so drawn to toys: they take me back to a time when the world and its worries were no concern of mine.

At some point in my life, I guess I sold out a little bit. I lost sight of the whimsy and gravitated towards what was deemed cool.

For those who’ve forgotten (or weren’t alive yet), there wasn’t much about Star Wars that was still deemed cool by the early ’90s. As I recall, the franchise was all but extinct in the public’s consciousness. It wasn’t until word began spreading of production for the 20th-anniversary “Special Edition” theatrical re-release that the tendrils of SW began to poke back into the collective pop-culture mindset.

The ‘steroid series’ of Hasbro figures launched in 1995, to the mutual delight and chagrin of toy enthusiasts. The classic heroes looked ridiculous, which played into my affinity for the darker characters. The “bad guys” still managed to look cool.

Also responsible was my age and resultant awareness. After a war in the Persian Gulf and bombings at the World Trade Center and Oklahoma federal building, the world around me seemed less gentle. Even fashion and music had trended edgier, more alternative (thanks, Kurt Cobain!).
I began to accept the inevitability of growing up, acknowledging the more melancholy aspects of life as well as the tumult within myself. And yet, I held to the hope of a happy ending.

One needn’t squint too hard to see how that is reflected by Lord Vader, even all those years before we learned of Anakin’s petulant twerp tendencies.

So, that’s why I like the Star Wars bad guys. It’s not just because they look cool, but because they embody the notion that life isn’t always neat and tidy. Were it not for bad guys, there would be no reason for “good” people to rise up and defend honor or virtue. Plus, they are a steadfast reminder that any of us, even the most vile, has a chance for redemption.

On the last night of our Washington stay, we had dinner at Amy’s house. I was treated to a lightsaber battle, a thorough examination of action figures, a cross-examination about SW trivia (most questions starting with, “Do you know…” or “Guess what?!”) and episodes of The Clone Wars and The Yoda Chronicles.

The Force is strong with these friends of mine!

Luke & Matthias

Luke & Matthias, Halloween 2012