Star Wars & Kids

(The photo for this page was just one I randomly found on Google Images)

Yesterday I found myself sitting in the pharmacy for quite a while waiting for some meds to address a root canal I’d just had. During that time, I had the incredible experience of watching two kids see Star Wars for the first time.

The boy and girl were there to translate for their father which would have been an noteworthy enough experience by itself. The girl, in particular, had to sit up on the counter because she probably wasn’t even a meter tall, but she effortlessly interpreted from English doctor-speak to Arabic and back, even though there had been some problems with the order. Meanwhile, the boy approached me confidently, pointed at the screen, and asked “Is this Star Wars?”

Although this was one of the prequels, I knew this was not the time for snobbery or splitting of hairs, so I answered that yes, it was. I don’t think I’d ever seen so much joy in a child’s face as he shouted “Yes!” and his face became instantly glued to the screen. His sister wanted to watch, but the boy said that Star Wars was for boys. I quickly but kindly corrected him and said that many girls love Star Wars and there are many great girl characters (Once again, with respect to the fantastic actor of Natalie Portman, there are no great female characters in the prequels, but certainly the series as a whole has some).

I remained impressed at the girl’s interpretation abilities, and when she and her dad ended up waiting for a bit, I told her (in my lispy post-root canal voice) that she was a great translator and that if it’s something she enjoys, she could consider it for a job in her future. “I know!” She said with a huge smile. She translated for her dad, and he nodded with a huge smile of pride and patted her on her head. Then, as we waited for what seemed like forever for our respective meds, I had the pleasure of watching these two kids become absorbed in the phenomenon that is Star Wars.

“Yes!” “No!” “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god!” It was so exciting to watch how absorbed they became. It reminded me so much of how I must have felt the first time I saw Luke, Leia, Han Solo, Obi Wan, and the rest of the gang fight their various battles against evil. And the kids had so many questions, but yet quickly agreed that Yoda was their favorite.

Within no time, the boy was explaining to his father what the Force was although he was just learning it himself, and I’ll be honest, the dad was looking like he was enjoying it too.

At some point, the father and the daughter went up to the counter to get their medicine and talk with the pharmacist about how to use it. The girl would be talking in Arabic, I’d be hearing pharmaceutical words which were amazing to hear coming from a voice so small, and then her head would be tilting toward the screen where I’d hear “Oh god, don’t die!” Then the dad would lovingly put his hand on the girl’s head, and tilt it back towards the pharmacist who laughed and said “I will give you another lollipop for your help.” Lollipop apparently trumps Star Wars.

As they were leaving and I was still waiting, the boy asked me if Anakin Skywalker was dead. I said that he wasn’t, but he was about to become the coolest bad guy ever, and he’ll have so much fun watching those movies. The kids smiled and I felt like a new world of imagination had been open to them. I waved goodbye to the father, and wished them all a good day.

It was such a beautiful moment seeing that happy family interact with each other. I’ve long said that immigrants make America great, and while watching kid seeing Star Wars for the first time would have been memorable, seeing the pure joy it brought these kids, even as they had interpretation work to do, was pure joy for me. It filled me vicariously with the awe and possibility of wonder in the universe those kids were feeling, and I wish that wonder for everyone.

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