Star Wars and Potty Training: The Two Poles of Parenthood
You know what? Chewbacca does look like a grumpy dog.
This past week has been a big one at my house, with two ongoing major life milestones for my little girl. First, my wife decided that now that the kiddo's fourth birthday is on the horizon — she's almost exactly three-and-a-half — it's time to stop fucking around and get her potty trained. I decided, in a similar vein, it was time to stop fucking around and introduce her to the Star Wars movies. Both projects are going swimmingly.
This was not our first attempt at potty training. We've tried, on and off, more or less half-heartedly, since she was two. The problem is, we had no fucking idea what we were doing and our results showed it, and by that I mean she wasn't potty trained but would sometimes randomly want to use the potty, just for the hell of it. Finally my wife decided it was time to figure it out in true geek fashion, meaning she researched what the best-regarded book on the topic was and read it, then gave me the tl;dr because I am truly lazy.
I'd done kind of the same thing with Star Wars, giving our daughter a few toys to play with (she called Chewbacca "a grumpy dog") and a few cool books that recreate the key scenes via felt. Like I said, no real plan or clue, and the results showed, meaning she still thought Chewbacca was a grumpy dog, even though I made her memorize all the characters' names while we read the books over and over. Finally I decided it was time, and I didn't need a book. I just tracked down the despecialized editions (I'll be damned if any child of mine is going to be introduced to a Star Wars where Han didn't shoot first) and told her we were going to watch a movie.
She loved it. All two hours of it. She didn't fidget or get up or act bored even once, and if you have kids this age, you know how unusual that can be. She did ask a shitload of questions and throw in a fair number of comments, from noting that she liked the opening music to asking why Darth Vader needs to wear a mask. And of course Darth Vader — who almost derailed the whole thing before we started because after seeing him in the books she said he was "too scary" — was her favorite character, and for a good half hour after it was over she was stalking around the living room doing the most adorable imitation of his raspy, machine-aided breathing you can possibly imagine.
The next day we watched Empire and that went just as well. This time a lot of her questions were about when we were going to see her favorite characters again, because there's nothing like the impatience of a three-year-old who has to wait ten minutes to see Vader grace the screen. Most important, even though I don't think she quite felt the gravity of the big reveal that Vader was Luke's dad, she did seem genuinely surprised and thoughtful. I'll take it. She did get a little bored during the latest, Attack of the Clones (Machete order, of course), but come on — that movie is at least thirty minutes too long, and plenty boring at times. She also kept asking when Anakin was going to turn into Vader, already, a sentiment I think we can all appreciate.
Potty training has gone just as well, and way better than we imagined. I won't go into the gritty details, but she's taken to it like a true champ, with only one minor accident that was really more of the "took too long to get the pants off" than "oops, forgot I wasn't in a diaper" variety. According to the schedule in our book, by this time next week we'll basically have a fully potty-trained child. Coincidentally, we'll also have a child who's fully up-to-speed on the Star Wars canon, minus the latest film, which I probably won't have seen either by then. Maybe I can take her to her first theater movie as a reward for achieving full potty-trained status, if I can find a kid-friendly matinee where no one will murder me for taking a child that asks a question roughly every 48 frames.
Like I said, it's been a week of big milestones and what are sure to be great memories. We watch each movie curled up on the couch, my arm around her. Her constant questions are never annoying, because I love sharing my admittedly way-too-extensive knowledge of Star Wars canon with an eager audience. I am dealing with far fewer diapers than any point in the last eighteen months (her younger brother is still diaper-bound, for at least another four or five months) and I am discovering the odd similarity between potty training and Star Wars fandom, like the fact that in both cases, you're going to have to deal with a fair bit of poop to reach the end goal (seriously Jar Jar, fuck off). It's been the hard work and the great rewards of parenting, all rolled up into one kickass week of child-rearing, and her incipient love for the franchise that shaped my life all those years ago is going to make for a perfect Star Wars-themed holiday season — even if The Force Awakens sucks.
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