Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Star Wars no, cigarettes yes

As Star Wars becomes more and more a part of our lives -- in our kids' toys, in their books, in the things their friends tell them about -- I finally got my wife to relent on making our five-year-old hold off on seeing these movies until he turns six. Which is in August, so not so far away anyway.

"You can watch it next weekend with him if you want," she said, strains of resignation in her voice, but also a hint of the acknowledgement that it was time.

Next weekend, no, but I thought school holidays would make a perfect occasion. The first week of school holidays, starting June 27th, will be my last week on my current part-time schedule. I'll return to full time the following week and my wife will pick up my current schedule. That means I'll have my older son home with me that Tuesday and Wednesday, and have two- to three-hour chunks of available time while the younger one is napping. So not only could we watch Star Wars, but if it goes well, we could conceivably watch Empire as well. I'd already thought about reserving both movies from the library, but had held off before now because I didn't want them to be due back before then.

I hadn't told my son about this plan yet, but decided to spring it on him yesterday when the topic of Star Wars came up again, as it does somewhat regularly.

"Hey," I told him. "You know what we're going to watch during school holidays?"


"Star Wars."

"No no," he said hurriedly.


This was unexpected.

"Why not?" I asked incredulously.

"Well, I've already seen Lego Star Wars and I think it might be too scary."

His mother's words.

He continued, "Maybe I'll watch it when I'm ten or 11 or something."

Ten? Or 11? Or something?

"Oh, you'll want to watch it long before then," I assured him, but felt deflated by the whole exchange. I tried to work the angle that he had expressed envy that some of his other friends had seen it, but he wasn't picking up on it. In fact, he claimed not even to remember the incident.

This was walking out of the library. Taken in combination with an event that occurred on the way in to the library, it seemed even funnier.

As the three of us -- both kids and me -- were making our way from the parked car to the Docklands library, we passed a couple twentysomethings sitting outside a Subway smoking cigarettes.

My son said that he "saw a smoker," and asked me how smoking cigarettes works. I sensed a teachable moment, but didn't want to come down too hard on smoking, lest I make it seem like a forbidden fruit that he wants to sample as soon as possible. So I told him that they breathe the smoke into their lungs and blow it out, and they do it because they like how it tastes and because it gives them a buzz, explaining briefly what a "buzz" was. But I made sure to finish up by saying "But most people think it's gross."

"I don't think it's gross," he surprised me by saying.

I asked him why.

"Because it looks a little warm, and I like to be a little warm," he said. "And I just walked by and smelled it and I thought it smelled good."

Good lord.

So he's too young to watch Star Wars but not too young to smoke cigarettes.

To quote C3PO from the old public service announcement, "Well I don't think smoking makes you look grown-up at all. Smoking does dreadful things to your lungs, and is very bad for your heart."

Maybe one day, if my son actually knows who C3PO is from a viewing of Star Wars, he'll heed the wise droid's advice.


Wendell Ottley said...

Very cute story. I got a good chuckle out of it. Hopefully, he will indeed heed C3PO's advice.

Derek Armstrong said...

Thanks Wendell!

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