Tonight I fully expected that I would write a blog post about living the past four days with no electricity in 100-degree heat. Turns out I’m not quite over the ordeal yet, and I need a little more perspective and air conditioning before I can get my blog on. Besides, Spike is running a Star Wars marathon and I haven’t seen TV since Thursday.
This is probably what’s got me thinking about beloved stories that can shape a childhood. Namely, the Little House on the Prairie series, the Harry Potter series, and the Star Wars movies. These might not be everyone’s beloved stories from childhood, but this is my blog and I get to pick.
I’m a bit of a nerdy adult, and you don’t get that way unless you were also a nerdy kid. I’m pretty sure that I need glasses today because of all the reading I did when I was younger. It wasn’t so much the act of reading, it was the after-bedtime reading I did, using books I hid under my pillow and the dim, orange light from the controller to my electric blanket. That will fizzle out your retinas, for sure. If that’s not bad enough, I also had a bookshelf inside my closet. I would enter the closet, turn on the light, choose a book, and prop myself up on a heap of stuffed animals to read. It was my own little library, not unlike the closet where ET lived in Elliott’s house. Did I mention I was an only child?
Anyway, these stories are some of my fondest today. They are all great tales, full of heroes (Harry, Luke, Pa) and enemies (Voldemort, Darth Vader, the Long Winter). All have protagonists that kids can relate to — even Luke as a whiny teenager. Although my two boys may not be crazy about Laura Ingalls, I know that I will share with them the love of my favorites, and the lessons they taught me.
In no particular order, here’s what I’d love for my kids (or anyone’s kids) to learn from these tales:
- Listen to your Ma. If you pay attention to her cooking lessons, you can stretch four kernels of wheat far enough to feed eighteen people for six weeks.
- Don’t be jealous of your sister. She may be prettier than you, but you’re spunky. Spunky goes a lot farther in life than pretty does. Gravity finds everyone eventually.
- Pa will keep moving the family West until they freeze, starve, or get eaten by a bear. Nobody questions him. Why is that?
- A family of four can live happily in a dirt cave dug out of a riverbank.
- Winter sucks. Plan ahead. Can and preserve anything that isn’t nailed down. Do it before the first frost hits, or you might have to eat your dog.
- The neighbor’s son just might be the perfect match for you. Especially if his name is Manly.
- Be careful who you kiss — she might be your twin sister.
- Han Solo gave every man permission to respond “I know” when a woman proclaims her love. Until Han Solo spoke those words, saying “I know” was kind of a jerk move.
- Despite the outcome of Return of the Jedi, Ewoks have no place on the battlefield.
- The Cantina is no place for teenagers. If you like having two arms, keep out.
- Come in small packages, powerful people do.
- The dialogue may be cheesy and wooden, but you have to admit that lightsabers are really cool.
- Boba Fett had maybe two lines of dialogue in the entire series. People remember him because he’s badass, not because of anything he says. Attention George Lucas: he deserved better than to fall into the sarlacc on Tattoine. And yes, I had to use Wikipedia to find the name and correct spelling of that pit with teeth.
- George Lucas will keep fiddling with these films until his bitter end. We wish he wouldn’t. We beg him to stop, but he can’t help himself. Find it in your heart to forgive him.
- Princess Leia wrote the manual on how to braid super-long hair. There is no arguing on this point.
- The movies must be watched in the correct order: 4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3. There are three reasons for this:
- This order gives you the understanding that Star Wars is really Darth Vader’s story. It’s not Luke’s or Obi Wan’s. It belongs to Vader.
- This order assures that you won’t get dazzled by the CGI in 1 – 3, and mistakenly think that 4 – 6 look dated. The Empire Strikes Back will NEVER be dated.
- Because I’m your mother, and I say we watch #4 first.
- Even the biggest hero has humble beginnings. There are few beginnings more humble than the cupboard under the stairs.
- Everyone knows a Neville. He needs good friends. Go find him and invite him to sit at your lunch table.
- Bossy girls sometimes don’t understand how bossy they are. Find gentle ways to break them of this habit without crushing their ego. They mean well, even if they are obnoxious. If you befriend a bossy girl, she may even repair your glasses for you when you crack the frames. Oculus reparo.
- Sometimes we sort too soon.
- A mother’s love lives within you forever, even after your mom is gone.
- Your childhood crush can define you for a very long time. Choose love wisely, or you may be doomed to watch her marry another and then have to teach the insufferable brat in your potions class. Or you may risk your life to watch over her son, just because he has her eyes. Romantic? Sure. Satisfying? Not so much.
- Of course it is happening inside your head–but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?
- We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.
- Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can’t see where it keeps its brain.
- When in doubt, the answer is probably in Hogwarts: A History.
- Be kind to those you meet. We all have our burdens. You never know who’s secretly a werewolf or has parents in St. Mungo’s.
And the best advice of all: Do, or do not. There is no try.