Ten years ago, TEN, I saw a Star Wars onesie at Hot Topic with “Future Jedi Master” printed on the front. I bought it immediately. I knew SOMEDAY either I would have a use for it, or one of my friends would.
We are nerds. Of varying degrees and types, but everyone I spend any degree of time with is a nerd. So Star Wars is always a hit, and as it happened, I got to use the onesie for my own baby. It got me thinking though, watching him roll around in his Jedi shirt.
Maybe it’s just the hormones. Maybe it’s paranoia. These days, I swerve between absolute joy, and horror at the possibility of loss of any kind(with bouts of boredom and exhaustion thrown in for good measure).
So, as much as anyone might wish to banish the prequels from existence (and I don’t, I’d keep them if only for the light-sabre battles), I kept thinking about Yoda declaring 9 year old Anakin Skywalker too old for the training.
When DO children start training at the Jedi Temple? 8 and a half? 6? 3? Infancy? I suspect the (fictional) answer is around 4 or 5, much as you might see of young athletes being taken for training in some places. Or, you know, Battle School.
Battle School isn’t a bad parallel. You have this child, who has in all likelihood been remarkable since he or she was a baby. Not to say that people would love their gifted children more than typical children, but a precocious toddler probably has a little extra sparkle and charm.
And then your baby tests too high on the midichlorian scale and your life is just ripped apart. You get those fuzzy bright – too sweet years, and then you don’t see them until they’re vague and peaceful calm as Obi Wan. Does anyone refuse? You leave this beautiful bright four year old to meet his destiny and 20 years later, he’s a stranger who has seen more of the universe than you’re capable of imagining. Maybe all parenting is kind of like that.
But maybe it’s not like that at all. Maybe the four year old isn’t so much adorably brilliant as he is frustratingly advanced. Maybe he constantly pushes against your artificial boundaries, ready to cross them long before you are ready to let him. Maybe all parenting is kind of like that too. But this little child doesn’t just cause trouble in school when he’s bored, he levitates, and talks his teachers into letting him have extra recess. Every day. Maybe if hadn’t been found by the Jedi, he would have been lost on a path of drugs, crime and force lightning.
And maybe you don’t have to just hand him over to the priesthood, maybe that was just unique to Anakin’s circumstances, what with Mom being a slave. I mean, obviously it’s a boarding school, I doubt they have Jedi-letts who commute, but maybe they have parents weekends every couple months. Maybe the little ones put down their training sabres and pack up for a long holiday over Thanksgiving. Maybe they make paper planets with heart stickers and glitter for Mother’s Day.
Then there’s sure to be at least a few families who moved to Coruscant to be near their Jedi tots. In fact some probably even moved to Coruscant just in hopes that their child would be accepted. They probably used special belly-headphones to play special force channeling soundtracks for the fetus. When the baby turned 18 months, they enrolled him in a class that claims to raise midichlorian levels, satisfaction guaranteed.
Do the parents ever hang out watching light-sabre kata practice? Does Dad pick his Jedi up from a match with a younger but more talented boy and scold him for not triple flipping into the opening he saw two and a quarter minutes in, or what about a little force nudge when the kid blinked sweat out of his eyes a minute later? Does Mom observe her daughter meditating and tell her maybe she needs to work a little harder at it since she always seems to need to itch her nose after only a few hours?
Why do I assume the Jedi parents would be overbearing and… awful?
I guess it’s because I know (however it is you can know something about a fictional universe) that there is no room for parents in the world of the Jedi. Parents are distracting, they are attachment, they turn Anakins into Darth Vaders.
If it’s genetics (and Luke says it is) most parents of Jedi must have had some feel for the force as well. Probably they wouldn’t have turned into Toddlers & Tiaras type psychos, they would have been sensitive, aware of nuances, feeling the subtle needs of their baby. They would have been there with a hug when the training was too difficult, they would have felt the pain of struggle, of the alienation that must be necessary to finally attain a detached calm. And the hugs might keep the student from struggling through, from learning what needed to be learned.
Was a Jedi ever allowed to be a child? Did they have time for games and giggling and stupid stunts, or was it all concentration and breathing?
The Jedi. The Jedi’s father. The athlete and her parents. Theresa and John Paul and Ender Wiggin, Mr. and Mrs. Madrid. The parent of every real world soldier, alive and slain. They give so much, and we expect it all of them. Was it worth it? What they missed, what they lost?