Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Those Really Hard Questions

There comes, I imagine, a day in every parent's life, when their child begins to ask the really tough questions. The ones about starvation and injustice . . . the ones about loss and mortality . . . the ones about anal beads and where babies come from.

Well, I had one of those moments with my sister's kid the other night. I was babysitting her because her mother had a date, so I picked the child up at the shoe store across from the Wal-mart parking lot. I took her to Burger King, then we went to my place, and in trying to keep the eight year old entertained, I asked her what movie she wanted to watch.

She suggested we watch STAR WARS again, Joss bless her.*

So, we were about two minutes into it, when Leia is putting the data into Artoo, and my niece asked me "Uncle Rish, who were Princess Leia's mom and dad?"

I had to pause and think about what to say. The easy answer was to lie to the girl ("They're on Alderaan, her home planet") or to give a limited but truthful answer ("At this point in the series, we don't know"), or be like my father was whenever I asked a question like that and say, "Why don't you go look it up instead of asking me?"

But the truth? I'M not the girl's father, I don't have the right to tell her things like that, do I? If she asks me those really tough questions (the ones that occur to every child at some point), for example:
"What's an abortion?"
"What was the Holocaust?"
"What is a roofie?"
"Why do we celebrate Christmas on December 25th if that was a pagan observance not in the least bit rooted in Christianity or Santa Clausanity?"
"Who was Ted Bundy?"
"Why do people use the N-word?"
"Why do you keep magazines between your mattress and the box spring on your bed?"
"Why do people in the Middle East hate us?"
"Why is Paris Hilton famous?"

Is it my place to answer? And if so, how to I explain it so as not to frighten her about the world, or shatter her innocence? She shares some of my genes, and has an overactive imagination, and I could just picture her, lying awake in bed, staring at the ceiling, thinking about midichlorians and Jake Lloyd putting together C-3PO and it being forbidden for a Jedi to love and antics with battledroids and Padme simply giving up on life despite having two newborns to care for and present obstetric technology so advanced its practically magic.

I shudder at the thought.

It didn't occur to me until just now that I probably could have said, "I'll tell you when you're older." So, I told her that her mother was a queen and that's why she's a princess, and that her father was Darth Vader.

That opened a can of worms when she realised that it made Luke and Leia siblings, and wondered why Vader, if he had the Force so good, couldn't sense her. Not to mention the "And now, your Highness, we will discuss the hidden location of your Rebel base" scene.

Ah well. At least she fell asleep before the part where Leia retreats to the Rebels' secret stronghold despite knowing that there's a tracking device onboard her ship and that the Empire let them escape hoping she would do just that.

Innocence only lasts for so long, kids.

Rish Outfield Organa

*Actually, she wanted to see the one where Luke Skywalker goes to the bar where Chewbacca and all the monsters are and there's a pit underneath where a green girl falls and then Luke Skywalker has to fight the big monster that lives down there.

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