When Elisabeth and I discovered we were having a baby, one thing became quickly apparent. The baby, be they girl, boy or intersex, was going to be raised a Star Wars fan. Towards the end of the pregnancy, the idea of starting ‘Raising a Rebel’ came to fruition and was born just weeks before our little Lorelei. It seemed only natural, being as we were two writers and Star Wars fans having a baby, to chronicle it and share with the community.
Star Wars was always going to be a part of our little one’s life and, call me optimistic, but I’m feeling confident that she’ll love this franchise too. When The Last Jedi was still in cinemas, and Elisabeth was still pregnant, Lori would kick inside her every time BB-8 was on screen or John Williams’ fanfare sounded. To this day, she still stops and looks up at the TV whenever that darling little droid is beeping and blooping.
Our first port of call after coming home from the hospital was catching up with the latest Forces of Destiny and marvelling at this beautiful child we’d made. After that we watched A New Hope together for the first time as a new family. Suddenly this franchise that had been part of my whole life was there for my one-day old daughter. The circle was now complete.
We’d joked, Elisabeth and I, about naming our kid after a Star Wars character. Ezra was our favourite for a boy, but, as we were delighted to discover, we were having a girl. Though we’d settled on Lorelei, her middle name was a different matter. She has two middle names, in fact. The first, Vivienne, was in honour of Elisabeth’s mother, who passed away before she got a chance to meet her granddaughter. The second, Amidala… well that one speaks for itself. It fills me with pride, seeing Padmé’s surname on my daughter’s birth certificate and passport. Whether she’ll love or loathe us for it in the future for it is another matter.
Returning from my paternity leave wasn’t easy, having quickly adjusted to my new life as a dad. But my work colleagues had bought me some cute new baby clothes, including an R2-D2 hat and vest which Lori still wears today. When she’s older, she’ll be able to look back on her baby pictures and see herself dressed in her R2 suit or Yoda bib and smile. This wasn’t her parents thrusting their pop culture passion on her but wanting to share something they adore.
One of the best ways to introduce your own little one to Star Wars is through toys. Now, I’m not talking about your vintage Kenner or LEGO sets, but plushies and such aimed at a younger age. And for us, it was all about the plushies. Even before she was born, Elisabeth and I would attend cons looking for things we could buy for the baby. One of those was an Itty Bitties Yoda, ready to watch over her in the crib. Since then, Lori has commandeered our Rey Build-a-Bear for herself. She’s also stolen my Ahsoka cushion – not that I’m bitter or anything.
Then there’s the bedroom. Let’s be honest here, getting a baby’s room ready is less about the little one and more about the parents. So yeah, I admit to making a space I would have wanted as a child. There’s Studio Ghibli stickers on the wall, framed pictures, books and soft toys galore. Oh, and the R2-D2 lampshade. I’m beginning to wonder if she’ll wind up speaking droid. I suppose psychologists would call this the exposure theory, or whatever, but I want her to associate these Star Wars signifiers with fun, warmth, friendship, family and home.
Although I’d already returned to work, Elisabeth hadn’t spent much longer than a few minutes away from Lori. But Solo was released into cinemas in May and there was no way we were missing it. So my mother kindly babysat so we could go and enjoy our first afternoon out together in months. Fun fact, Elisabeth was wearing her Darth Maul t-shirt without knowing anything about the film’s shock cameo. It was a great day out, but something about returning home to my daughter really brought home the reality of my new life as a parent.
So far this post has all been twin sunshine and roses, but being a parent is hard. It’s about discovering depths of patience you never knew you had, functioning on minimal sleep, being covered in bodily fluids, getting used to sharp little teeth and, perhaps most frightening of all, becoming a role model. Sometimes thinking about parenthood as raising a padawan is a comfort, knowing that we’re imparting our own wisdom and experience and hoping our little one can avoid making some of the same mistakes that we have. But then, I tend to learn best from making mistakes, so we need to step back and let her make them sometimes too. In all these things, compassion and patience is key – especially when she’s thrown up on our best clothes or got to the grown-up books yet again.
So, while Star Wars has been there for me as a child, it’s just as relevant as a father. Part of this blog was about exploring the parental aspects of the franchise, and I’ve found myself approaching paternal relationships in a galaxy far far away much differently than I had before, from Galen Erso in Rogue One to Han Solo in Daniel José Older’s Last Shot. Though the latter might not make ideal bedtime reading for a baby, there’s a plethora of junior novels to share with Lori and her storytime will definitely be featuring more Star Wars in years to come.
The six-month mark has been incredible in Lorelei’s development. From finally being able to crawl, breaking a third tooth, saying “dada” and sitting up, it’s amazing to see it all happening in real-time. But there’s no doubt we’re raising a rebel here. She’s already so fierce and independent, entirely her own person. She’ll shriek and scream, groan when she’s tired, but won’t sleep, bounce and kick and make a mess of the living room. She’ll find something she shouldn’t to stick into her mouth and she’ll make sitting down to watch a whole movie basically impossible. But she’ll smile at me like I’m the greatest thing in the world, put her hands in mine to help her stand, or she’ll try and give me one of her slimy kisses. I love this little rebel more than anything and I can’t wait to keep sharing everything Star Wars with her. Here’s to the next six months!