Reflecting the parenting experience in The Mandalorian

© Lucasfilm Ltd

For a species that can reach the ripe old age of 900, it makes sense that their young would take their sweet time reaching maturity. So while Grogu is fifty, everything from his appearance to his behaviours screams toddler. And, having spent the pandemic living with a toddler, I know first-hand that they scream… a lot. 

As a parent, I’m watching The Mandalorian in a different way than I would have done had it started airing even three years ago. Most of the time, relating to characters in Star Wars takes a bit of effort on a viewer’s part, a kind of mental fanfiction, but I see so much of the parenting experience reflected on screen (just minus the blasters, bounty hunters and bloodshed).

The first series affected me in a different way in making its main character, Din Djarin, an unexpected, if not reluctant, father. There’s an instant connection between him and Grogu and, after turning him into to the enigmatic ‘Client’, Din goes to great lengths to get him back. There are easy parallels to draw here for anyone who has had an unplanned child, but in the second season Din truly embraces his role as father. And it’s here where I found myself relating to an otherwise unrelatable character.

In the first season, Grogu is after the little metal ball that’s usually used to top a lever on the erstwhile Razor Crest. At first, sure, Din gives him the ball, but as any parent will tell you, give in once, and it’ll haunt you. So now Grogu just takes it of his own accord. Replace that tiny ball with the TV remote, my iPad, the bookmark from whatever novel I’m reading, and it’s the same thing.

One episode that made me laugh in its utter familiarity was ‘The Siege’. It’s a set up and pay off that begins with a perpetually hungry Grogu using the Force to steal a pack of blue space macarons from a fellow pupil in the school he’s been stowed at for safekeeping. My own daughter, Lorelei, has quite the appetite. If there’s food within easy reach, trust me when I say that she’s going for it – yes, that’s even meant taking from other kids once or twice. Flash forward towards the end of the episode where, after some aerial acrobatics in the Razor Crest, poor Grogu spits up lurid blue puke down himself. Only a few months back, I was driving back from the supermarket and, a couple of miles from home, Lori pukes all over herself. In this case, it was a lurid pink, but you get the idea.

As well as these quiet moments, perhaps the biggest, most relatable part of the parenting experiencing captured in The Mandalorian is that debilitating feeling that something terrible might happen to your child. Here the Imperial remnant hunting Grogu represents kidnapping and could easily be swapped out for any of a hundred other awful things. So when Din is willing to do whatever it takes to keep his foundling son safe, I find myself nodding along knowing that I too would do the same. Because there’s nothing so devastating, so nightmarish, that I can now imagine as losing my daughter.

Aside from lashing out with his Force abilities, we haven’t actually seen Grogu go into full-on tantrum mode. In fact, he hardly makes a peep, speaking in a cute quiet babble. All I can say is, when my daughter is in the throes of a tantrum, I’d happily swap her for Grogu and everything that entails for a few hours. Din doesn’t know how good he’s got it.

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