Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The Dark Side

It is well past her bedtime and the Impster has been crafting a spaceship out of two chairs, a table, a frying pan, her tricycle and a load of cushions. We have friends over which is making her somewhat excitable. ‘It’s still not working,’ she says. ‘We need more cushions!’

‘Ah, a typical woman’s solution,’ says our friend H (who is typically male in many ways, and not least in his antipathy towards soft furnishings).

‘Han, Han,’ continues the Impster, tugging at my trousers, ‘Get in, it’s time to go.’

At the moment our family exists in a parallel universe where she is Princess Leia, K is ‘my brother Luke’, I am Han Solo, and the Boo is rather unfortunately characterised as ‘Chewie’ (aka Chewbacca), perhaps on account of his nascent speech abilities. You have to keep up with these personas at all times. For example, ‘where is my brother?’ counter intuitively translates as ‘where is daddy?’ and it can all get a bit confusing. Especially if it’s the middle of the night.

Anyway, you might imagine my discomfort yesterday when she kissed me passionately on the lips, looked intensely into my eyes and whispered ‘I love you’.

‘Good grief,’ said I (with more than a hint of alarm), ‘where did you get that from?’ For I always make a point of trying to track down the primary source of any ‘highly original’ behaviour. 'The Empire Strikes Back,' came her unhesitating reply.

Now tell me if I’m overreacting, but this occurred on the same day as the Boo requested a ‘Jabba the Hut pictch [picture]’ to colour in. He is 19 months, has only just learned to talk and yet within his limited lexicon the following expressions are crystal clear: ‘Em-piire Strike Back’, ‘Yoda’, ‘Prince Leia’ and now Jabba the bloody Hut.

And worse still, every day when I pick him up from nursery now, he runs towards me, arms outstretched, beaming from ear to ear shouting ‘’tar War DD’ [DVD]. Goodness knows what the professional carers are thinking but I imagine it runs along the lines of ‘as soon as she gets that dear little boy home she must just sit him straight in front of the television.’

Well this is a cautionary parenting tale. For our shift to the dark side occurred not as a result of us parking the children in front of age-inappropriate feature-length films, but while sitting down on the floor playing with them. While I was swimming with the Boo, K was at home constructing a Lego Star Wars Snowspeeder with the Impster. And then (strictly for contextual purposes you understand) he showed her the Battle of Hoth scene from The Empire Strikes Back, which, like some supernova explosion, has obliterated life as we know it. Never having watched Star Wars myself, I am now an outcast, an alien in my own house.

Mothers, I implore you, beware your husbands spending quality time with your children. Find a fence that needs repainting, or a shelf that needs erecting, but do not let them prejudice vulnerable minds. Before you know it you will find yourself beset daily by requests to make a Death Star out of a dozen left-over Lego bricks and to recreate a Princess Leia hairstyle from a few curly locks. Inability to perform these miracles will only lead to tantrums which will only be calmed by recourse to half an hour’s viewing of Return of the Jedi.

Right now, here I sit at the computer, poised to make the best of the situation by the ultimate comfort act of ordering more cushions.