“Don’t make me pull this car over.” – Every Parent
“If I have told you once, I have told you a hundred times…What don’t you understand about the word NO…You are just like your father…What were you thinking…” If you have ever issued one of these statements (or statements like these), then this column is for you. How many times have these or similar statements been spoken by parents throughout the centuries? While there are times that can be trying, and days that can be frustrating, this journey of parenthood is one (on most days) we would never trade.
One of the things that was neat about the prequel trilogy was to see how the Jedi at their peak did things. We got to see them at the height of their power and ability. We saw the beauty of their majestic temple, and the way their lives were ordered. We saw the training and lifestyles they lived each and everyday.
One of my favorite scenes comes in Episode 2. From the beginning of the movie, you can see some of the tension that exists between Obi-wan and Anakin. A young teenage man just itching to be free of the constraints his master puts on him. While obedient, he challenges. While submissive, he argues for his perspective. Obi-wan is the “old fart” who is out of touch and doesn’t quite understand. Anakin knows he loves him and cares for him, but sometimes feels he just does not get him (Any of this sound familiar to your house or childhood?).
As the story plays out, Anakin takes some “unusual” risks and has a little “unorthodox” style in how he handles some situations, which becomes a source of a frustration to Obi-wan. He and Anakin have been over this a hundred times in training. He has gone over and over these lessons, and Anakin just keeps rushing in, he continues to display impatience, and many times is just simply reckless.
As our two heroes engage in a speeder chase through the airways of Coruscant, Anakin takes a reckless course through a power coupling, and out of concern and frustration, Obi-wan utters, “How many times have I told you…” (ever used a phrase like this). In the chase, Anakin takes a “short cut” and manages to lose the assassin. You can almost hear the “what were you thinking” in Obi-wan’s tone as he chastises Anakin for yet another mistake. Anakin then leaps from the speeder, and catches up (literally) with the criminal they were pursuing.
While fighting to bring the speeder down, Anakin manages to lose his lightsaber (which of course, Obi-wan catches). As Anakin and the assassin’s speeder crash, Obi-wan quietly and calmly lands his. With the criminal on the move, Anakin jumps up in pursuit, and meets a calm and somewhat frustrated Obi-wan at the door.
As he hands the lightsaber back to Anakin, you can almost hear the “If I have told you once, I have told you a hundred times” speech coming. As he reminds Anakin AGAIN about the lessons he has learned, he hands the lightsaber back to him and utters that wonderful line, “Why do I get the feeling you’re going to be the death of me.”
While this line foreshadows what will happen later in the saga, it rings true with so many parents, because most of us at one time or another have thought or said this very same thing about or to our children. Through frustrating events, or just having to tell them the same things over and over again, we wonder if they or we will make it to them becoming adults. As the exchange continues, Anakin shares that Obi-wan is the closest thing he has to a father, and Obi-wan responds with, “Then why don’t you listen to me.”
I think conversations like these are ones that every parent, in every home around the world has had. So many days as parents we feel like we are simply a broken record, repeating the same lessons, same instructions, and same corrections over and over and over again, to little people who never seem to hear, understand, or have memory beyond a minute and a half. While Obi-wan was not Anakin’s “father”, in reality, that is how he functioned. He was the only father Anakin had ever known.
Their relationship and interactions mirrored so many parental experiences and show us some things as parents we can take away in our own journey with our children. I am sure that Obi-wan saw much of his young self in Anakin. He saw the things that needed to be tempered and molded. He knew the mistakes and the consequences of the choices that Anakin was making. He had seen enough Jedi not learn these things and one way or another be brought to ruin.
Some of the frustration he felt, and we as parents sometimes feel, came from Anakin’s struggle to learn from his and others’ experiences. We as parents sometimes do not understand how they cannot learn after the first time and why they have to be told over and over again. We forget sometimes that we are the same (just ask me how many speeding tickets I have gotten in my life).
We sometimes forget that at all ages, there are things we need to be reminded of. Kids attention spans are sometimes nanoseconds, and they will need many reminders. As parents, we need to be there to keep giving them that reinforcement, just as Obi-wan was..
As parents, we also see many things in our kids that are present in our own life. We see mistakes we have made and things that needed correction, and often those are the things we hit the hardest. The things that frustrate us about ourselves, are the things that often seem most evident in our children. When presented with this, it can also be a time for not just our children to learn, but for us as well. As we are guiding our children, sometimes we need to guide ourselves in these areas as well.
The nice thing about this relationship between Anakin and Obi-wan is that while there were days and events that were frustrating, Obi-wan always looked for the good in his padawan. He always took time to acknowledge his successes, and to share with him how proud he was. In this, we see a final lesson from this pair – take time to notice the good.
It is easy to harp on all the things they do wrong, and notice all the issues they have and mistakes they make, but our children are more that just a collection of errors. In each one is talent, ability, caring, and a wonderful promise for the future. Our children need to feel our love and know how proud we are of them, just as Obi-wan tried to share with Anakin, and just as he continued to care for and love Anakin, no matter what.
So the next time your children are frustrating, and you think they will be the death of you, and you are telling them something for the hundredth time, remember Obi-wan and Anakin. Remember your children are probably more like you than you would like to admit, they will need many reminders throughout life, and while instructing them “once again”, take time to remember the good in them. Just as quickly as you correct, tell them you love them and are proud of them. While you think your children will be the death of you, remember, your parents probably thought the same thing too – from time to time.
Lessons From A Galaxy Far, Far Away is a regular column written by Charles Mickles for TheForce.Net for those who grew up on Star Wars, and now are sharing that experience with a younger generation.Star Wars offers many wonderful life lessons, and I hope these will help us better reach and impact those little ones that we each know and love as they take those first steps into that galaxy far, far away.