May the Fourth Be with You!
By Olympia Andrade Beltrán
My husband and I are sci-fi nerds. There. I said it. We share a deep love for Star Wars that started in our youth. I was only a year old when Star Wars came out, and four years old when Empire Strikes Back was released… but I remember Return of the Jedi as the most mesmerizing, fantastic movie experience in all of my short 7 years on this planet.
What was it about those characters that captivated my imagination so? I loved the idea of heroes fighting together to bring peace. “Balance to the Force” was something so organic, and resonated with the indigenous wisdom imparted by parents in my Chicano home. Ollin is the Aztec word for duality, harmony, balance. A familiar idea.
Then there was Leia, so beautiful and so strong. She was calm, logical, and collected when the men she loved were rash and impulsive. She fought side by side with her partner Han: an equal in love and in battle. I wanted to emulate this woman, so 7 year old me and her long flowing hair would have mama put that tangle up in Hoth Braids and I would explore my yard creating ewok armies of mud and sticks, waiting to ambush Imperial troops.
It would be 34 years from that moment on my imaginary Endor before I met my own nerfherder, my husband Brent. The same themes that attracted us to Star Wars in our youth continued to fuel our community activism into our adult hood. Fighting for social justice and equality… balance to our “Force” if you will. We fell in love, and worked together on community projects to bring about change. And then came the youngling.
I chose to give up my participation in community affairs to dedicate my time to our son, Dino. A mother of three teenagers from a previous relationship, I am well aware of how precious a child’s first 5 years are with respect to physical, emotional and social development. I decided that the best way I could contribute to social change at this moment was to invest my time and effort into nurturing this tiny human who may someday join the ranks with us in bringing about a more balanced society.
We would raise our little Jedi to think beyond gender stereotypes. We would use imagination and creativity to teach him that whatever he can visualize, he can actualize. We would encourage compassion, empathy, communication and cooperation. And thus began our endeavor to raise a Jedi in the Modern Age.
Dino is now almost 4 years old, with a love for Star Wars all his own. One exercise in Dino’s Jedi training consisted of building a spaceship from a cardboard box with his 17-year-old brother Tai.
The skills developed in this activity were cooperation, communication, color recognition, and the development of fine motor skills. They used a cardboard box, leftover birthday plates, straws, cups and masking tape. They even cut the tops off of recyclable 2-liter sodas bottles to create “booster jets”.
Although he met a few obstacles (scissors are still a struggle), Dino was successful in communicating his frustrations through words and not tears. He is learning that Master Windu’s lightsaber color has a name, and that name is ‘purple’ in English, and ‘morado’ in Spanish. He learned to take turns with his brother, not an easy feat for an impatient toddler waiting to pilot his first aircraft.
He also learned the responsibility of clean up, and that the ultimate reward for a job well done was his feeling of accomplishment as he takes his buddy Chewbacca out for rides across the galaxy.
It is such a joy to share our love of the Star Wars universe with our little one, and fulfilling to know that life lessons can be easy and exciting with a little imagination and galactic inspiration. To all my fellow geek parents out there, May The Fourth be with you!
Olympia Andrade Beltrán is the mother of four children and the wife of SDFP editor/columnist, and nerfherder, Brent E. Beltrán. She monitors heart rhythms, helps grow community gardens and dances to the ceremonial beat of Aztec drums, among many other things. She fights the Galactic Empire on the daily hoping to create a better Universe for all.