When the boys asked what I wanted for my birthday last week, I decided to make it less painful for them. “Just take me to the Star Wars concert performed the Portland Symphony Orchestra,” I said, “and (wink, wink) that will be a great birthday.”
I would, of course, be the one who paid (and drove and ordered the tickets), but the boys like Star Wars, so everyone would be happy. That’s what moms do for their birthdays: they make everyone else happy.
We arrived at the auditorium early and just in time to see a couple of Stormtroopers and Darth Vader posing for pictures on the sidewalk.
“Oh my gosh,” I screamed. “Look! It’s Darth! Let’s get our pictures taken.”
“How about I take one of you with Darth Vader, Mom,” Ford said, reaching for my phone.
“Oh? Are you sure?” I said. “I can take one of you with him next.”
“No, it’s fine,” he said. Then he motioned with his hand for me to get closer to Darth.
Inside the auditorium, hundreds of children, most of them 5, 6, and 7 years old, waved lightsabers and glow sticks as they waited for the music to begin. I thought about George Lucas’s cleverness: for a film that is as old as me, it still manages to induct devotees with each new generation. And there was a man in his 20s in front of us dressed as a Stormtrooper, so clearly the devotion stays strong with age.
I made a mental note about not wanting the boys to dress as Stormtroopers when they are 20. Then I clapped my hands and looked at Ford.
“Isn’t this exciting? Just like old times, right?” (We saw “Star Wars Live performed” by the Boston Pops in 2010.)
Just then, the lights dimmed and the audience grew quiet. The conductor, dressed in a Jedi robe, raised his arms, and the violinists drew their bows. When the first notes of the Star Wars theme song came, I started to cry.
“Mom?” Ford said. “Ummmm…”
Lindell fidgeted in his seat and asked me to open his glow stick. In front of me, little boys stood in their seats and leaned on their mom’s shoulders as they bounced up and down with the music.
“Isn’t this great?” I said, grabbing Ford’s hand. Tears were spilling down my cheeks now.
“Sure, Mom,” he said.
An hour later, the show was over, and I wanted to find the face painters we saw earlier. A Death Star tattoo on someone’s — Ford’s? Owen’s? — left cheek was all that was left to complete this birthday. (“What do you mean no one wants their face painted?”)
All in all, it was a great day that was supposed to be about me, but which I had managed to actually make about them. I patted myself on my back.
From Lindell, 6: “Once me and my family went to a Star Wars concert where there were songs and actors. Also we got glow sticks. I think it was fun.”
From Owen, 10: “We trudged up several flights of stairs, excited for the music. When we finally reached the top, a lady said to me, ‘Do you want a glow stick little boy?’ I said as politely as I could that I didn’t want one. She handed me the concert program instead. I decided it was best to just take it.
“After those long, tiring speeches they give you before a concert, the music started. They had Stormtroopers and rebels on stage acting out scenes from the movie. But they got some of the facts wrong. For instance, they made Yoda say one of Obi-Wan’s most famous quotes! I sat back and laughed. ‘Do they think we’re 2?’”
From Ford, almost 13:
“Star Wars used to be my favorite. But that was a long time ago. Now it’s different. I don’t care who shot first, or what Darth Vader’s motives were. So when I learned Mom wanted to see a Star Wars concert, I was a little skeptical. It had been a long time since I really had any interest in Star Wars. I didn’t understand who this trip was for. Then I realized: it was for Mom. She wanted to relive that part of our lives.
“As I listened to the music, all I could hear were the memories of Owen and me playing lightsabers and talking about when we were going to see ‘Revenge of the Sith.’ Although Mom apparently still misses those times, and maybe Owen does too, I don’t.
“Halloween is approaching, and I can remember many times complaining about my Boba Fett costume being too cold, and Owen complaining his was too stuffy. But that’s the past, and I am a different kid now.”
Maine author and columnist Sarah Smiley’s writing is syndicated weekly to publications across the country. She and her husband, Dustin, live with their three sons in Bangor. She may be reached at www.Facebook.com/Sarah.is.Smiley.