Growing up in the 80s and 90s I had the privilege to have “Star Wars” be part of my childhood. Those three movies are still my all-time favorites. My parents were kind enough to get me mostly every action figure that came out from the three films in the original trilogy. I had a few ships and playsets too. Heck, I still have the Darth Vader and C-3PO cases filled with Luke, Vader, Han, Chewie and so on.
One of the figures I cherished the most was the Emperor Palpatine figure. He was special because you couldn’t get him in any store. No sir! You had to send a few UPC labels from other characters in the mail in order to receive the Dark Lord of the Sith.
I found out about this offer as “The Return of the Jedi” figures hit the store shelves. There was instructions on the back of each action figure’s box on how to get the Emperor. With help from my parents I sent the envelope away and couldn’t wait to get him in the mail.
My parents probably told me that it will be a while before I would get him. They told me the instructions on the box said to allow the standard 4-6 weeks for delivery. Sure, sure whatever. I was filled with so much anticipation that I wasn’t paying attention to them.
I just wanted that figure. So a few days (not weeks) passed and nothing. I would walk with my mom to the mailbox hoping that this was the day I would get him. The walk to the mailbox seemed quick. The walk back to the house with no Palpatine seemed like an eternity.
It was annoying! Where could he be? (Said just like Luke Skywalker looking for Threepio in “A New Hope.”) How can Darth Vader and the Empire know what to do without their leader? I am sure what was more annoying was my constant harassment I gave my parents about the location of Palpatine. They tried to reassure me that he would be in the mail soon.
As each day passed and as weeks went by I had my good days and I had my bad days. Each day had the promise of his arrival. Each night had the disappointment of a no show.
Then one magical day it happened. Emperor Palpatine arrived. Granted it wasn’t in the Lambda-class T-4a shuttle, but he was here. I opened the carton as fast as I could. Finally the Empire was complete with the addition of the Emperor. Vader now had his master and they could prepare an assault on the Rebel scum.
I treasured that figure because I waited for what seemed like forever, but now he had his own space in my Darth Vader collector case. I made sure that he was always with me when I was done playing the action figures. I treated the rest of the figures with more respect too.
As a kid I didn’t fully realize what waiting for that figure taught me. Now as a parent I can use that life lesson I learned a long, long time ago with my kids today. In an age where you can download a movie, song, or app in seconds who needs patience?
Yes, I do use that technology to my advantage when we are traveling a great distance or if we are waiting to get work done on our car at the shop. I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t admit that. Still I want my kids to know the virtue of patience. (A virtue I am still trying to learn myself.) They might not get the message right away, but as they grow older they will realize that not everything comes to them at the drop of a hat.
They might ask me to download an app or if they can do an activity right away. Sometimes I say yes. Other times I say not today. So I will continue to pass on what I have learned from Emperor Palpatine to my children.
That doesn’t make me a Sith, does it?