Here’s something that happened.
My second youngest daughter, the quintessential middle child, was turning nine. I, who have never walked by a Star Wars branded product I didn’t stop to examine, came across a pillow case that I thought would be a perfect addition to her bedroom array which includes the following:
One (1) poster from the Whiteside revival showing of Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl;
One (1) giant poster of a kitty from a kids’ magazine that reads “Keep Your Head Up,” though my daughter doesn’t understand why it needs to say that;
One (1) color copy of the cover of a Princess Leia comic, given to her by her dad, depicting the character standing over a dispatched storm trooper with a smoking blaster;
One (1) drawing of Legolas the elf and Gimli the dwarf from The Lord of the Rings, wrought by her second oldest sister;
Twenty-three (23) assorted stuffed kitties–including one (1) tiger–in a pile;
One (1) completed coloring page depicting Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia on Jabba’s sail barge.
Like I said, I thought that this pillow case I found at Target, featuring artwork from the original Star Wars: A New Hope film poster (the one that randomly added a pommel and cross-guard to Darth Vader’s lightsaber, I guess because it didn’t look enough like a sword?), would fit in nicely.
So, when the day came, I put the case on her pillow and left it for her to discover. When we got home that day we made up a pretense for her to enter her room. She came in, saw it immediately, said, “Hmmm,” and went about her business.
Later she sat next to me on the couch while I paged through a National Geographic. She began to cry softly. I have been parenting four daughters long enough to not overreact to this and just snuggled her closer. But I already had a pretty good idea of what was up.
Later I came into her room with her toothbrush and, gesturing to the pillow case, asked, “Do you like it, honey, or is it a little much?”
After a moment she replied, “A little,” and burst into tears.
For goodness’ sake, I said, it’s okay if she doesn’t like it. It doesn’t hurt my feelings!
I emphasized that if she got a gift from some other adult it was best to at least pretend that she liked it, but that she didn’t need to worry about that stuff with me. I appreciate that she likes what she likes. Once she understood that this was true, she felt better.
And really, it doesn’t hurt my feelings. What could be better than knowing that she takes our shared fandom very seriously?