“I want to be called Rey now please Mama,” she says to me, hands on her hips and her little head held high. “I will only answer you if you call me Rey.”
My daughter Malorie is only 5 years old, but she’s already been so many different things. She’s been a mermaid collecting shells from the bottom of the ocean to build homes for the sea creatures, a superhero saving her toys from terrible fates, and for half of the last school year she requested everyone call her Malorie Starr Pretty, something even the teachers and kids went along with. A request like this is nothing out of the ordinary.
I agree. “Sure, Rey. I can do that.”
She beams at me and turns, heading off to play in the yard. As she runs, the bottoms to her Rey costume fall down to her thighs, then land around her ankles, and she hoists them up before jogging back to me. “I’m too small for this costume!” she says with an eye roll and a grin.
“No,” I correct her gently. “This costume is too big. You’re fine how you are.”
I bunch up the waistband of the trousers and tie it up with an elastic I pull from my hair, and with a “thank you” she bounds away again, off to save the universe.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens had been in cinemas for awhile before I’d finally given in to Malorie’s constant requests to see it. I’d wondered if she’d be able to sit still the whole time and if she was mature enough for the content. I thought of all the negative things the know-it-alls on the Internet would say about me if they disagreed with my decision to take her. After mentally rebutting all the hypothetical protests, I remembered that who I should really be basing my decision on was my daughter — my kind, sweet daughter, who loves girls and superhero movies, who already felt a strong connection with Rey, who was visibly upset when I’d seen the movie without her, and who had been asking me every day for two weeks if I could please take her. I used my own judgment (instead of the fear of the judgment of others) and took her in the last week of the school holidays.
Dressed in her Rey costume and armed with her BB-8-shaped drink bottle, she happily skipped with me into the complex. “I’m one hundred excited, Mama. No … ” she paused dramatically and smiled up at me. “I am actually one thousand excited!”
Though I expected her to like the film, I wasn’t prepared for how much. From the opening sequence she was hooked, her eyes like saucers, her bottom on the edge of her booster seat. “Rey!” she’d squeaked when the scavenger had made her first appearance. “That’s Rey, I just know it. I love Rey.”
I had been full of giddy excitement the first time I’d seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens, thinking only of myself and how much I loved it, but with my daughter by my side, I was watching the film with my parent eyes. Just as I’d started to doubt myself and my decision to take her to a “grown-up movie,” something happened that pulled me right out of my own head. Malorie scooted closer to me, laid her head on my shoulder and whispered, “I love you, Mama. Thank you for bringing me here. This movie is brilliant.”
I knew I’d made the right decision for us.
As we left the cinema, she was babbling excitedly. “And then when Rey told the Stormtrooper to unlock her and leave the door open and leave his weapon and he just did it, that was my favorite part,” she said as she twirled around the foyer. “And the girl pilot. And the girl leader. And all the girls! I love girls so much!”
“Me too,” I’d smiled as I guided her spinning body out of the path of our fellow moviegoers.
It’s been over a week now since our movie date, and as I sit writing this in my living room, I can hear Malorie and her younger sister Elsa playing happily. Malorie is declaring that she is Rey and that Elsa needn’t worry because Rey will save her, that Rey can do anything. And I’m thankful for a movie like Star Wars: The Force Awakens for giving kids a film in which it is never a question as to whether or not a girl can do something. For giving them a film where girls just do things, and they are never praised for being strong for a girl, or brave for a girl, or anything else for a girl. They’re just strong. They’re just brave. They’re girls, and girls can do anything.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is available on Disney Movies Anywhere, Digital HD and Blu-Ray today.More On