It took me awhile to embrace my boys’ “Star Wars” craze. In fact, I don’t remember how the whole thing started. This is probably because I was busy sewing Batman and Flash costumes, their pre-“Star Wars” obsession. In my mental absence, did Dustin introduce “Star Wars” to the boys? Did they find one of his old posters? Or did they see Darth Vader on a McDonald’s paper cup? I don’t know. By the time we moved to Maine, however, we had an enviable collection of lightsabers, and Owen was growing out his hair to look more like “Anakin Skywalker in the first [episode].”

It was an even longer period of time before I allowed the boys to see the “Star Wars” movies. Our then-new neighbor Tony lent the boys his copy of Episode 1, and because of this, today my boys revere Tony in a way that suggests they believe he is Santa Claus off-duty. Two years later, we still have Tony’s copy of Episode 1. The boys use it as ransom against him: “Tony, do you have any root beer at your house? If you let me have some, I’ll release your movie.” Tony, being the “Star Wars” lover that he is, graciously plays along. “Do I hear screaming in the background, Owen? What is Lindell doing to my movie? Look, I’ll get you your root beer. Just give me another two weeks.”

For a while there, our lives revolved around “Star Wars.” The boys could turn anything — a spatula, a toothbrush, a noodle used for swimming — into a lightsaber. I downloaded the lightsaber app on my iPhone, and all five of us went down to Boston to hear the Boston Pops perform “Star Wars in Concert.” After I finally gave in and watched the movies, I came to know and love the characters as well. I was part of the inside jokes between Dustin and the boys. I could use Admiral Ackbar’s line, “It’s a trap,” at the most opportune time and make my children laugh. I ordered myself a hand-knit cap with Princess Leia buns on it.

And then, at Halloween, I crossed the line. I bought a talking, life-size Darth Vader and placed him in our basement. He stands at the foot of the stairs, with one arm partially raised, as if he is greeting guests.

“You are not a Jedi yet,” he says when I pass by with a load of laundry.

I just laugh. “Oh, Vader!” I would pat him on the shoulder, but then he’d fall over.

Whenever we had guests, I encouraged — OK, forced — them into the basement to “see who we have living down there.” Not surprising, people were mostly relieved to find only a cardboard Darth Vader, even though he did say, “Release your anger; only your hatred can destroy me now!”

Looking back, maybe this is when the kids’ interest in “Star Wars” waned. The same thing happened when I started wearing Vans in fourth grade and my older brothers abruptly moved on to flip-flops. “Star Wars” just isn’t the same when there are photos of your mother singing the Supremes’ “Someday We’ll Be Together” to a fake Darth Vader in the basement.

So the boys have transitioned to Harry Potter, and just like before, I didn’t see it coming. Lightsabers have been replaced with wands. Voice changers have made way for little round eyeglasses. And instead of hearing “use the force” 4,000 times a day, I’m surrounded by spells such as “expecto patronum.”

Sure, the boys will always love “Star Wars.” I mean, they haven’t gone so far as to give back Tony’s movie yet. And occasionally they pick up the remote control for the television and spin it like a lightsaber. But the crates full of “Star Wars” action figures under their beds are untouched and collecting dust, and I can’t remember the last time Owen pretended that his Big Wheel is a pod racer. In fact, Ford sold his Big Wheel at a garage sale. I am the only one who says hello to Vader in the basement.

Last week, the boys were playing Harry Potter in the basement, and one of them must have run past Vader because his deep voice rose from the floor vents in the kitchen, and it was like hearing an old friend when he told them, “Join me, it’s the only way.”

“You tell ’em, Vader.”

It is the end of another era. While I know there will be many more transitions ahead, this one feels especially bittersweet. I am happy to have been able to share in my boys’ love of “Star Wars,” to take them to the concert and, yes, to dress up with them at Halloween. In this way, “Star Wars” will always have special meaning for me.

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