Emil has fully embodied Darth Vader. And assuming this is a passing phase, much like the days of the red pajamas Emil wore nearly every day for a year straight when he was two, I wanted to record this fleeting childhood moment for us all to look back on.
Every morning, Emil wakes up dressed in his Darth Vader pajamas (and recently, black winter gloves which he wears all night so he can awaken to a more genuine embodiment of his hero), and shoves two socked feet into hand-me-down black cowboy boots held together with black electrical tape. He then fastens his black “E for Emil” cape, and puts on his Darth Vader mask. Last, he picks up his lightsaber and is ready to exit his room for the day. It is only then that he feels prepared to use the restroom.
Emil has expressed to us on more than one occasion that he wants to be Darth Vader. That his name is not Emil Thelonious Knight, but Emil Darth Vader Knight (equally weird, I know). Recently, on the way to school, Emil stated, “I will not be taking baths anymore. Darth Vader doesn’t take a bath, he just wears his clothes all the time,” to which I replied, “Oh, but he does! He takes baths with extra bubbles! He just likes to take his baths in private.” Milo and Oliver tried to convince Emil, but he was skeptical, probably trying to picture the dark, masked, mysterious man climbing into a clean white tub filled to the brim with sweet-smelling frilly bubbles, his cape spreading like ink across the top of the water.
When I picked him up from school earlier this week, he proudly showed me his darkening and swollen black eye, which he had collected at the playground after falling onto a stump in a play of misfortune. I hugged and comforted him, a look of concern on my face, but he smiled back at me and said, “I LOVE my black eye! I want another one, because now I look like Darth Vader!” His favorite colors, of course, those of a bruise.
Everything he does is done only after considering if Darth Vader would do that thing; would Darth Vader eat candy? Only if it was a dark colored tootsie pop, or maybe dark chocolate. A popsicle? Only red, like a lightsaber. Would Darth Vader draw a picture? Only using the black marker. Maybe also the red. Does Darth Vader poop? No. (Unfortunately, there’s no getting around that last one).
Emil eats, breathes, and lives Darth Vader. We picked up a Star Wars book from the library, and the only page Emil is interested in reading is the one with his favorite guy. He will bring you this book, but you must not begin reading the page until Emil is completely dressed as Darth Vader. Once you are finished, so is he, and life can go on.
The way Emil is convinced of getting dressed for school every morning is through a gentle reminder that his Darth Vader pajamas, cape, boots, gloves, mask, and lightsaber will be safely awaiting his return from school. It goes without saying that Emil will discuss his impending costume change on the drive home from school, just for reassurance. “We will go right home today? And I will change into my Darth Vader jammies.” Yes, buddy, you can change as soon as we get home.
If you hear, “You have failed me for the last time,” don’t take it personally. It’s just my four-year-old son Emil, being everything he has ever dreamed of being.