Darth Vader


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.

11 thoughts on “Darth Vader”
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  1. You could add a Darth Vader mask to yesterday’s outfit and be Darth Vader’s mama.

    My neice loved dressing up as Darth Vader when she was four, too, but did not take it quite as seriously as Emil.

  2. Too good, too good.

    The wood stump statue is the best photo.

    I made a delicious acorn squash curry dish the other day with black rice – it was the coolest rice ever. The water turned this inky purple, almost black. Sounds like EDVK would dig it.

  3. My five year old is also DV obsessed. He is desperate to watch the new Star Wars film in December but I’m not sure whether it will be suitable or not. He has watched edited versions of the original three. I have to say the Star Wars obsession began long before he had seen the films thanks to Lego. On a different note I woke up this morning to see Oliver’s face looking back at me on my Facebook news feed. I’m in the UK and a friend had posted a link to your Washington Post article on strong willed children. I recognised Oliver immediately. Love your blog. It really was a reminder of how small the world is in the grand scheme of things.

  4. Laura, so interesting! I think for Emil it’s about being the youngest and wanting to feel powerful and mysterious. As for the article, that’s fantastic! So glad it reached you in the UK!

  5. Grea article and helpful for me to read. My son is just over 3 and is starting to learn about all the superheroes and similar characters out there. He loves playing with them, acting their characters out and things like that.

    I read your article on obedience as well. My son is strong-willed as well and is testing out the boundaries of his pre-school teachers. I enjoyed the advice from the 11 tips for parenting strong-willed kids. One thing I’m struggling with is the perception from some of the teachers that his boundary pushing is a “behaviour” problem. He’s not doing anything harmful to himself or others, not is he engaging in immoral behaviour. (saying that in the context of a 3-year-old even sounds absurd)

    These are my challenges.
    -Is it a problem? the preschool seems to think we might want to consult the “behaviour” specialist
    -He’s 3! and, of course, he’s going to push the boundaries a little bit. He’s exploring the world, and I’m glad he’s not totally obedient.
    -Should I look for a different classroom environment? I.e., Montessori, or other types of programming.
    He’s in a typical community day-care, that has a good reputation. We also like his teachers generally, but the mode of operation seems a little basic and “simple.”

    Above all i know remaining centred in my own body and mind is most important. It’s amazing what a little turmoil in our kids life can do to us!

    I appreciate your great writing and look forward to continuing to learn from you.

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