The Light Saber
Little Katie. Only four years old. But in some ways mature beyond her years. Having a good time playing on the swing set in the backyard. Up and back, up and back, swinging to her heart's content. Imagining she is Princess Leia riding in the Millennium Falcon with Han and Chewy at the controls. She loves Star Wars although her parents hesitated to take her to see it because of her age. She might not have understood everything (but who does?) but she knew the good guys from the bad guys and cheered in all the right places. Princess Leia is her favorite character and she plays at being her often.
Although Katie changes the other characters around quite frequently, she is always Princess Leia. She has a light saber that she used to defeat Darth Vader just yesterday and last night C3PO helped her get rid of the storm troopers in the hall closet.
“Don't you think she is a bit too preoccupied with this movie thing?” This is her mother speaking to her father as she makes supper and he attempts to read the evening paper while seated at the kitchen table. “I'm talking to you, Harry. Don't you think she is too much into the Star Wars universe instead of the real world?”
He looks up, only half having heard what his wife just asked him. But he did catch the words “Star Wars” and that is something that has concerned him recently. The way his little daughter has seemed obsessed with it. Part of him thinks it is a problem, but another part of him thinks it is just the workings of the mind of an intelligent, imaginative child. Right now he'd rather go with the latter as he is not of the mindset to deal with the former.
“She's just playing Dear,” he answers folding his newspaper and putting it on the chair next to him. He has learned that his wife takes better to that action than his just peering at her over the top of the still opened paper.
“Well other children her age play with dolls and stuffed animals, not Jedi Knights, or whatever she calls them.” Both parents have seen the movie with Katie but neither remembers much of it. “Her pre school teacher has requested that we not allow her to bring her weapon, oh what's it called...” She looks up from the bowl she is stirring.
“I believe she calls it a light saber.” He answers from the table.
“Well whatever it is she doesn't want it in school anymore.”
“Did anyone get harmed by this terrible weapon of doom?” he jokes. But his wife is not in a jocular mood.
“She threatens people with it. When someone tells her she is wrong about something or disagrees with her in general she stamps her foot and says 'It is this way because I said so' and backs it up with a threat of bodily harm from her light saber.” Karen is turned to face him now and is wiping her hands on her apron, the casserole safely in the oven.
“But she hasn't hurt anyone, really?”
“No, but the threats....” she pauses “Just the other day the teacher asked her to sit down and she countered with a 'no' followed by a 'because I said so' and pulled out the whatever you call it from under her paint shirt and brandished it at the teacher.
“It's called a light saber according to Katie.”
She sighed a long, deep sigh. “That's not what's important here. It's the fact that she is threatening people with it, even her teacher. This is unacceptable behavior, we have to take it away from her.” she joined him at the table. “'Don't you see this could be part of a bigger problem?”
“Now Karen,” he said calmly, “A four year old girl being a threat to her teacher? Do you hear yourself? This is our little Katie we're talking about here. We'll not let her take the toy to school if you think it best.” He shifted his position and leaned toward his wife. “She actually pulled the same silly stunt on me the other day. She didn't want to get into the car to go to dance class. I asked why and she said 'because I said so' and brandished the light saber. I merely picked her up and spun her around until she was laughing and put her in the car, light saber and all.” He seemed satisfied that what he had just said had ended the discussion and rose to leave the room.
“But Harry, she's being a sort of bully with the other children. We can't let this go on. We should take it away from her at home too to show that we disapprove of her behavior at school.” She took a deep breath and finished in a softer voice “You should have punished her when she tried it with you, too”.
He sat back down and launched into a lengthy explanation about the light saber. It was made of bendable plastic. It was just a toy. When she flicked it a certain way a coiled florescent plastic emerged from inside the hollow handle to make it look like a ray of light was appearing. But that plastic too was soft, bendable, and safe. When he had talked for about five minutes. He reached for Karen's hand.
“But you are right, her use of it to bully and get her own way is wrong. We'll put it on the top shelf of the hall closet for a while until she gets other interests. Let's get her something to replace it. Something else. A substitute to fill her time. Agreed?”
Karen smiled a tired smile and squeezed his hand. “Agreed.”
It was decided that after supper they would pay a visit to Grandma and Grandpa. They kept chickens and goats and Katie loved to play around them. She would love to stay there for a bit and that would afford Harry and Karen the time they needed to stash the light saber and shop for a replacement toy.
Katie didn't put up a fuss when they told her she had to leave her cherished light saber at home while visiting her grandparents. She feared it would scare the animals. They brought dessert, a fresh apple pie, which they ate together at Grandma's table along with some ice cream from her freezer. When Karen told Katie she was to stay at her grandparent's for a while she merely smiled and ran out to be with the animals.
The search for a suitable replacement toy was not as easy a task as they had imagined. Dolls weren't her thing so a doll was out, and they couldn't decide which stuffed animal looked innocent enough to not cause Katie's Star Wars obsession to bloom afresh.
They finally decided on a copy of a children's movie about fairies and elves. It came with figurines from the movie. They would give them to her after the movie and hope she would start pretending with them.
The next day was Saturday so they picked her up rather late and put her straight to bed once home. They tiptoed from her room and left the door ajar. She had never once asked for her light saber or mentioned anything from the movie that spawned it. Karen and Harry had a cup of tea together and talked of how well they thought their plan was going to work. If she started acting the way she had been who knows what behaviors she would exhibit in the coming years. She was a force to be reckoned with at age four, and they weren't anxious to see what the next few years would bring. It was all for the best.
The next morning Katie awakened bright and early despite her late night the evening before. They had breakfast as a family and then Harry brought out the new DVD. Katie seemed slightly interested but before the movie started she asked for her light saber. Harry explained that she wouldn't have it for a while because of what had happened with her teacher at school. She wanted it and she wanted it now.
“But why, Katie? You have a new movie to watch right now and it sounds really good.” Karen tried.
“Because I said so!” countered the child. But she had no light saber to wave in Karen's face and so she ran crying from the room, the light saber still buried beneath a pile of heavy blankets at the top of the hall closet.
They decided to let her cry it out for now and see what the next few hours would bring. They could hear her sobbing in her room. Deep, mournful sobs, that would have melted the heart of a man of steel.
But Karen and Harry were stronger than steel. They were parents. And if this was necessary to break their daughter of her obsession with a toy weapon, then let it happen.
The crying stopped after about ten minutes and then complete silence. Assuming she had fallen asleep they waited a bit then tiptoed to her room. She lay curled on top of the blankets with a look of contentment on her face. And then they noticed what she was holding. Clutched to her body was the plastic light saber
“How did she know where it was?”
“When did she get it?”
“How did she get it?”
These and other similar questions resonated in their minds as they stood in the doorway dumfounded. It was impossible and yet they were seeing it with their own eyes. Harry thought to check the hall closet thinking perhaps what his daughter held was a replica of the first. But, no, the blankets were pushed aside and there, where the light saber had been, was nothing. He looked around for something that she could have used to climb on, but again there was nothing. They would have heard her moving furniture, wouldn't they? Karen joined him and they both stood together one more confused than thee other. It was obvious that they couldn't keep it from her, but then an idea struck Karen.
Why didn't they let her carry it at home and at the same time try to get her interested in something else. A substitute that would eventually take the place of the beloved light saber in her affections.
They started the minute she awoke and stumbled out of the bedroom clutching the accursed sword.
“I'm ready to see my new movie now” she yawned as she took a seat on the sofa still hanging on to the plastic toy.
Her parents, overjoyed at her interest in the new DVD quickly put it on and sat next to her. One on either side as if some how they were protecting her, but from what they did not know. They watched the fairies and elves solve the problem of some mean teenagers who had discovered their village in the woods. All was happy in the ending and Katie even applauded. Acting like a normal four year old when suddenly...
“I could have taken care of them with my light saber.” she mused holding it even closer. “It's not bad, it's good. Someday maybe I can show you” she added leaving the couch and heading for her room.
“Katie, wait!” It was Harry who spoke. “How did you...”
“Get it back from the closet?” She smiled, “It came because I said so”
Karen and Harry spent a sleepless night mulling over the events of the day, and the strange proclamation by their daughter.
Katie, however, was well rested, and demanded she be allowed to take the saber with her to church.
“Church is no place for toys,” her mother admonished. “Why do you want to take it there?”
Her answer was brief and chilling. “Because I said so.”
Hardly anyone in church noticed a sweet little four year old carrying a plastic toy. So many her age brought something and she didn't play with it at all. Katie seemed to be a good child to the congregation and to the minister who complimented her on her good behavior all through the service afterwards on the church steps.
All was well until another problem was remembered. Her cousins and aunt and uncle were visiting this afternoon. Karen and Harry prayed that everything would go smoothly. It seemed to be as the children played in the backyard and the adults sat on the porch talking. Karen couldn't help but notice that the plastic saber was sitting on the ground under a tree. She breathed a sign of relief. Suddenly, as if from out of nowhere two men in coveralls came around the side of the house and went to the porch. Then one of them pulled a gun.
“Don't move and don't say a word and everything will be alright. Just act normally.” Harry wondered what normal would look like in such a situation. Katie, however, knew what to do. She squinted as if in deep thought and the toy light saber flew through the air and into her hand. She shook it a bit and from the end of the plastic handle came a light. It got longer and longer until it was about three feet in length.
Katie ran over to the man with the gun who mumbled to the other man.
“Take care of the kids, will ya.”
But before another word could be spoken, the now blinding light was brought down upon the gun which split in two and fell to the ground. The robber was surprised but still reached for Katie. The
light was now cutting through the man's pants at the knees. Through the tears blood spurted and the man slumped to the ground. Before he could react the second man suffered the same fate.
The children started yelling and clapping, but the adults sat on the porch with their mouths hanging open. Katie took the light saber, which was now back to it's original shape and walked on the porch and gave it to her father.
“Here” she said you can take care of it till I'm older. It's not a child's toy.” While the adults were still in shock the children welcomed Katie back into the game.
“See,” she said as the group encircled her, “When you're an adult, it's sometimes hard to understand the Force.”