Katie Goldman's universe extends from her home to her first-grade classroom. She is a big sister to Annie Rose and Cleo, a piano player, a Spanish student, a wearer of glasses. She loathes the patch she has to wear for one lazy eye. She loves magic and princesses and "Star Wars," an obsession she picked up from her dad.It gets even better from there, so go read the whole thing!
The 7-year-old carried a "Star Wars" water bottle to school in Evanston, Illinois, every day, at least until a few weeks ago, when Katie suddenly asked to take an old pink one instead. The request surprised Katie's mom, Carrie Goldman. It didn't make any sense. Why would her little sci-fi fan make such a quick turn?
Goldman kept pressing for an answer. She wasn't expecting Katie's tears.
Kids at school insisted that "Star Wars" was only for boys, her daughter wailed. She was different enough already -- the only one who was adopted, who's Jewish, who wears glasses, who needs a patch. If sacrificing Yoda for the color pink would make her fit in again, so be it.
Goldman's heart sank.
These weren't nameless, faceless bullies who taunted her daughter. They were good kids Katie ran around with on the playground. They were getting older, though, and starting to see what made people the same -- and different.
Now, it was about "Star Wars," but Goldman wondered what lunchroom teasing would progress to in middle school, high school or college.
"Is this how it starts?" Goldman wrote in her blog, Portrait of an Adoption. "Do kids find someone who does something differently and start to beat it out of her, first with words and sneers? Must my daughter conform to be accepted?"
A few days later, in Orlando, Jen Yates clicked on a link that led to Goldman's blog. Yates couldn't shake Katie's image when it flashed across the screen -- a little girl with long blonde hair, no front teeth, square-rimmed glasses.
"When you hear about bullying, it's like an abstract concept," Yates said. "When you put a face on it, an adorable little girl's face, with glasses, it brings it home."
* * *
"I know a Katie. I was Katie."
So Yates did what any geek would -- she went back to her computer.
"My fellow geeks," she wrote on her blog, Epbot.com, "I need your help."
Later that day, in yet another time zone, Catherine Taber clicked Yates' post about a little girl and her "Star Wars" water bottle -- Katie.
* * *
Taber found Katie's mom's blog, sent it to everyone she knew, and left a comment she hoped would help.
"I am [the] actress who has the great honor of being Padme Amidala on 'Star Wars: the Clone Wars!' I just wanted to tell Katie that she is in VERY good company being a female Star Wars fans," Taber wrote. "I know that Padme would tell you to be proud of who YOU are and know that you are not ALONE!
"THE FORCE is with you Katie!"
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