I came home from work one day to a horrendous smell. Following my nose to the kids’ bathroom, I saw my daughter, then maybe 9, with a Barbie doll. Barbie was naked, and her hair had been chopped off. My daughter was holding Barbie by her little neck over the sink, and had a lighter at Barbie’s foot.
“Talk,” my daughter screamed, as Barbie’s foot melted into the sink. “I told you to talk!”
My first thought was that my daughter should not have had access to a lighter, so I asked her where she got it. “Oh, it was with daddy’s cigarettes,” she told me, sweet as could be.
“What are you doing with Barbie?” I asked her, trying to keep my voice calm. My little daughter’s eyes hardened and she nearly snarled “She won’t give up enemy secrets, so I have to torture her!”
This was out of character for my daughter, and we were not a household that condoned torture, under any circumstances, so that really took me by surprise.
“OK, Honey, can you maybe find a way to torture Barbie that won’t release toxic fumes?”
My daughter thought about it for a moment. “Sure,” she cheerfully told me. “And Honey, please give me the lighter.” She handed it right over.
To this day, I don’t know what secrets a plastic doll might have held, or what methods were next employed, although I did find a plastic arm on the floor some time later.
My daughter did not grow up to be a serial killer or to work for an intelligence agency, but rather, for non-profit arts organizations. She opposes torture and thinks that all people, including prisoners, should be treated with dignity. She is very kind to people and animals. I have never witnessed any cruelty, except for that one incident, which is still a bit alarming to remember.