“Oh, just a second,” Gideon said as he was climbing into bed. He threw the covers off and pumped his arms back across the room to his Lego table. “I’m going to give this little man him pistol.” He delicately pressed a laser gun into the yellow hand of his new little soldier. It had only been a few minutes ago that we had pulled this little spaceman from the window of his Star Wars Lego advent calendar, and I could tell he was having a hard time thinking about anything else at the moment.

He stood the man up on the green platform and aimed his gun at the door, and then started back across the room.

I smiled to myself and teased him, “Oh, so now he has to hold a gun all night long. Don’t you think he will get tired? That’s not really fair.” I pulled the covers back and motioned for him to climb into bed. But he froze, hesitating halfway between his bed and his table. He glanced over his shoulder and then at me and wrung his hands. He made a very quiet whining sound as if tiny gears in his head were spinning out of control and about to melt.

“Oh, I’m sorry little man,” I said quickly. “It’s okay. I’m teasing. That little soldier doesn’t care. he’s strong.”

“No,” he turned back around and sulked to the table. “You are right. That wasn’t a very nice thing for me to do.” He sadly took the laser gun out of the man’s hand and placed it in the plastic grass, and then he picked the man up, folded his arms at his sides and placed him on his back. “If I get to go to sleep, why shouldn’t he too?” he said softly. And he pat the little spaceman gently and walked back to his bed.

As he climbed into bed, I pulled him to my chest and pretended not to notice that he was struggling not to cry. It had been a long day. “Oh, Gideon… You are a good commander,” I told him confidently. “It is very kind of you to let your soldiers sleep tonight and not make them stay up to guard the door. I think you will find that you will be better off for this in the long run. That little spaceman will love you and fight that much harder for you tomorrow morning.”

He frowned and avoided eye contact, but nodded as if he understood what I was saying.

“That’s just what people do when they love someone. And hey…” I tousled his hair and adjusted his pillow. “I can prove it even. Because you don’t have to worry about someone defending your door tonight. Because I’m going to watch your door all night long. And I don’t even NEED a laser gun.”

He buried his face in his pillow but lifted his arm from the covers to give me a thumbs up.