Gideon was given a small two-pronged plastic toothpick last night so he could eat some fruit, and after he was done using it he refused to put it down. This did not surprise me. I remember my own young fascination with tiny multicolored plastic swords. (The only thing that surprises me is that we, as a society, stopped at using them to hold together sandwiches and cheese samples at the grocery store. Why did we convince ourselves that a plain metal fork was more civilized than something more rad, like a large plastic sword? We will never know.)
Anyway, as I thought these thoughts about plastic food swords, I could sense that Gideon was having similar thoughts at the same time. He rolled the little yellow spike between two fingers and spun it, then held it in his fist like a sword and practiced slashing it through the air a few times, and then he held it pointed down like a dagger and tested stabbing it into his pant leg as if he were curious to see how hard he would have to jab it in order for it to hurt. You know, normal little boy things. But this last part is where I finally intervened and gently reached over to grab his wrist and shake my head sadly in disapproval.
“Please don’t stab things with that, Gideon.”
And to this, he responded with a confused expression and said, “Okay, I won’t stab things. But… I think that’s what it is for.” He held the sword up so I could see that it was molded to look like it had a handle and a decorated shaft like a spear, with two angular tines at the end of it. “See? It’s kind of a sword… like for fighting.”
And I nodded and agreed that it was “kind of a sword”, but also, I didn’t want him using it as a sword to stab things. And then as I reconsidered the situation I said, “Actually, I’m sorry, but I think I should probably take it away for now.” I knew what his reaction was going to be at this suggestion.
He immediately held the spear out to me but started to whimper quietly and then groan, “Oooooooh… kay… But, I just wanted to play with it at home.”
I held the skewer for a few seconds and sighed at the pitiful little man, then I placed it back into his palm and closed his fingers around it. “Okay, you can keep it, but be Very Very careful with it, okay? I don’t want to see you sticking your sisters with it, or find you running around with it in your hand where you can trip and poke an eye out or something.”
And he agreed. And he very obediently and patiently protected the yellow spear in his fist for the rest of the evening, always clearly aware of where it was, and conscious of which way it was pointing.
I eventually lost track of him, as I started to trust him more and more with the bident (as that is what his Uncle Isaac told us it was called).
On the drive home, he fell asleep with it held tightly in both hands. A few minutes later, I pulled him out of the back of the car in our crowded garage and he limply found his footing. After gaining his balance, he turned back to me, suddenly very awake, and announced, “Oh dad! I still have this,” and he held the spear up for me to see.
“I saw that. Good for you, little man.”
“Yep!” he said, “and I haven’t even killed anyone with it yet!”
I was a bit stunned by this revelation and was frozen mid smile while I tried to figure out what that meant. The word “yet” hung in the air like a warning. It seemed to imply so many ominous things about the future. “Good… um, that’s great. Yeah, let’s not worry about killing anyone with it, okay? Just don’t poke yourself.”
“Yeah, okay.” he trundled his way towards the door to the house, “I mean, probably we won’t have to use it, but maybe, if there’s like bad guys or something.”
“No,” I shook my head, but he couldn’t see me, “No, we won’t need it at all, because that is ridiculous.”
By the time I got my shoes off and put down my bags he had disappeared upstairs somewhere, and I had to hunt him down so I could confiscate his weapon again since it was obviously giving him strange ideas. But when I found him he didn’t have it anymore.
“Okay, dude. Where is the spear thing?”
He took my hand and led me into my bedroom. “I put it there.” He pointed to my bedside table. Sure enough, it was sitting next to my phone charger.
“Okay, why though?”
He yawned and walked away, “It’s so you can have it tonight, in case bad guys break into the house. You can use it to fight them off.” I followed him and watched as he climbed into his own bed still talking quietly as if to himself, “I will be too tired to do it. So, I gave it to you. You can fight off the bad guys tonight.”
“Huh…” I said, pulling the blankets up around the neck of the strange little man. “Neat,” I said shutting off his bedroom lights. “Well… good night, I guess.”
“Good Night,” he said, eyes already closed. “Don’t forget about the sword.”
“No, I won’t forget.”
That night I was woken up by a sound in the hallway. It was probably just guinea pigs moving around in their cage, but my eyes fell on the little spear a foot or so in front of me on the table. I reached out and moved it slightly, so it would be in a better position if I happened to need it in a hurry later that night.