My office door slowly opened and Gideon’s head leaned through it. “Dad!” he whispered very loudly. “Can you talk? Are you in a meeting?”
Thankfully, I wasn’t currently in a meeting, but I was busy with something at my computer so I merely glanced at him and gave him a half-hearted, “Oh, sure. I’m free, little man. What do you need?”
He stumbled in and stood next to my chair. I pat his hand without looking and waited for him to talk.
“So… Dad,” he said finally. “Can I maybe have a toothpick?”
“Oh, sure,” I fumbled around my desk and found the toothpick holder that I keep next to my monitor. I twisted the cap and shook one out into my palm. “Here. You can have this one.”
He took it and spun it between his fingers. “Okay, thanks, Dad. This will work.” And then he turned to leave.
But before he was out the door, I realized I hadn’t been paying enough attention to what was happening. So, I quickly closed what I was working on and turned in my chair to face him. “Gideon! Wait wait wait. Come here and give me a hug.”
He slowly walked back and put his arms around my neck.
“Thanks. Now, why do you need a toothpick at 3:00 in the afternoon?”
He seemed a bit embarrassed and kind of shrugged. “Well…” He stared down at his hands as he twirled the toothpick in his fingers again. “Okay, so… this is kindof weird, but I sort of accidentally got something very very stuck up my nose, so I was going to-“
“Nope!” I interrupted him. “NopeNopeNope!” I held out my hand. “Give me the toothpick, Gideon.”
“But I need it to-“
“Nope! Give me the toothpick.”He hesitated, lifting the toothpick in a way that seemed to be halfway between either placing it in my hand or stabbing it violently up his nose. There was obviously a struggle going on inside his little brain.
“Don’t do it, little man. Give me the toothpick.” He looked at me, then back at his small weapon. “Give… me… the toothpick…”
Very slowly, almost painfully, he lowered the splinter of wood into my palm as if he were fighting with all his strength to resist the gravitational pull of the tiny black hole of his nostril.
I closed my fingers around the toothpick, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath before talking, “So… Okay. I’m not going to ask what is up your nose-“
“It’s one of Lydia’s beads,” he said.
“Sure, whatever. And I’m not going to ask how it got up your no-“
“I stuffed it up there with my finger,” he said.
“Right. Sure. Of course. Don’t do that. But, ALSO, never…” I sighed, “Never stick a toothpick, or anything else like a toothpick, up your nose.”
He pointed at his face, “But I have a bead-“
“I know you have a bead up your nose. All a toothpick would do is make you have a bead AND a toothpick in your nose.”
“Then how do I get it out?”
“Here,” I pulled a tissue from a box on my desk and waved it in front of him. “Do you remember how to blow your nose?”
He shook his head and watched the tissue like it was an alien thing he had never seen before in his life. “Okay, you will have to explain that again.”
“Of course… of course, I will. Follow me to the bathroom.” On our way, I mumbled something under my breath about how 100 years ago I would be just a few years away from dying and leaving my farm to this boy, and now here I am reminding him how to blow his nose since he accidentally got a Perler bead stuck in his head.