A few years ago, my dad sat me down and said, “You know, it’s ok to make a mistake now and then.”
I had no idea what he was talking about until last Sunday.
We were at my favorite street fair in the world, Evanston’s own “Custer’s Last Stand.” This nod to the slain cavalry commander features everything I love in a fair: E Coli, warm beer, mildly criminal street performers and lots of overpriced junk.
Before we entered the fair, I explained to Elijah and Luca that their late grandma Jane would be purchasing one overpriced junky toy for each of them. I instructed them to walk through the entire grounds before they choose and…no, Eli you can’t buy that toy yet. Didn’t I just say to wait? No. Eli. Be patient.
Anyway, I dragged the boys around the mustard lined streets and we stumbled across the “Ye Olde Wooden Sword” stand. It called to Luca like the Siren’s song. His eyes widened at row after row of $20 painted scrap wood.
Diana has a rule against the purchase of toy firearms. But there is nothing in the Hamann Charter about wooden blades. So sure. Go nuts. Pick anyone you want. No. I meant pick any non-five-foot-tall-broad-swords. Sheesh. We negotiated down a Luca sized sword and I bent down to Luca-level.
“Okay. Here’s the deal. A sword is a privilege, not a right. This place is crowded. You can’t swing this thing around all willy nilly. The first time you smack someone’s kneecaps, I’m going to have to take it from you. We both don’t want that, right?”
He kept the sword jammed down the back of his shirt, ninja style. But every once and a while he’d get too excited and unsheathe it in all it’s splintery glory. I’d bend down and whisper, “Watch out. We don’t want to lose it, right?”
We ended up in front of Diana’s wine store to score a plastic cup full of pinot noir. While I sipped, I saw out of the corner of my eye Luca swinging his sword around wildly.
He narrowly missed a lady who made a dramatic act of looking perturbed. I ran over and bent down.
“Buddy. Please don’t make me take your sword. Please. I don’t want to take it from you.”
Luca threw his sword to the ground in tears.
“I don’t want it anymore. I hate it. I hate that sword.”
I could tell he was mad at himself for losing control. I channeled my dad and tried to smooth it over.
“I’m not mad, buddy. Not one percent. You are not in trouble. You are totally cool. It’s okay you forgot about swinging it. Totally okay. Not mad. See? Not mad.”
But I couldn’t get him to pick it up. He was mad at himself and the world and his stupid sword.
Do I sheathed the sword in my own t-shirt and we walked over to buy Eli a toy laser gun. Because the Hamann Charter says nothing about toy laser guns.