There was a time, I am told, when a man’s home was his castle. But I’m pretty sure that is the stuff of legends and fables, passed on over the years, from one generation to the next, by men who would not understand the virtues of modern fatherhood.
There are castles in my home, that much is true. Three of them at last count. One is made by Playmobil, another by Little People and yet another by Imaginext. I wouldn’t be surprised to find another one popping up in my living room within the next day or two. They sprout up as fast as the condos in the town that surrounds my home, and they have begun to crowd me out of my own house. It bothers me that they don’t pay rent for the space they occupy.
Knights also have taken up refuge in my home. Lots of them. Hundreds maybe. I’ve never been able to count them all, but I find them all the time. They hide behind cushions, ready to ambush me whenever I try to put my head down for a nap. At night, they creep out from their hiding places and lie on the floor, waiting for me, ever so patiently. When I get up out of bed and make my way down the stairs and into the kitchen, they see vulnerability in my bare feet. “Ouch!” Another one got me. They strike at all hours, seemingly from out of nowhere. You always have to be on your guard.
Then there’s the squire, the knight-in-training who stands all of three and a half feet but packs enough energy and enthusiasm into his four-year-old body to topple an empire. Always, he keeps me on my toes, and, always, I am in awe of him. He is the heir to the throne, and a more worthy successor I cannot imagine.
My home is not my castle, it is his. He has made it this way because that’s the way he likes it. Unlike me, he doesn’t mind stepping on toys and he doesn’t get all in a lather if his castle isn’t the most tidy. After all, he points out to me regularly, knights didn’t lead the most hygienic lives. They ate with their hands, rarely bathed and pooped into a pit. The knight-to-be in our family has adopted some of these Medieval practices. He shuns food utensils and prefers grime over cleanliness, but, thankfully, he at least seems to appreciate flushable toilets.
Although the would-be knight has acknowledged the benefits of modern plumbing, he has yet to accept that when one sits on the throne, it is supposed to be a sacrosanct place inside the castle where a great ruler can have the privacy he needs to think great thoughts – and read the sports pages.
It is daybreak, and the little squire sits on the hard, cold tile floor, still in his pajamas. Meanwhile, I sit, with pants pushed down to my knees, on my own hard, cold seat, this one ovate to fit to the contour of my bare bum.
My son’s head pushes up between my knees. I look down at him and he bends his head back and looks up at me.
“You aren’t going to move, are you?” I ask.
The heir to the throne doesn’t respond, and he doesn’t budge.
In hindsight, the moat option around the master bathroom would have been a good investment.