I am sometimes a little unsure of my parenting skills, as I hope most people who take the job seriously are. Those who approach the task in absolute certainty are almost certainly rearing an unhappy child, and quite probably a monster. However, my actions on the weekend just past may be somewhat contrary to proper disciplining of a youngster, and I hope not to reap a whirlwind out of it.
I was tapping out the final touches on the huge pile of new content on my site (eight pages!) on Sunday morning, I heard my wife call out; my son’s name, followed by, “Dear god! What have you done?” To those who are currently anticipating or merely considering taking up parenthood, I will say that this sort of sound coming from a distant part of the house is exactly the sort of thing that gets one stubbing toes and damaging ligaments in the desperate hurry to discover the cause; the current parent will know exactly what I mean. In the event, I was up out of my writing pit and in the doorway of our bedroom in such short order that the tableau I saw there can hardly have changed from what raised the alarm.
My son, sitting among the pillows at the head of the bed, smiling at the sudden excess of parental attention. Near his right side, the box of a pen, some of the contents spread in small arc. Some, but not all, for in right hand was the section of the pen, and in the left, a cartridge. His fingers were dark, shining blue.
I am rather proud of my reaction at this point. Dark, shining blue equals ink, but definitely not any human bodily fluid I know, so my internal alarm quieted as “The boy is safe” was sounded to all stations. His wholeness ranks above that of pens, it seems, even to my subconscious, and that is definitely as it should be. Assessment of the actual damage followed, and it was less extensive than it might have been. By some miracle, the ink was only on the lad, leaving the bedding untouched. He had not smashed any components of the pen, having worked out long since that if they resist a tug, they unscrew. The major problem, as yet unaddressed, is that he had used the point of the pen to poke a hole into the base of a cartridge, and the point is now somewhat bent. Recoverable, I believe, but bent.
The pen was my Brause 3000, which if you look down that link you will see was an almost unused example of a rather uncommon (if also inexpensive) breed. If it had been a little less complete an example, it wouldn’t have had the cartridges floating about in the box I am a little sad at the injury inflicted on it, but it could have been much worse. The cabinet he was poking around in is the one in which I keep all pens that have their original boxes, so there’s some pretty expensive items in there. I should have been more upset to find he’d done something similar to a near-mint Sheaffer Sentinel of 1948, or the hard-to-get (at the price I’d paid) Waterman Carène. So, no harm to him, not much harm to the pen… I found I could speak to him mildly.
Step one, a short lecture about not messing with Daddy’s stuff. He looked attentive, and responded with “Sorry” and “Yes” at the appropriate prompts. A new place to rest this aspect of my hoard is still a necessity, of course, but I accept that he is well-intended. The rather vigourous hand-washing his mother delivered will stand as the corporal punishment aspect of the disciplining.
Step two is the one that I suspect might be a mis-step. The end of the lecture brought me to this: “No one should touch these pens but Daddy.”
“Do you want a pen of your own?”
Oh, ho! “If I give you your very own pen, you will never touch any of Daddy’s?”
And so, what we might call the carrot of the affair became his introduction to the final stage of the Griffix line, his name ceremoniously inserted into the little window it contains, he instructed in the proper method for charging it, and offered and assenting to the promise that I wouldn’t use his pen if he didn’t use mine. The parental hearts swell at the end of the process, when he carefully draws a big happy face on top sheet of the pile of paper he was offered to use.
Carrot. An alternative means of expressing the desire which prompted the unwelcome behaviour, perhaps. Either one is fine. The fear, of course, is that the lesson he takes from the affair is, “If I wreck some stuff, I get other stuff which is cool and unquestionably mine.” That would be a problem, since, mighty brute that he is, it’s well within his power to drag the TV into the kitchen and make an attempt at beating the refrigerator to death with it.
There is also this; how might I resist the urge to use his pen? That’s a treaty I will almost inevitably break, and then what consequences?
Today’s pen, pondering if it’s living during the Peace of Amiens: Waterman Stalwart
Today’s ink: Waterman blue (vintage stuff, from a full bottle recently found by my friend of remarkable garage-sale powers)