He may not be tall, dark, and handsome. He may not come riding in on his white horse to save the day, and the sword he holds to protect his princess from all things evil may be a plastic one. Nonetheless, he is her knight in shining armor. She towers over him, but in her eyes he is bigger than the darkness she fears when she needs to retrieve something upstairs, and can’t bear to face the second floor alone. He is bigger than the sounds of night when she asks him to accompany her to take the trash outside. She begs him to sleep with her every night, as if the sheer warmth of his tiny body pressed up against hers is enough to protect her even in her nightmares.
Her little knight takes his job seriously. He discusses movie options with her, and together they choose one they can both lose themselves in for a couple of hours, popcorn in hand, both occupying one half of the couch. The chosen flick must be one of adventure, but can not include anything too scary. His knightly duties are many, and he carries them proudly on his tiny little shoulders. He is the littlest knight with the biggest heart.
I recall one day when I walked up to the school, and he was standing next to his Pre-school teacher. It was the week of Halloween, and all the children had their faces painted at school that day. As I approached him, about to share the appropriate level of excitement over his face art, I slowed my pace. I could only see black smudges across both cheeks. Amateur face painting or the 88 degree temperature? I didn’t have time to ask before his teacher offered an explanation that has stayed with me ever since.
You see, the little knight stood in line as excited as his little friends anxiously awaiting his turn for face painting. One by one, his peers walked off with smiling faces, and admired the masterpieces bestowed upon their sweet little cheeks in a handheld mirror the teacher held up to them. When it came to be Evan’s turn, he made sure to stand perfectly still, a difficult task for a four-year old knight accustomed to being in constant motion. Once the piece was complete, he walked off to the mirror and took in his reflection. He looked at his teacher, looked at the artist, and kindly asked for the face paint to be removed. They convinced him to keep it on for a bit, I imagine in hopes he would get used to it. Tears ensued as well as much face rubbing. Hence, the black smudges I came upon that afternoon. After much prompting, he explained to his teacher that while he really liked the artwork, there was no way he could go home with it on his face. In a voice too soft for an armor clad warrior, he explained. “The problem is my sister is afraid of spiders.”