(keep following “Falcon” over on my story blog)
Ben asks for an apple. I gladly give him one after he says, “Please.” I start making myself a sandwich, which I plan to grill on the griddle I used to make pancakes earlier in the day. For some reason, every time I use that thing, it sits for two or three days on the kitchen island, as if we’re both waiting for someone else to clean it.
When I’m about to cut the cheese for my sandwich, Ben asks that I cut his apple. His mouth is still a little small to eat a Royal Gala apple, and it ends up looking like a mouse gnawed out a few spots to get to the sweet stuff inside. As I deftly slice his apple, he notices the hole in the middle, where the seeds lie in wait to create a new tree. “There’s a hole in it, Daddy,” he says.
“Yes, Ben, that’s where the seeds are. Can you see them?” I hold it up at a better viewing angle.
“Oh, seeds, Daddy?”
“Yes. To grown an apple tree, you plant the seeds. Did you know trees come from seeds?”
He nods as he crunches another bite of apple.
I privately wonder whether I will, in fact, go outside and dig a hole to plant those seeds when he inevitably requests it. He never does.
After I put my sandwich on the griddle, I go back to the table and dig around in Ben’s apple core to let the seeds fall onto his plate. He likes them and corrals them into a tightly packed group.
I finish grilling my sandwich and go sit beside Ben to eat. I read a science fiction novel that Alvis gave me, but stop often to talk to Ben when he says something about his apple or the seeds it so generously spilled. It is an absorbing book, but not a particularly challenging read, so doing both at once isn’t a problem.
Well, sort of.
Out of the corner of my eye, I notice Ben putting his left hand up to his left ear and moving it back and forth. Figuring he just had an itch, I keep reading. Then I notice his right hand giving his right ear the same business. I mark my spot and set down my book.
There aren’t as many seeds on his plate.
Warning: May contain small parts not appropriate for children under 3. But, wait, my kid’s over three now, so that means an automatic, hard-and-fast rule is in effect. Plus, it’s fruit, not some plastic thingamabob.
“Ben, are you putting seeds in your ears?”
I reach up to his left ear and, in a little cubbyhole above his ear canal rests a tiny apple seed, perfectly tucked away until winter. Same thing in the right ear. I dig both out. “A bean,” Ben says when he sees my harvest.
I look in the ear canal itself, but see nothing. Still, it warrants a closer look. I tell Ben to keep his hands out of his ears and then head to find what I need.
Thirty seconds later, I’m holding a flashlight and a pair of tweezers up to my son’s ear, like I’m an expert at seed extraction. I quickly understand why doctors have a special tool to peer into the ear. Very soon after I start, I convince myself that what little I can see in there does not include the dreaded apple embryo, set the flashlight and tweezers on the table, and promptly remove the seeds from Ben’s plate.
I wonder at the dexterity it took for Ben to find that spot in his outer ear, then tuck those seeds inside. They were completely hidden, and probably going nowhere until his next bath.
When I relate the story to my wife, I say, “I’m still not sure whether he stuffed any into the ear canal itself. If you see a branch or a leaf pop out of Ben’s ear one day, then you’ll know.”