“Templeton, put that down!” ordered John, BA under one arm and HM under the other. “I mean it, Templeton! Do you want to wear your new shirt to school? Because if you don’t put down my gun, you can’t wear it.”
“I’m gonna shoot,” said Templeton, staggering a bit under the weight of the rifle.
“Templeton!” shrieked John, not in sternness but from straight fear. He set BA and HM down and raced across the living room, snatching the rifle from the five-year-old boy. “Okay, listen up, kid. You can’t touch my stuff. How did you…I locked this in a cabinet?”
“I picked the lock!” explained Templeton, proudly.
John sat back on his heels, staring at the little boy. Templeton never ceased to surprise him, though, at this point, he ought to be used to it.
“BA, give it back!” yelled HM, followed by an immediate onslaught of tears.
John jumped to his feet, the rifle in one hand, and Templeton balanced on his left hip and hurried back across the room just in time for BA to give a mighty shove to HM, sending the four-year-old tumbling backward to the ground.
John set Templeton on the ground and his gun on the desk and knelt beside HM, “Alright, little man, up you go. You’re okay.” He turned to BA and put on his stern face, “Now, BA, was that very nice, young man? What did you take from HM?”
BA glared at John but slowly held up a toy airplane. “It’s my turn to play with it,” he whined.
“Now, is stealing the toy and pushing HM over the correct way to handle the situation?” asked John, giving the four-year-old a very pointed look.
“He’s a fool!” snapped BA.
John raised an eyebrow, “What? Where did you learn that word? That’s not a very nice thing to say, BA. You need to tell HM you’re sorry and give him back the plane. Go on.” He nudged BA forward.
Still scowling, BA shoved the toy towards the sniffling HM and said, “I’m sorry.” John pulled HM into a hug, but the brave little man had already stifled the remaining tears.
“Good, boy,” John said to BA. “Okay, now we need to get HM and BA ready for daycare and Temp ready for kindergarten. Upstairs, boys!” John sighed as he watched the three little boys troop up the stairs, chattering back and forth about planes and cars and other subjects of interests to children their age. Somedays, he really couldn’t believe he was raising these three hoodlums. He was only twenty-two, for goodness sakes!
The minute John’s four years in the army were up, he had returned home, fully intending to go into work as an actor or something along the lines. Instead, he found himself just in time to meet the little rascals that would change his life forever. He smiled, remembering the day clearly…