Friday, December 13, 2019

"I'm him."

This is a post about Barrett.

Right now, Barrett is at his very first Royal Ranger Lock-In with his daddy and his big brother. It's a junk-food-fueled, all-night Nerf battle for all the church boys ages 6-12. I asked him and William to pack their things - "Just something to sleep in, and something to wear in the morning-" and he descended with seven pairs of underwear and a pile of clothes. "I got three pairs of shorts, just in case."

He disappeared again, then returned with an armful of stuffed animals. "I can't sleep without these."

"Also, I need to bring this toy bull."

"Do you think the boys will want to play Frisbee?"

"I should bring my school stuff, in case we do school."

"I should bring my Bible."

"We need our walkie-talkies!"

(Suffice to say he left with much less than he packed. I did send the walkie-talkies, with fresh batteries.)

So now they're gone, and I'm baking, and listening to my book, and working out, and taking a minute here to dedicate a post to Barrett, my number-two, little five-year-old guy with the massive heart of gold.


Barrett is always some creature. "Mom, see this chameleon? I'm him."

"Mom, you know that blue turtle shell from Mario? I'm him, but with a turtle inside."

"Mom, you know that fire lizard from Frozen? I'm him."

"Mom, you know that kind of fish? With the spikes that blows up like a ball? I'm him, but I have long spikes on my fins and they shoot in and out."

(Of course, no matter what fearsome creature he is at the moment, I'm always his caretaker, whom he adores and would never hurt.)


Every night at bedtime, he requests a variation of his old favorite, "It is Night-Time," which I came up with on the fly four years ago, unaware I'd be singing it hundreds of times over the next few years. At some point, Barrett began asking to change it to "It Is Green Iguana Time" or "Tomato Frog Time" or "Pig Time" or "Fire Lizard Time," and now, every night, it's something new. A few months ago he asked for "Ninja Frog Time," which Mac and Neva loved so much that they ditched their own songs and adopted "Ninja Toad" as their favorite, so I literally sing this same tune three times every night, once for Barrett, with on-the-fly lyrics about the Creature of the Minute, and then twice for Mac and Neva:

It is toad time, ninja toad time,
Hi-YA, kick, and punch
You are such a tough amphibian,
You eat bad guys for lunch (crunch!)
You jump and you flip,
You save animals from the road,
All the forest creatures love you,
You're the sweet Ninja Toad.

I digress. Anything unusual that moves, fascinates and inspires Barrett. He covers our walls with art, mostly pictures of animals, monsters, and aliens, fierce and friendly. He is fascinated with Pokemon. He just loves CREATURES.


He is full of love. He gives in in heaping measure to anyone who needs it. Today, in an email to his mentor, he had to answer a question from her about what made him special and unique. He thought for a minute and then dictated to me, "I am special because I can try to juggle. And I am good at drawing and writing and art. And I am good at making friends with babies and kids and being nice to kids that are hurt or sad."

He really is. He possesses remarkable empathy for someone his age. He is the best friend of everyone in the family, playing alternately with William and Neva and Mac, bridging the gap beautifully. Mac loves him dearly. "Bunnett!"


Sometimes, I think, the stress of being everyone's playmate gets to him a bit. The other day, in a burst of Home Alone-inspired independence, he yelled down the stairs, "When I grow up and get married, I'm livin' ALONE!"


On my way upstairs one evening, I met him traveling down to the first-floor bathroom with an armful of Consumer Reports magazines. "I have to poop," he explained, "and I gotta see what's going on in the news." Quite a while later, he emerged with a handful of promotional cardboard coupons he'd torn out of the magazines as he'd sat there on the toilet. "Mom, is this money??"


Whenever Barrett is naughty, I breathe a little sigh of relief. It's refreshing to know he's not, after all, a perfect child. Because sometimes he's pretty darn close. I sometimes think about the miscarriage I had before him. I wouldn't have had Barrett without that bump in the road. At the time, it seemed purely awful. Now, I would live it again ten times over, if that's what it took to get my Barrett boy.

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