Sunday, December 11, 2011

Beautiful Boy

Every night when I come home the first thing I see is Ben’s heart.

It’s just a heart-shaped piece of green glittery paper that I have taped to my front door, but it means so much to me.

Up until recently, Ben was my four-year-old next-door neighbor. I knew I’d miss him after I moved, but I didn’t realize how much.

He gave me that green heart back in the summer as my sister and I were cleaning out our family’s house. Every weekend we’d look forward to seeing Ben poke his head in from outside and shout “Wob-ert!”

He would talk with us, look around the empty house, and then suddenly say, “I have to go now.” And off he’d go.

Ben is such a sweet kid, always willing to share things, which I find amazing for a child that age. I don’t think I was anywhere as near as generous when I was four years old, so Ben has taught me an important lesson.

We told him not to give us anything, but nevertheless Ben stopped by the house one time and gave my sister and me some balloons he had. Then he promptly ran for the door.

“You keep! You keep!” he said over his shoulder.

It was great having such a devoted fan. I offered to blow up a beach ball for him one afternoon and while I huffed and puffed, Ben cheered me on.

“Awesome! Awesome!” he yelled. “C’mon, Robert, you can do it!”

A Friend Indeed

I could do it, but it took a little more lungpower than I had expected. I finally got the thing inflated and handed it over to Ben. He stopped playing with it long enough to ask me a question.

“Do you have kids?” he asked.

No, I don’t, but if I did I’d want them to be just like Ben.

During this summer’s Senator Street block party, I got into a wild basketball game with a bunch of little girls who were visiting one of my neighbors.

They surrounded me, grabbed me from behind, tried to kick the ball away from me—it was more like the WWF than the NBA. But Ben jumped in between me and my tormenters and put his arms out, determined to be my bodyguard.

“Those girls are cuckoo,” I said when the game family ended.

“Those girls are tutu,” Ben added. Oh, well, close enough…

One day I watched Ben crossing the street with his grandmother and her homecare aid. The grandmother was on a walker, the aid was busy helping the old lady, and Ben was standing next to them. They looked so vulnerable as they stepped off the sidewalk.

“I’m going to the park!” Billy told me, all excited.

I winced imagining these three being exposed to the cuckcoos that drive around here. I told them to wait until there were absolutely no cars coming down the block.

When the street was finally clear, the three of them started across with Ben putting his hand out in the traffic cop position. Atta boy, Ben.

After we closed on the house my sister and I stopped by Ben’s house to say goodbye. We had to go now.

“You give me your phone number,” he said.

I gave Ben my card, though I don’t expect him to call. He’s a kid and I’m a grown man-more or less-but I do get tempted sometimes to knock on his door and ask if Ben can come out and play.

I’m glad for the time I had with Ben. He has a special place in my heart and he’s welcome to it.

You keep, Ben. You keep.


Ron said...

Rob, this post TOTALLY warmed my heart and made me smile!

“Those girls are tutu,” Ben added." ADORABLE!

I adore being around kids because they constantly remind me to never lose that child-like quality we all have within ourselves.

"I’m glad for the time I had with Ben. He has a special place in my heart and he’s welcome to it."

I'm sure you had just as much a positive impact on Ben as he did on you. And I'm sure he will always remember you as Wob-ert the Wonderful!

Hope you're enjoying this holiday season, buddy! Have a grrrreat week!

Rob K said...

Never losing the child-like quality we all have--that is such a great point, Ron. That's why I loved being around Ben so much. He helps me see the beauty if simple things. Thanks so much for stopping by and enjoy the holidays!

Jay at The Depp Effect said...

Awww ... that is just so sweet!! This post actually brought tears to my eyes. What a great kid he sounds, and you sound pretty cool yourself! In these days when many grown men are afraid to talk to children at all for fear of accusations of paedophilia, it is refreshing to hear of one who is quite willing to get out there and play with them, and talk to them. Yeah, and love them - in a perfectly wholesome needed way.

What kind of world will it be when the woolly hat PC brigade finally have their way and nobody looks at, talks to or even touches kids anymore. How can we expect them to form decent adult relationships??

Good for you - and good for Ben! I wish I had a green sparkly heart!

Rob K said...

Hi, Jay, thank you so much for your kind thoughts. I'd be a liar if I didn't say that the "p-word" hadn't crossed my mind, but I didn't let that stop me. He's a sweet kid looking to give and receive affection and I'm more than happy to oblige--on both counts. Green sparkly hearts for everybody!!