The Year of the Red Rainboots

In Family by Allison Byxbe

To the little boy who grew to be five,


There are these red rain boots that you adopted about two years ago, a hand-me-down from a much loved neighbor-friend. Even though you were gifted brand new rain boots (still a touch too big) for your birthday this year, you return day after day to these red ones. The pull-on handles have recently broken off, your toes squish and jam into the end of them, and yet, you wiggle into them most every day (when you remember where you left them). The funny thing is you usually wear these boots when it’s not raining; in fact, when it is raining, you’re much more likely to run outside and stomp barefooted in the puddles, letting your inching toes squiggle down in the gooey mud. And it’s also very likely that you’ll accidentally leave your boots anywhere but put away, like the time you left your red rain boots at the play park behind our house and a hitch-hiker of a snake found his way inside, under my dining room table. (I’m not sure I’ve forgiven you for that one yet; check with me when you turn 21.)  And I think that whenever I think of this year that turned you five, those old, scuffed, lying who knows where red rain boots will be the picture I see first.

I never knew rain boots could be so vital in a little boy’s life. Then again, I’ve never known a little boy just like you.

A little boy with sandy blonde hair and deep blue eyes who is also possibly the loudest person I know. A little boy who still sometimes says Janjuary and talks about his Papaw who passed away last summer and wonders everyday if I’ll let him bake whatever he wants to. A little boy whose energy is fueled through music, and people, and emotions. A little boy with deep emotions and unhindered affection. A little boy who has exactly two quiet spots in his life — the backseat of our van on the way to preschool and sitting at our art bar, where you sometimes spend endless minutes drawing and creating and crafting and writing {love} notes. I try not to interrupt your contemplation and your focus because I think something sacred is happening in those moments.

Benjamin Lucas, this year has officially launched you out of toddler-hood and into boyhood. I wonder how your delirious joy for life will evolve. I wonder how you’ll do walking into elementary school for the first time. I wonder how you will surprise, delight, and inspire us. I wonder if this will be the year that you outgrow those red rain boots.