“Mom, Mom, look at dis! See, dis is my shooting-gun, and you look through here, and the bullets come from out here and go eeeeurn, eeeeurn, straight, and you look through here and--” he presses the smooth end of the red plastic clamp for his HotWheels race track against my eye, “den you look out here and see the animals, and--- “
“Bang, bang!” I offer obligingly with a giggle, poking him all over his chest… “I got the big scary tiger!” He dramatically falls on the floor and clutches his three-year-old throat with his tongue out.
“Oh no,” I gasp, “my Benjamin tiger is dead! What do I do?”
On the floor with eyes still closed, “Pray to Jesus!”
“Dear Jesus, please raise my Benjamin tiger from the dead! Amen!”
He waits, motionless except for his smile, savoring the suspense. Then, slowly, he raises his head and flashes me a brilliant smile. He comes over for a hug. I put my book aside, pull him onto my lap, and we examine his shooting-gun together.
“Are you going to the jungle, Ben?” I ask. “You better go get your safari helmet…”
“No, I don’t need it.”
“But what if…” I pause for inspiration. “What if a big snake falls on your head?”
He thinks briefly. “Jesus!”
“Jesus will protect your head?”
“Jesus is better than a safari helmet, isn’t he, Ben?”
As if that was understood without needing to be stated, he jumps up again, “Mom, look, dis is my ma-chine - see, here’s the forehead, and here’s the head, and here’s the rocket engine at the back… ” He makes a very convincing rocket-engine sound in the back of his throat and soars off in a circle.
A fraction of a second later, pointing to a picture of James and I on the fridge, just after we got engaged:
“Mom! Dey's you and Daddy - and dey you have the nicest dress I evuh seen!””
Turning around, red plastic clamp still in hand, he discovers: “Mom, you can speak in deyr!” He trumpets into one tiny hollow end of the clamp, and it makes a small echo around his voice. “Doot-duh-DOO! Doot-duh-DOOOO! Mom, you try it!”
I tootle obligingly, trying to keep from laughing.
When I hand it back, he trots around to the other side of my desk. “Mom, now I have needles in here for the animals, and dey’re very saahp.”
It takes me a couple tries…. “Saahp? Oh, sharp - your needles are very sharp?”
“Yes. Dey can al-most get the bleed out.”
“Why do you want to get the bleed out of the animals?”
“Buh-cuz… buh-cuz dey’re a-sleep. Pyoo, pyoo -- “ he shoots an imaginary needle, “Deyr. I got the bleed out for all the animals, and now dey’re all asleep.”
“Whew!” I say, feigning relief. I’m feeling a bit dizzy.
In the space of five minutes, one piece of red plastic has been a shooting-gun, a rocket-machine, a trumpet, and a tranquilizer gun. In between, I’ve received my nicest compliment all week and witnessed Jesus’ supernatural power displayed to resurrect a man-eating tiger.