I love language. I never met a 25 cent word I didn’t like. Original metaphors make my heart beat faster. But best is good, clean simple language. Words that are crispy. That is why Wally Ben is my new favorite poet.

Like most preschoolers, he is a very literal-minded guy. As an example, he was watching TV and some 3 inch high little guys were on the screen. He turned to me, like this reminded him of something, and said, “Does God really live in our hearts?” This is the lesson they’ve been learning at preschool this year. “Yes,” I answered. He asked, “But how does God get into your heart?” He kept staring at the guys on the screen, and realized his image of a little God, that somehow works His way into your aorta. An omnipotent aneurism. It must be scary to have a mind like that sometimes.

And also, like many preschoolers, he is an imaginative fellow, too. I’ve mentioned before that he invents, entirely, what happened at preschool most days. His latest report was that both of his teachers were sick (they weren’t—I saw them at drop off and pick up). Even if I didn’t witness that what he is saying is not true, I can tell when he is giving me a complete fabrication of facts. His tell: the word “actually”, as in, his story yesterday, “The snack today was cucumbers. Actually, it was cake. Actually, I was the only one to get cake for a snack today. I ate the whole cake. Actually, I just had one piece, so the rest of the cake is still at school.”

So both of these—his literal-mindedness and his imagination—contribute to some beautiful turns of phrase. The other day, I found him on the couch snuggled under a blanket. Since this laying still thing is rare for him, I asked, “What are you doing?” He replied, “Sitting comfy cozy.” I don’t think I could put it better myself.

And after a recent playdate, he said, “My friend is only this fast.” He held his fingers a centimeter apart.

WV Fast
“Oh yeah?” I asked, “And how fast are you?” He held his fingers 3 inches apart and said, “I am this fast!”

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(Mental note—we must work on the art of exaggeration.) But then he went on: “I have a lot of fast in me.” Man is that beautiful.

He continued this idea of fast as an object last night. “Mommy, do you want me to pray for you to get faster?” Wally Four added, “She is pretty slow.” (Thanks a lot, Wal.) Wally Ben then said, “Maybe sometime I can give her a little of my fast.”

I know this poet phenomenon applies to most kids. Even Vivvi is getting in on some of this talk, also. The other day, we were getting out of the shower. She had a bowl she had been splashing with. She set it on my head and said, “Put it on your head.” Then she set it on my shoulder and said, “Put it on your naked.” So to her, a body is our head, our hands, and our naked. She might be a little scandalized when it gets warmer out and more of us are showing more of our nakeds.

Listen to the kids. Hear their word choices. They are beautiful, because they are simple. They cut the fat, and get right at what they mean. I wish we could all talk that way. It really is a gift to be simple.