He sits by the window, staring beyond what he sees. Outside there are trees and bushes and an open field, but what he sees are cowboys and indians and magical horses that charge at such speeds it looks as though they are flying. He dreams of a different world as he sits in his pajamas and cowboy boots, his bow and arrow in his lap and his cowboy hat beside him. How he longs to go outside and fight within the battle. But he is in trouble…again.

His bed is a spaceship; his room is the galaxy. He navigates among the stars, meeting aliens on other planets. His imagination runs wild from blast-off to re-entry. He is the commander of his vessel, communicating with mission control. “Houston, this is Andromeda. We are landing on the moon.” He explores his room which is no longer his room, but a surface of gray powdered dirt that is as soft as ash. He bounces around in zero gravity, picking up large moon rocks. He is being punished on earth, but he is a hero in the heavens.

“Can I go outside and play?” he asks his mother days later. He has doctored aliens and fought off space monsters; he has raced an indy car and won a trophy that was taller than he; he has jockeyed a horse that won the Triple Crown; he has quarterbacked a team that won a championship, throwing the ball to score the winning touchdown. But now John Wayne needs him. He needs his help fighting the indians who are threatening to scalp the men and steal their horses. He’s been anxious, wondering if he should take his bow or his BB gun. He wants to climb the big oak tree and defend from high above.

“Are you going to be a good boy from now on?” she asks.

“Yes, ma’am,” he promises.

But she knows it’s hard for a little boy to keep such a promise. Little boys are curious and bright. They don’t look for trouble, but trouble always finds them. Mothers should know and forgive; but good mothers have to punish, even through tears.

She smiles as she takes his empty cereal bowl. “You may go play, but don’t go down near the river again. Not without your father. Tell ol’ Mr. John Wayne your mother said so.”

He nods timidly, smiling shyly, his blue eyes shining. “Yes, ma’am.”

When armed with his BB gun, he races to the edge of the trees. He’s told the indians are quiet at the moment, but they could awaken at any time. He scales the tree with ease and waits on a low, sturdy branch. He is the look-out and will whistle the call when the enemy moves.

His mother smiles as she watches him, admiring his creative spirit and his tender heart. How she loves that little boy.

by Janet Robinson © 2013