Watching Ben play football under the Friday night lights recently made me weepy. That day Omaha Skutt didn’t get a win, but I was so proud to watch my 17-year-old son play with passion and love for the game.
That’s just like Ben Lane — loving life and playing the game of life with heart. Ever since he was a toddler, that has always been his approach. He’s a goal-setter. He’s determined and ambitious.
As my older son Zach and I cheered, I was reminded of a younger boy — my little Benny — who had the same passion but for cowboy boots and horses. Ben wanted to be a cowboy. At age 3, Ben was a cowboy and you couldn’t tell him anything different.
My goals for Ben were to count to 50, know his alphabet and beat all of his 3-year-old counterparts in advanced vocabulary. Ben didn’t buy into my goals. He wanted to be a cowboy.
He wore cowboy boots (many times with only Toy Story‘s Woody underwear on) and a cowboy hat. He always carried his toy horse with him. Every video, book, and made-up game involved a horse or cowboy.
Although I didn’t give up on the alphabet, I decided to surprise him with tickets to the rodeo. We went as a family to the River City Round-up, dressed in semi-western gear. Ben was enamored from the minute we walked in the door. There were horses and cowboys everywhere. Dirt covered the floor and the smell of an over-sized barn filled our senses.
When the bull-riding began, we choose seats closest the side tunnels where the cowboys on horses waited at bay. Their job was to guide the bulls back to their pit following a ride or help the clowns in redirecting an angry bull from a rider in an undesirable position.
They were real cowboys. And they were cool. Although he didn’t miss a minute of the action in the bull-riding arena, Ben’s attention was glued to the cowboys near the gate.
With his chubby toddler fingers resting on the gate and eyes locked on their every move, I allowed Ben stand by the tunnel and take it all in. He was determined to be with the cowboys. In his mind, he was a cowboy too.
He eventually got their attention. I’m not sure what my tot said to the horsemen, but I heard a voice calling for me from the tunnel.
“Ma’am, can I take your son out in the ring?”
He caught me by surprise.
“I will put him on my horse, Ma’am, and give him a ride,” the cowboy said. “He really wants to be out here with us.”
“Sure,” I muttered as Ben rose off with the cowboy to circle the arena.
The cowboy took Ben to the bull pen. Reaching through the fence, the cowboy guiding Ben on petting the bull. Shortly after, the man returned my little cowboy.
“I pet the bull, Mommy!” Ben said. “I’m a cowboy!”
The picture above was taken at the end of the rodeo. The expressions on my boys’ faces — proud big brother and happy cowboy — say it all.
I admire your determination, Ben Lane. But we do need to keep working on that alphabet.
Sandy Lane, a local accountant and mom to three boys, wrote a guest blog for momaha. Read more from her at sandyalanedays.blogspot.com
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