My daughter Josephine is 6 years old and one of her best buddies in the world is named Henry. He is also 6 and like Jo Jo, he is the youngest of three kids.
I can’t remember exactly when or why, but for some reason Jo started calling him “Henry Bo Benry” or, more specifically, “Hen-wy Bo Ben-wy”.
I think she calls him that because 6 year olds get a kick out of anything that rhymes. Or perhaps the laws of friendship and informality work the same for 6 year olds as they do for adults. Like, if I’ve met someone a few times and they keep calling me “Mr. Casey”, I’ll eventually say “Please, just call me Mike.”
Maybe after Jo and Henry had a few play dates together and started to feel simpatico with each other, he may have turned to her and said, “Please, dear, just call me Henry Bo Benry”.
In any event, if it’s been awhile since you’ve watched two 6 year olds play together trust me when I say it’s a total crack up.
You know how they say that 1 human year equals 7 dog years? It’s kind of a similar thing for little kids. When you’ve only been alive for 6 years, time has a completely different meaning than it does for you and I. For little kids, an hour is like a day and a day is like a month.
So when Henry and Jo haven’t seen each other for a day or so the next time they get together it turns into this unbelievably cute and somewhat dramatic reunion that wouldn’t be completely out of place on the silver screen.
Imagine 2 little blonde haired 6 year olds running in slow motion across the playground toward each other screaming ”Jo Jo!” and “Henry Bo Benry” and then embracing each other warmly like they can’t POSSIBLY remember the last time they saw each other and then devolving into 6 year old chit chat that I imagine goes something like this:
“Hi Jo Jo. It’s just been SO long. “How ARE you?”
“I’m fine Henry Bo Benry. How are you?”
“Well, I have a bit of a cold right now and there was a monster in my closet last night, but other than that, I’m fine. Would you like to get a snack, Jo Jo? I believe my Mom has a granola bar with her or perhaps you’d like me to push you on the swing?”
“I’m not hungry right now, Henry. Maybe later. I was thinking we could play Mom and kid or maybe dig for treasures in the sand box. How does that sound?”
“Divine, Jo Jo. Simply Divine.”
Every single time they get together it’s like a kiddie version of Bogie and Bergman reuniting in Casablanca or something.
Yesterday before they went to school, Henry Bo Benry came over to our house to play with Jo Jo however, the dynamic was slightly complicated by the fact that my 7 year old Lily was also home at the same time.
Have you ever watched one of those daytime talk shows where two women fight over the same man?
Well, I swear to you, this is basically what was happening in my house yesterday.
I can’t remember if it’s the male or the female peacock that struts around and expands its feathers trying to impress the opposite sex, but yesterday at my house, it was my 3 and 5 year old daughters playing the part of the peacocks and battling for supremacy.
At one point, Jo Jo climbed up onto the couch and said “Henry! Henry! Watch this! Watch what I can do!” and then she jumped off, and landed on the floor, and stuck the landing just like Mary Lou Retton at the ’84 Olympics, and looked to Henry for some nod of approval.
Before Henry could muster any kind of response, Lily said “Henry! Henry! Watch this! Watch what I can do!” and immediately launched into a tap dance routine complete with a twirling cape and a big-time “jazz hands” finish.
The look on Henry’s face indicated that he wasn’t exactly sure what was happening here, but from what he could tell it wasn’t a bad thing at all.
Have you ever seen a63 year old smirk that says “Oooohhh yeah, I’m gonna ride this for all it’s worth”? Well, now I have.
I was half tempted to suggest that Henry ask the girls to peel him some grapes and fan him with palm fronds but I figured that would be pushing my luck as well as his so I just sat back and watched.
At some point, Anne said “All right kids. Get your stuff. Time to go to school.”
And that’s when Lily and Jo kicked into X chromosome overload.
Jo went to the coat rack and said “Henry, here’s your jacket, honey.”
Not to be outdone, Lily said “Henry, where did you leave your shoes and your crayons?”
Anne said, “Henry, come get your lunch box and the pennies you’re supposed to bring to school today.”
By this point, poor Henry’s head was snapping around in 15 different directions, trying to figure out which assignment he should carry out first.
Kid looked like a damn deer caught in the headlights, and the smirk on his face quickly dissolved into a mask of confusion and, dare I say, fear. It only took him about 4 seconds to come to the following conclusion: “I’m not sure who’s actually in charge here but I’m pretty sure it’s not me.”
Being somewhat familiar with the feeling of having 3 different women barking contradictory orders at you all at the same time, I started to feel like maybe I should man-rescue Henry by taking him out to the back yard to pee on the flowers or downstairs to watch ESPN or something. Anything to get the testosterone kicked into gear in other words.
But then it occurred to me, that even at the tender age of 6, it’s never too early to start learning the hard lessons of life.
And here’s the shortest version of the lesson I can muster:
Henry Bo Benry, my man. What happened to you yesterday has been happening to men since the beginning of time. You didn’t do anything wrong and it’s not your fault.
But in a matter of seconds, you went from being the King on the Throne, decidedly in charge of all the land you surveyed to some sort of court jester that the scullery maids have decided to boss around just for fun.
That’s how quickly the tide can turn, my friend. And believe me when I say, this may be the first time this has happened to you in your young life but it definitely won’t be the last.
Remember to enjoy those brief moments that you’re the King, because in the grand scheme of life, they’re few and far between.
‘Specially when there’s icky girls around.