The Rimmatoop

Five years ago today I met my son. He was four years old at the time. Like most kids, he loves to hear the story of how he came into our family.

His entrance to our world is a different sort of tale than that of our other kids, but it’s sweet and special and one we all recall fondly. Here’s how it goes….

One day, in the middle of July, I got a call at work from Children’s Division. A four year old boy had come into care. His name was Caleb. That was all I knew about my boy when I left work a few minutes early to meet him.

I first laid eyes on him at a McDonald’s Play Place. He was accompanied by his case worker. He had eyes as brown as chocolate and the cutest, chubbiest cheeks. He didn’t speak.

I said goodbye to the case worker and loaded Caleb into my car. I peeked into the backseat a million times to see his sweet face. He would smile but the silence hung heavy. I began to talk. About nothing and everything just to fill the quiet. I told him about our home and our other kids. I talked about the cows we drove past. I told him we had chickens at our house. And a pool.

Then, out of nowhere, he began talking!! I was thrilled, but I couldn’t understand what he was saying. He repeated himself over and over again, growing increasingly frantic. “I need my rimmatoop! My rimmatoop. I NEED MY RIMMATOOP!”

Bless his little heart. I asked him to repeat himself a hundred times. I tried repeating what I was hearing and he assured me I wasn’t understanding him correctly. He was frustrated, I was beside myself. I needed to know what it was that this boy needed. I needed to understand him.

My cousin is a speech therapist. A brilliant one, in my opinion. I figured if anyone could distinguish his jibberish, it would be her. When we arrived home I texted her: “this kid needs his Rimmatoop. What the heck is a Rimmatoop?! Help!!”

Time passed. I introduced him to the dog and the chickens. He met the kids and my husband. He discovered some toys and was quickly entertained. He had seemingly forgotten about the Rimmatoop he had so desperately needed.

A while later I received a short message from my cousin. It simply said: swimming suit?  I asked, “Caleb, do you need your SWIMMING SUIT?” His smile told the answer. Of course that was it. He had begun *needing* it as soon as I mentioned we had a pool. And of course we promptly got him one.

Our story doesn’t take place in a hospital. No doctors or epidurals. No newborn photos or bitty baby inky footprints. But it’s one of my most favorite stories to tell. And one of his most favorite to hear.

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