This Little Boy

Meet my new little five year old.

He can do his chores.

He can do all his studies.

He can play his violin.

He is learning to read and write.

He can play nicely with his sisters.

He can sleep all night.

He can sit still when he wants to.

He can tell me why he is frustrated without getting violent.

He can go to bed sweetly.

All things he couldn’t do before we started this diet.


It is amazing to watch the transformation that everyone in our family is going through as we follow the GAPS diet but this week I have been most amazed by my new little boy. He keeps reciting poetry that he has never learned before. Lines and lines of poetry.

He gets to put his stickers on all the poems he can recite perfectly by himself. The last couple weeks he has been passing off poem after poem and he tells them to me at random times of the day. It’s very entertaining.

He started memorizing A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare because his sister is learning the Titania part and he wants to be Oberon.

He just learned to recite Barefoot Boy by John Greenleaf Whittier. It’s over a hundred lines long.

Today he started writing music with a crayon and a notepad. He can’t exactly read or write the English language yet but he asked me to show him how to draw a quarter  rest so it looked just right and he wanted me to explain why some of the note stems are drawn up and some are drawn down.

There is no way to comprehend how difficult it is to have an autistic child (or two or three) unless you have one and there is no way I can explain the huge change that has happened in his personality. Just trust me when I tell you he is not the same person he used to be. I don’t know where this little barefoot boy has been all his life but  I missed him and every day I want to hold him tightly and cry with joy.

Blessings on thee, little man,
Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan!
With thy turned-up pantaloons,
And thy merry whistled tunes;
With thy red lip, redder still
Kissed by strawberries on the hill;
With the sunshine on thy face,
Through thy torn brim’s jaunty grace;
From my heart I give thee joy,—
I was once a barefoot boy!
Prince thou art,—the grown-up man
Only is republican.
Let the million-dollared ride!
Barefoot, trudging at his side,
Thou hast more than he can buy
In the reach of ear and eye,—
Outward sunshine, inward joy:
Blessings on thee, barefoot boy!
Oh for boyhood’s painless play,
Sleep that wakes in laughing day,
Health that mocks the doctor’s rules,
Knowledge never learned of schools,
Of the wild bee’s morning chase,
Of the wild-flower’s time and place,
Flight of fowl and habitude
Of the tenants of the wood;
How the tortoise bears his shell,
How the woodchuck digs his cell,
And the ground-mole sinks his well;
How the robin feeds her young,
How the oriole’s nest is hung;
Where the whitest lilies blow,
Where the freshest berries grow,
Where the ground-nut trails its vine,
Where the wood-grape’s clusters shine;
Of the black wasp’s cunning way,
Mason of his walls of clay,
And the architectural plans
Of gray hornet artisans!
For, eschewing books and tasks,
Nature answers all he asks;
Hand in hand with her he walks,
Face to face with her he talks,
Part and parcel of her joy,—
Blessings on the barefoot boy!
Oh for boyhood’s time of June,
Crowding years in one brief moon,
When all things I heard or saw,
Me, their master, waited for.
I was rich in flowers and trees,
Humming-birds and honey-bees;
For my sport the squirrel played,
Plied the snouted mole his spade;
For my taste the blackberry cone
Purpled over hedge and stone;
Laughed the brook for my delight
Through the day and through the night,
Whispering at the garden wall,
Talked with me from fall to fall;
Mine the sand-rimmed pickerel pond,
Mine the walnut slopes beyond,
Mine, on bending orchard trees,
Apples of Hesperides!
Still as my horizon grew,
Larger grew my riches too;
All the world I saw or knew
Seemed a complex Chinese toy,
Fashioned for a barefoot boy!
Oh for festal dainties spread,
Like my bowl of milk and bread;
Pewter spoon and bowl of wood,
On the door-stone, gray and rude!
O’er me, like a regal tent,
Cloudy-ribbed, the sunset bent,
Purple-curtained, fringed with gold,
Looped in many a wind-swung fold;
While for music came the play
Of the pied frogs’ orchestra;
And, to light the noisy choir,
Lit the fly his lamp of fire.
I was monarch: pomp and joy
Waited on the barefoot boy!
Cheerily, then, my little man,
Live and laugh, as boyhood can!
Though the flinty slopes be hard,
Stubble-speared the new-mown sward,
Every morn shall lead thee through
Fresh baptisms of the dew;
Every evening from thy feet
Shall the cool wind kiss the heat:
All too soon these feet must hide
In the prison cells of pride,
Lose the freedom of the sod,
Like a colt’s for work be shod,
Made to tread the mills of toil,
Up and down in ceaseless moil:
Happy if their track be found
Never on forbidden ground;
Happy if they sink not in
Quick and treacherous sands of sin.
Ah! that thou couldst know thy joy,
Ere it passes, barefoot boy!

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