Not long after the move to the city, Marcia and I realized that we had moved into a neighborhood with all the warmth and charm of a house from “the burbs,” so we loaded up and moved to the suburban west side, which necessitated yet another change in day care; this time to organized preschool, and an environment which included many other children of many different age groups.
Ian’s new preschool was Nanee Learning Center, and he loved everything about it—the kids, teachers, and the environment. Everything was “kid-sized,” right down to the toilets! Classes were small, teachers were great, and it was very comforting dropping him off, knowing that he was safe, academically challenged, and well cared for. He was of course, well behaved, and only occasionally tested the patience of the staff; sometimes leading, sometimes following, but always one of the usual suspects. One of his earliest adventures with his friends was to march through those “kid-sized” toilets in the boy’s restroom in his snow boots!
One day I picked up some newly developed pictures at the local drug store. Out of nowhere, were several blurred, unidentifiable photos, in each of several rolls of film. Finally, a few of the photos were identifiable; a stove top,a package of Hostess Donuts, and blurry boots. . .
It seems that a little someone was pushing a step stool over to the counter, climbing onto the counter— where we kept the Kodak Disc for those cute, special moments, when you have a little guy and need a camera quickly—and was taking pictures of whatever was at hand, or in this case, at foot.
These “snow boots,” were later worn by Ian at Nanee Learning Center, when he, Edgar, and Nicholas marched through the toilets!
This is a photograph that Ian took a few months later. By now he was more comfortable with composition and the elements of visual design, particularly with regard to the selection of subject and background, the arrangement of complementary colors, and the use of proper lighting to capture the mood.
One evening, when Ian was not quite three years old, I was working, so Marcia invited one of her coworkers over to dinner. All evening long, Ian was pretty much oblivious to her visit—that is, until right before she left; and right after she used the restroom prior to leaving. After which, he went into the bathroom, and when he came out, he was very upset. Marching up to our bewildered guest, he shouted, “You can’t come back, ‘cause you didn’t put the lid down, and my cat could drown!” Who says you can’t teach a boy to put the seat down (and the lid to boot)?
“Silence is golden”—unless it involved baby Ian. Early one morning, Ian was in our bedroom and was unusually quiet, so Marcia went in to check on him. She peered around the corner, and found him sitting on our bed with Sasha, who was submissively lying down in front of him. At first, Marcia couldn’t figure out what he was doing.
Before long, however, it became all too clear. Ian was repeatedly pressing something onto Sasha, and then quickly pulling it off; removing along with it, big clumps of hair. Incredibly, she didn’t seem to mind. What could this cleaver hair removal tool be?
Oops, note to self . . . panty liners go up one shelf higher.
Sasha was a good sport, but her patience was not unlimited, nor was her adoration for her “little brother.” As time went on, her behavior became more and more aberrant, and then suddenly she began indiscriminately eating houseplants; only to repeatedly become nauseous and throw up.
It took the vet about a minute to figure out the problem; Sasha was craving attention, and was not dealing well with being rejected. The solution: get another cat, get rid of the cat, or get rid of the kid (just kidding). We opted to find Sasha another home, where she would be number one, and receive the attention she needed, and deserved. So, not long after, she boarded a southbound flight with a friend, and become the first Boswell to move to the Keys, taking up residence with Marcia’s brother Mark, in Key Largo. Ironically, she and Ian would later become close friends when we visited Mark on annual family vacations.
Ian had many books, in complete sets, ranging from Dr. Seuss to Sesame Street. We read to him often, especially at bedtime, and he loved to hear the same stories, over and over. He had every page memorized, and seemed to be able to read a handful of simple words—so much so, that for a time, we actually worked with him on reading simple phrases.
Despite our best efforts, he showed little interest in actually reading; although from time-to-time, he would surprise us with his sudden interest with the written word.
Living in central Indiana in the wintertime, it gets cold. This is especially true when you live in an old, drafty, poorly insulated house with high ceilings, which we did. When Ian was newborn, Marcia and I slept in a waterbed, and he slept beside us in his bassinet. When he would awaken, I would arise, change him, and bring him to Momma, who would nurse him back to sleep.
Obviously the waterbed was very warm, which didn’t take Ian long to figure out. This appreciation continued for the next few years, after we moved to the city, and long after Ian no longer needed changing, or nursing. Even then, he preferred to sleep with us in our bed, rather than in his own. When he turned three, we surprised him with his very own waterbed—the obvious solution to “three’s company.” He loved it, and thought he was the big man on campus. So much so, that he couldn’t wait to show it to all his friends, and Mom and Dad’s.
One evening, my friend Dave and his new girlfriend Chris came over to the house for a visit. Dave had already convinced Ian that he and Ian were “chick magnets.” Now, even when Ian was quite small, he was enamored with the young ladies, and would often flirt with the waitresses from his highchair, so he didn’t need much encouragement. Almost immediately, Ian invited Chris upstairs to his room, to see his birthday present. Uninvited, Dave, Marcia, and I tagged along.
Once in his room, Ian said “See my new waterbed?” Pulling back the comforter, and running his hand across the surface, he said “Here, feel it, it’s warm.” Chris accommodated Ian, agreeing as she touched the bed. He then remarked, “Sit down on it.” Again, much to her chagrin, Chris accommodated his request. Not missing a beat, he said, “Lay back; relax. Can I get you something to drink?”
Nanee had many great staff members; among Ian’s favorites were the Director Sandy, and teachers Diane, Lynn, and Steve. They created a wonderful environment where the children were encouraged and given every opportunity to succeed. They were all well-loved by the kids, and well-respected by the parents. In addition to the full-time staff, other teachers were brought in to handle special subjects. One such teacher, a young woman brought in to teach music, met Ian during one of his “role playing” moments.
Ian loved the television program Knight Rider. He would set mesmerized, glued in front of the TV, every time the show came on. Then on Christmas, Santa brought Ian his very own “Kit” car. From that point on, Ian became Michael Knight. He would speak into his watch, giving commands to Kit, and they would embark on one of their many missions.
The new music teacher began her first class with Ian’s age group with roll call. Two times through, and she was still missing a student named “Ian Boswell.” Out of concern, knowing that all students were supposed to be present in class that day, she went to Ian’s teacher Lynn for assistance. Lynn walked in and pointed to Ian, saying “There he is; that’s Ian Boswell.” To which the music teacher replied, “No, he said his name is Michael Knight.
In 1986, when Ian was three years old, I partnered with a couple of friends in a short-lived company that designed and produced an EMS board game, which we sold via direct mail. In anticipation of a sudden flood of orders, I stopped at the local post office and checked the mail every morning on my way to work at my “real job;” after which, I’d drop Ian off at Nanee Learning Center
On day, late and absent minded, I left the post office and sped down the street headed for Nanee, with Ian riding shotgun. Unfortunately, the new school year had just started, and students were beginning to arrive at the local elementary school; a fact readily pointed out by the nice motorcycle officer running radar. Just as the officer reached my truck to request “license and registration,” Ian, not missing an opportunity to put in his two cents’ worth, sternly remarked, “He wouldn’t have pulled you over, if you hadn’t been drinking all those cokes and beers, and things.”
In Ian’s eyes, he was part gymnast, part Karate Kid. And, although he had been asked on several occasions to play it safe, whenever he had the chance, Ian would practice his “martial arts” skills and gymnastic moves; generally cartwheels and backflips.
Ian’s teachers, Marcia and I, warned him that he would get hurt, but that did little to deter him. Then one day, at the ripe old age of three, he fell backwards on his outstretched left arm, sustaining a bilateral fracture. Did that slow him down?
Not for long. When he was four, he loved to watch the short-lived animated television series, BraveStarr; whose title character was a Native American Galactic Marshall. Marshall BraveStarr would call upon the power of “spirit animals,” who would grant him superpowers. Among these spirit powers was “Speed of the Puma,” which gave him super-speed. Ian imagined himself as BraveStarr, and would sprint down the hall at Nanee, exclaiming, “Speed of the Puma! Speed of the Puma!”
He was regularly admonished to stop running, which he finally did, but only after missing a turn at the end of the hall. He ran headfirst into the wall and struck his forehead, which immediately split open, requiring a trip to the Methodist Hospital ER and over twenty stitches. Fortunately, by now Mom was working as a medical secretary at Indianapolis Neurosurgical in the hospital’s professional building, so she was close by when Ian’s teacher Steve brought him to the ER.
In October, just after he turned four, Marcia held a Tupperware Party at the house and Ian and I needed to lose ourselves for a couple of hours, so we went to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum Haunted House (lights on—for the little kids). After parking the car, we walked down the sidewalk toward the museum. Crossing the street, we came up behind two women; an attractive young lady, and an older, plump woman—who well could have been her mother. Almost immediately, Ian said, “Dad, chicks.” Then, looking up, he said, “You can have the fat one.”
As superheroes go, Ian was a tough as most; using his superhuman powers to wage war on the forces of evil.
Unfortunately, while he remained unfazed by kryptonite, he was vulnerable to the lesser know element, pox (de la chicken), which could only be soothed by the antidote Aveeno, when administered in aqueous form.
In the spring of 1989, Ian graduated from Kindergarten, and with the start of the new school year, “Nanee Days” would come to an end. Ian’s education would continue, at a new school, with new friends, new challenges, and new opportunities. During the intervening months, not much would change at Nanee, with the exception of lots more time at play with good friends, and once again it was time for swim lessons at the Y.
See if you can pick him out.