Smelly Socks/City Life: The citified cowboy

June 28, 2012 at 1:28 a.m.

Constructing a ranch in the dirt.

Constructing a ranch in the dirt.

We live in this great Metropolis known as Chicago. We have Lake Michigan, O'Hare Airport and The Magnificent Mile. We have famous politicians (Barack Obama and Rahm Emmanuel) and infamous politicians (Ex-Governors Rod Blagojevich and George Ryan) who sure know how to make the news locally and nationally.

Our city is known for its diverse culture, its musical history (blues and punk), and its wonderful ethnic and five-star restaurants. Yes, I am going somewhere with this.

So when I ask Adam, my 5-year-old, what he wants to be when he grows up, his answer is always the same: I want to be a cowboy and live on a ranch in Texas.

Yes, I realize that he's only 5, but this is one young man determined to be a cowboy when he grows up. Like many little men, he's gone through the phases of being an ambulance driver, a fireman, a farmer and, my personal favorite, a doctor/policeman/cowboy all at the same time. If he accomplishes that last one, he'll make me a very proud Mama.

It all started last spring, when I took him with me to see blogger Ree Drummond, who writes the very popular blog "The Pioneer Woman." She was doing a book signing in our area for her new children's book.

I wanted to meet her and have her sign my book and he came along for the ride. When I explained to him how and where she lived and showed him her blog, and the pictures of her kids and husband on the ranch, that was it.

It was from then on that he decided to don the Stetson cowboy hat that Johanna's mother had bought him when he was born. But it didn't stop there.

For his birthday last year, he asked for cowboy boots and a belt with a buckle. That, along with the hat, checkered shirt and jeans, was his uniform of choice for the rest of the summer and fall. And I say uniform because he wore the darn ensemble every single day for almost a year.

He wore it to school, to the grocery store and to the park. We had some unusually hot days last summer, but instead of wearing shorts and T-shirts, Adam, every morning, would put on his checkered shirt, jeans, boots and cowboy hat while playing outside and designing his "ranch."

Every day, he'd be outside in the hot, sweltering sun with his jeans and Stetson, constructing a ranch in the dirt and mulch in our backyard. He used his Bass Pro trucks, Lego Duplo people and animals, and rocks and sticks he'd find laying around to make fences and roads.

When one particular scene he constructed showed a mama, a papa and five children, I asked him why there were so many kids. He answered "The rancher needs a lot of kids so that they can help him on the ranch."

I know some of you are thinking that this is a fleeting thing, children change their ideas of what they want to be when they grow up a million times over, but with this one, I'm not so sure he'll change.

Of course, he doesn't understand the real work that is involved in running a working ranch, but to his credit, he is still carrying on the dream of being a cowboy and maybe, one day, I'll be visiting his ranch in Texas.

Anita lives in Chicagoland with her husband, two boys and two dogs one of which is a girl. Email Johanna Bloom or Anita Spisak at



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