Rex couldn’t tie his shoes by himself like Hector Pembroke next door or eat all his string beans or pronounce the name of the mailman—Mr. Stanislaus—or say short prayers. Rex thought all of Heavenly Father’s creatures needed to be blessed, and so he blessed all those he could think of—lions, tigers, bears, elephants, skunks, mice, dogs, and cats. Speaking of cats, what four-year-old Rex especially couldn’t do was run as fast as old Percival did every time Rex wanted to hug him!
But Rex didn’t mind all these things he couldn’t do, because sometimes he had a feeling that he could be anything or anybody, anywhere or anytime he wanted. Rex’s stuffed panda, Freddy, knew about his feeling, for Rex told him everything. What It was, Rex wasn’t sure. Did It have a name, he wondered. He couldn’t see It or touch It or smell It. He didn’t know if It was round or square or had any shape at all. It went to bed with him and Freddy and woke up with him in the morning. Rex was sure that something that special just had to have a name! He asked Freddy one night. But Freddy only stared, like he always did.
One day when Rex just couldn’t keep his thoughts to himself any longer, he talked to his mother and asked her if It had a name. Rex’s mother smiled. Then she put down her work and got a pencil and a big piece of paper and wrote down
I - M - A - G - I - N - A - T - I - O - N.
Rex could hardly believe his eyes! That was the biggest word he had ever seen. In fact, it looked and sounded big and strange enough to be a grown-up word. And what’s more, it looked harder to say than Mr. Stanislaus.
After his mother explained what the big word meant, Rex could hardly wait to use his i-m-a-g-i-n-a-t-i-o-n again. First, he imagined that he was Wonderman. He could save the whole world! And he would have if Mother hadn’t told him that the world would have to wait until after his nap to be saved. Rex yawned and nodded. After all, saving the world was no small undertaking, and even a super hero needed his rest.
After his nap Rex helped Dad pull weeds in the corn patch, but he was really Jungleman. The stalks of corn became an African forest. And it was Jungleman who bravely explored its dark depths, ready and alert for danger.
To Rex, an earthworm easily became a large and deadly snake and Percival became a ferocious lion. But even if Rex couldn’t catch Percival (the ferocious lion), he could chase him out of the garden (jungle), leaving his backyard (Africa) peaceful and safe once again.
Sometimes when Rex became tired of saving his friends in the jungle, he put on the green cape Mother made him and turned into Birdman. In less time than it took old Percival to roll over, Rex could make the change, then all at once the grass beneath his feet became the tops of trees far, far below as Birdman flew daringly among the pirate cloud ships that sailed wildly by in the ocean of a blue summer sky.
Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, Rex’s bath water became fierce ocean waves and Rex became the prophet Nephi, who could calm the savage sea.
There were times, though, when Rex put his i-m-a-g-i-n-a-t-i-o-n to rest—happy times when Dad would hold Rex on his lap and tell him about the sun and the moon and the little creatures. He also liked the times mother bandaged his knee if his green cape didn’t work very well and he fell down. Rex enjoyed the special times when he went with his parents to church and got to shake hands with Bishop Berry.
Rex felt important because he was important. His dad and mother often told him that he was the finest boy in the whole world. Then Rex would think, It’s just as much fun to be myself as it is to imagine I’m someone else.