You’re old … er

Last week while cooped up inside a tiny lakeside cabin, another day of steady rain, I sat facing my daughter, a game of Battleship between us.

She was on an unprecedented streak. Eight wins in a row. After she learned it took a couple of minutes for me to find her ships when they were always in the corner, she became very good.

As we prepared for another sea battle, she peaks over the top of the “screen” and says, “you know why I can confuse you so easily, Dad? Cuz you’re old.”


You’re old. And bald.

Um, okay.

“Er,” she then says quickly realizing my feelings were likely hurt. “You’re old-er. Like older than Brant and I.”

I think it was supposed to make me feel better. It did, I think.

Sometimes I physically feel old. I’m to the point where if I go play basketball or tennis or softball, I just take Advil before I go because it saves time later.

Sometimes I just feel old. Like this week, when conversation in the office tilted toward the TWA Flight 800 crash and we started talking about where we were when we heard the news. Many of us were in newsrooms, some in the same newsroom we still were in. Then the baby of the news department, a photog, says “I don’t remember because I was six.”

We all hate her now.

Hard knock life

I’ve been told numerous times already by my 7-year-old daughter than I don’t love her, or she doesn’t love me, or that I’m a stinky-head. She’s got it rough, she thinks she does.

Like most kids, she’s got a lot of stuff. Markers, crayons, books, butterflies, stuffed animals (covering just about every species). It’s like the Loudon Wainwright song says, “Everything she sees, she wants. Everything she wants, I see she gets.”

She has done more things at this point in her life than I did before I was 30. Everybody wants their kids to have a better life and she’s on her way, although my life gets better every day as I watch my kids do more stuff, learn more stuff and become more stuff.

But, I have to admit, this week was pretty rough.

Last week she was able to win the spelling bee in her first-grade class. She was lucky because the girl she beat spelled “again” wrong. I asked her how to spell it and she said A-G-I-A-N. That put her against the other first-grade winners this week, so she spent the part of the weekend practicing. The night before the spelling bee, which was on a stage in front of all the first-graders, we went over words for more than hour. The only word she missed was “elephant” and the only reason I gave her that was so she would miss one.

We stopped when I asked her to spell “where” and she asked “wear like the clothes you wear? Or where like where are we going?”

The day of the spelling bee I raced home from work to find out how she made out. From the steps I could hear crying, so I knew it wasn’t going to be good.

Poor kid spelled the first word wrong. The word was “did” she heard “digged” and spelled that. She later shook her head incredously, “dad, digged isn’t even a word!”

But that wasn’t the worst of it. She said one of her friends told her she let the whole class down. “Who am I going to eat lunch with now?” she said wiping tears away, “Who am I going to play with at recess?”

All you can do is hug ’em. The next day everything was back to normal as if nothing happened. Kids are resilient. The sting is gone.

Kids of a different feather

I’m the older sibling, as is my wife, so to be honest I don’t know a ton about the so-called “middle child syndrome.” But this week the Huffington Post had a short post with a photo of three siblings. The oldest is lovingly looking into the youngest’s eyes while the middle child, who was the baby of the family until about a five minutes ago, zones out.

The picture is very familiar to me. Well, minus the middle child. We have one of our kids and it is one of my favorite pics. Maren is holding Brant, who is probably about 4 days old. It was taken moments after we brought him home for the first time.


     Does he have teeth? has a story on middle child syndrome which “helps explain how birth order affects every aspect of a child’s life. Wondering what your middle child may be experiencing, or how to possibly counteract any negativity caused from being a middle child?”

It’s a neat story, talking about how the middle child can sometimes feel left out, yet can also be the most outgoing at the same time. It can also lead to some rebelliousness. It’s a cool read.

I do find it fascinating how different kids, raised by the same people in same house and with the same values can be so different. It really is all about personality and that is completely a person-to-person deal (I guess the reason it’s ‘person’ ality and not ‘everbody’ ality) In our house we see the big boy/girl difference and to be honest it is very shocking. We have plenty of friends who told us if they had a boy first they would not have had a second child. Brant is more difficult to deal with than Maren, sure. He’s a bit more hot-headed and stubborn. Brant is a bit sensitive – he did run and hide under the table this weekend when I was going to put him in timeout after he smashed his sister in the head with a toy drill – but he’s not the same sensitive as Maren.

Maren has some bounce-backability, but if she doesn’t get her way there will be two outcomes: Someone is getting an earful (me) or someone is going to slam a door while crying on the other side (her). Where this comes from, I don’t know. (Actually, I do, but I will not discuss it further)

But I guess it depends on what the situation is. Brant will cry if Maren takes a toy from him. Maren will let Brant play with Barbies until he’s blue in the face, but if he touches one of her books, it’s on.

So all I know is my kids are different from each other, but they are also very similar. I’m cool with that.


This is cool, right?

Over the weekend the kids were playing quietly in the girl’s room. That’s a dead giveaway that they are probably doing something wrong.

So I poke my head in there to see what’s going on. Maren is sitting their cutting pieces of paper into a million tiny pieces (which her mom will clean up a day later). In the corner is little Brant.

Playing by himself.

With dolls.

And a dollhouse.

I played with dolls when I was a kid. But we didn’t call them dolls, we called them G.I. Joe’s or He-Man or Macho Man Action Figures. We called them that because we’re boys and boys don’t play with dolls.

Last night he was all over the place with a pair of Buzz Lightyear toys, so everything’s back to normal. Then this morning, after I got him out of bed, I walked back in and he had a pile dolls, beds, etc. putting them all “night-night.”


Night-Night, baby dolls.

He offset the dolls with a Pirate t-shirt and a Lightning McQueen slipper that doubled as a bed. Still, when I get home today, I’m going to switch all the dolls out for Buzz and Woody and Lightning. I bet I can fit Finn McMissile in that crib, right?

Countdown is on…

“Dad, when is Brant gonna be able to go to the movies with us?” Maren asks once in a while.

Probably not for a while, he’s only 2, I tell her. I don’t tell her it’s tough enough to sit through a movie with a 7-year-old.

Monsters University is coming to a theater near us soon, so that’s probably next in line of films Maren and I will go see. I actually don’t remember the last time I saw a film in a theater with an actual real person in it. Such in the life of a parent.

But then I saw the above preview for Disney’s new Planes movie, out in August. It might be the one we have to take Brant to. He wears out Cars and Cars 2. He has probably seen each of them about 200 times, maybe more, and is certainly an offshoot of that.

Not only that, he digs planes. Maybe not as much as cars, but he loves them. Last summer we spent a weekend with friends in New Jersey. We took the kids to a playground which just happened to be directly along the flight pattern for Newark’s airport. Every minute or so for an hour a plane would fly overhead and every single time it did Brant would point up and yell “plane!”

So the countdown to August 9 is on.


Since I work at a newspaper we have a ton of them lying around the house. Once in a while my daughter will pick one up to look at and the first thing she glances at is the “question of the day.” It’s a spot where more often than not kids answer a question like “What is your favorite snack food?” or “Why do you love your mom?”

Every once in a while (about once a week), Maren asks why she is never in the paper. The last time was actually the day before three of her best friends’ were featured, which poured a little gas on the fire.


Can you put me in the paper?

So for about a week, every day I get the same thing: Dad, when am I gonna be in the paper?

Probably never.


Because you’re cursed, honey? You can’t have your picture in the paper because Daddy works at the paper. If your photo is in there, I’m gonna get a hundred phone calls. I ain’t got no time for that.


Like I said, it’s just bad luck.

Holding in tears, she says “is that why I can’t enter the Halloween or Christmas coloring contests either?”

Yes, I say, stroking her hair.

“Well, that stinks.”

Scary Potter

We have talked a lot about Brant’s every expanding vocabulary and it has improved so much we can actually have a conversation. Well, as much of a normal conversation as you can have with a 2-year old who drops face-first to the floor crying if you don’t get the right mix of Kix and Reese’s Puffs together for his snack.


Baby Brant.

He likes to point things out and for the most part is pretty good at saying what they are. He knows motorcycle and bicycle (although he uses them interchangeably), copter, pains (planes), bus, big truck, Meeeekey Mouse and more.

Brant also knows Buzz Lightyear, but I think he’s confused on what Buzz says. “To da sky,” Brant says when playing with Buzz. I tell him that is Woody’s line, Buzz says “To infinity and beyond!” He looks at me, cries, and we move onto next thing.

The best Brant-ism in the world came via Mrs. Bowman (Happy Birthday!) to her Facebook peeps last night: “The world according to Brant: ‘Scary Potter’ is the book his dad and sister read at bedtime.”

Each night I crash on one end of my daughter’s bed and we read some Harry Potter. Brant has watched about 2 minutes of the first movie and knows it’s scary. But so are George Washington and Thomas Jefferson on Biography. He doesn’t say “scary” quite correctly, however. It comes out as S-car-ee, not S-care-ee. So when he walks in and sees us reading the book, he gets a frown, points and asks “Scary Potter?” Yep, want to come up and read with Daddy and Maren? “No, too scary. Scary Potter too scary.”

He’s sticking to Elmo and Clifford books for now. There not quite so scary.