Tag Archives: kindergarten

Losing my wing girl

When my wife and I had kids, people always told us how you would be amazed how quickly boys gravitate towards mom and girls do the same with dad. Yeah right, I thought, I work in sports for a living, my son’s gonna love me.

He does, but he will kick dirt on my shoes and shove me out of his way to get to his mom. Grrr.

Fortunately, since day one, my daughter’s really been a daddy’s girl. Maybe it’s because my schedule is/was flexible enough that it was always me driving her to ballet or gymnastics or soccer. Before her little brother was born, we’d probably spend at least one Saturday or Sunday a month going to the movies together or a zoo while mommy cooled her jets.

But a couple of weeks ago, she turned seven. She’s getting to be more girl by the day. Not in a bad way, but in a way that sort of shuts me out more than I’d care to. It reminds my of a column I wrote about a year ago, just before she started kindergarten.

We have this connection, one that will never go away, but one that is changing. Enjoy.

So my daughter starts kindergarten tomorrow. Chances are pretty good, someone in my house is going to be a blubberin’ mess. Maybe not “Hey, dad, are you ready to walk me down the aisle?” blubberin’ mess, but probably not too far off.
What’s that got to do with sports? Not a whole heck of a lot really, but you’ve got to remember, this kid’s been through the grinder with me.
A few years ago, I was fortunate to have a flexible enough schedule that she was able to go to a lot of events with me. Most weeks in the fall went like this: Girls soccer game on Monday, cross country or field hockey on Tuesday, boys soccer on Wednesday, home Thursday, football on Friday. Other than football, she was with me more than half of the time.
I’d set up my chair behind the goal of the old Danville soccer field, dump out a pile of coloring books and toys and it was game on, for both of us. I would sit and watch the game, she would use markers to make her legs look like rainbows.
On good days the coach’s daughter would come, too. They’d color, talk about life, you know, typical two-year old stuff. Eventually my wife would show up and take her home. I would get yelled at because my kid had 23 different colors on her legs.
Good parent: “You were watching, right?”
Ambivalent parent: “Watching? Watching what? Oh, yeah, I told her to stop.”
That was just the fall. We didn’t do too much in the winter because the games started too late, but the spring, it was more strollers and backpacks and snacks and baseball and track.
Oh, we love track. At the age of two, she wanted nothing more than to be the best long jumper in the world, not a realistic goal when you’re in the 15th percentile in height. When we would come home, she would run in the grass as fast as she could and leap, landing a record-breaking 2 feet, 3 inches away.
She and Danville track coach Jeff Brandt were practically on a first-name basis. If I showed up without her, I would get questioned.
This routine went on for a couple of years until I got my current gig. It was in another town, really put a crimp into our style, but it paid the bills.
So we had to find other interests. If there is a bigger five-year old — sorry, five-and-a-half-year-old — Bucknell basketball fan in the world, I have yet to meet them. She’s got a foam finger, a floating rubber ducky that looks like a basketball and says “Bucknell” on the front of it, a Bucknell T-shirt that almost fits me.
She begs and begs and begs to go to each game. She goes a couple of times a year, which is enough. She got to see Richmond two years ago and now, every time we make the drive on 15 to Lewisburg, she asks if we’re going to see the “Richmond Spiders.”
Every. Single. Time.
I don’t think it’s the basketball though. Just ask her why she likes Bucknell hoops and if the first word out of her mouth isn’t “popcorn” it’s probably “nachos.”
But hey, it’s father-daughter time, which is about to get cut in a big-time way. She’s starting to get “girl” interests, which don’t necessarily translate into “daddy” interests. I went to close her blinds the other day and stepped on four Barbies on the way to the window, which makes me wonder if my four-month old son will ever know about G.I. Joe or He-Man, or will they end up clad in pink, too? I sit down to watch the Phillies for five minutes and it’s “Dad, can you put on Strawberry Shortcake for me?”
I do, because I love her. And five minutes from now, she’ll be heading off to college.


Be who you are and say what you feel

Dr. Seuss had a way with words, even those he made up. To this day I don’t know what a Gertle, a Lorax or a Wocket is. My kids do, which is why their eyes light up when they grab a book.

The older one can read books. The little one can’t. Yet. He tries, but when he reads out loud, it sounds like he has a mouthful of marbles. Hey, it happens when you’re 1.

From those stories they read – and see and feel– come words that fascinate me. All parents are blown away by the things their kids say. Remember in parenting classes, or when your own parents told you to be careful what you say because kids will pick it up? I remember my mom telling me that and trying not to roll my eyes while she was still in the room.

But, alas, mom was right. Again.

So what’s this all to do with Dr. Seuss? Well he once said to “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” That’s sort of a kid mantra even if they don’t know it.

When kids open their mouths and words come out, it draws out so many emotions: Pride, fear, awe, inspiration. They can make us laugh or cry, shudder or howl.

We’ve been lucky (cursed?) with my daughter, who turned 7 this week. She’s been a talker as long as I can remember. My wife has a note somewhere with the date she said her first full sentence. She was 17 months old when she said “This is my not shirt.” Not Shakespeare, but I’d like to read what that dude was saying at 500 days old.

I remember Christmas shopping with her a month or so after her second birthday. She was talking like a monkey in a tree about wanting to buy this for mom, and this for pappy. Some gentleman in the store walked over and asked how old she was. I told him and he was sort of stunned. “Good luck with that one,” he said as he walked away chuckling.

That’s how it’s been with her. She says things that amaze me, just like your kids probably do. It’s not always correct, but she knows what she means and it is often up to us to figure it out. Last winter, during one of the rare snow storms we got in Central Pennsylvania, she had to get all decked out in her “inflated underwear” to stay warm. I got it, I laughed at the mistake. She cried because she thought I was making fun of her (So much like her mom it drives me nuts!).

Off the top of my head, I can still remember some of the great one-liners she has said. To this day, my all-time favorite – and one that could hold the top spot for a long time – came after the first couple of days of kindergarten last fall. As her brother sat in his high-chair to eat dinner, she dropped her fork on her plate, looked him right in the eyes and said “Brant, life gets harder when you get older. Just wait until you start kindergarten!”

The day at Disney World, where we to see the Fairies, and before we could go in, they had to “shrink” us so we were the size of the fairies. “Dad, they’re gonna be able to make us big again, right?” Her concerns, fortunately, were unwarranted.

Rosetta, Maren and Mommy

Sometimes they embarrass us. Kids don’t yet have that filter adults have learned, about what to say out loud and what “say” in your head. This summer my daughter traveled with me to cover a game for the newspaper I work for. I was covering one team (dressed in orange) against another team (in purple) at a state tournament on the other end of the state. We were going to make a weekend of it, stay in a hotel, return the next day unless we needed to stay longer if they should win (which I didn’t want to have happen). So we are sitting amidst all the fans when my wife calls, I give my phone to my daughter and she says, as loud as she possibly can, “Right now the team in orange is winning, but Daddy wants the purple team to win so we can go home.” No hole was deep enough for me.

So we all know kids say the darndest things. What are some of the best one-liners your kids have said?