Rodeo Ryan The other day I watched Ryan repeatedly run around the house with one arm in the air and then fall down. He did this over and over again. After a while I had to ask him what he was doing. He told me he was riding like the cowboys we had recently seen at a rodeo. I guess the bronc and bull riding made an impression with him.
The Flyswatter I was in the shop the other night when Ryan came in and began playing in the adjoining greenhouse. He likes to stack pots and dig in the gravel. On this particular night I heard what sounded like him climbing around. I decided I would check up on him. I found him standing on a shelf facing a window. He had managed to get a shovel raised above his head and was about to hit the window. I yelled for him to stop and asked what he was doing. He matter-of-factly told me he was going to swat that moth in the window. I took the shovel and showed him where the flyswatter was kept.
Porch Jumping I was sitting on the front porch the other night when Ryan rode up on his bike and proceeded to drag it up the porch steps. I asked him what he was doing and he said he wanted to ride it off the end of the porch (a 2' drop). I told him I didn't think that was a good idea considering the size of the drop. He assured me it would be okay and started getting ready to make the big jump. Being the wise father that I am I realized that this was one of those times when personal experience would be the most effective teacher. I figured if I stopped him now he would try it later when I wasn't around. I sat back and told him to jump off the end of the porch where there is grass and not concrete. I'm not completely negligent. He sat there a moment sizing up the situation then started pedaling for the edge. I cringed. He never slowed down. Unfortunately, he never got going very fast either. The front wheel dropped straight down, hit the grass, and stopped. The rest of the bike and Ryan kept going sending him over the handlebars Evil Kinevil style. He did a bellyflop/faceplant in the grass just before the seat of the bike hit him in the back of the head. He ended up spread-eagle on the ground with the bike on top of him. I got up to survey the damage. He let out a long groan as I untangled him from the bike. I helped him up and dusted him off. No blood. Nothing broken. He grinned, jumped on his bike, and rode away apparently no worse for the experience. I don't think he will be jumping off the porch anymore, although later I saw him standing on the seat of his bike as he rode down the driveway. I told him to do that on the grass. . . . just in case.
The Great Toad Collector Ryan has a new hobby - toad collecting. It seems our yard has a lot of toads. All sizes too. Some are as big as my hand and others are no larger than my thumb. Ryan collects them in a 5-gallon bucket. He likes to fill the bucket with water and stir them around with a stick. You might call it Toad-soup. Sometimes he puts both hands down in the bucket and picks up as many as he can at one time. With toad parts sticking out from between his fingers and juice running down to his elbows (don’t ask where toad juice comes from) he proudly tells anyone willing to listen about his prized pets. He’ll let you hold one too - if you don’t mind the juice. I instigate a toad break every few days by tipping the bucket over when the great collector isn’t around. They hop off for parts unknown because they sense that it won’t be long before they’re back in the bucket being stirred and squeezed.
Keeping Clean in the Mud Last night I was in the shop when Ryan came and asked me if he could turn the water hose on and play in the garden. He likes to push his toy trucks around in the mud, make rivers and dams etc. I usually let him, but at the time I really didn’t feel like cleaning him up. I told him that I didn’t want him to get his clothes muddy and that maybe he could some other time. He insisted that he could play in the mud without getting his clothes muddy. (Please, please, please) I said okay, but warned him there better not be any mud on his clothes.
He ran off to the garden and I went back to work in the shop. A little while later I walked out to the garden fully expecting to see Ryan in muddy clothes. Sure enough, Ryan was sitting in a mud-hole, water-hose in hand, covered from head to toe with black muck. His clothes however, ALL his clothes, were sitting in a neat little pile in the grass.
Why DO Airplanes Fly? Ryan asked me, “Why do airplanes fly?”
“What?” I said, stopping what I’m doing. I hadn’t been listening.
"Why do airplanes fly?” he repeated.
I gave him the straightforward answer, “So people can go places.” He didn’t like the answer.
“No, WHY do airplanes fly?” he asked again.
This time I gave him the more-information-than-he-can-handle answer. Demonstrating the cross-section of a wing with my hand I explained, “The shape of their wings create a low pressure area as the plane moves through the air. This vacuum lifts the wing and keeps the plane in the air.”
He frowned. In a very slow and deliberate voice, as if I was the 3 year old, he asked me again, “ But W H Y do airplanes fly?”
I knew my credibility as the all-knowing-father was wearing thin. What good is a dad that doesn’t know why an airplane flies. In a last ditch effort I suggested, “Because they like to.” I smiled and hoped for the best.
He just looked at me and said “Oh”. I couldn't tell if he was satisfied with that answer or just figured there wasn't any point in asking me again. I found out soon enough.
In the library the next day Ryan asked Marisa if he could check out a book on airplanes. His reason -- “Daddy didn’t know why they fly!” So much for the all-knowing father role.
The Remote Thief If I’m watching a ballgame or some equally important TV program I might not hear Ryan the first time (or second time) he says something to me. A 3-year-old who talks all the time sometimes blends in with the background noise. Actually he is the background noise. Ryan has developed a sure-fire plan for getting my attention. He swipes the remote, turns off the TV, and then hides it. The on/off switch on the TV is broken so he now has my full attention. I need that remote. He usually hides it in the dryer or Cole’s bed so it isn’t too hard to find. At times he has been a little more creative. Once he hid it beneath the return air vent under the floor. Fortunately I’ve learned to adapt to his raids. Now I lay on top of the remote when I’m watching TV. It’s a little uncomfortable and it is inconvenient when you want to change channels, but it beats getting up and going to the dryer.
Norman Rockwell and Food Missiles The other night the four of us were sitting around the table eating supper. It was a nice and peaceful family meal. We could almost have been in a Norman Rockwell painting. Suddenly, the idyllic meal was interrupted by Ryan tilting his head back and launching a food missile that gracefully arched its way over the table, and into Marisa’s lap. In disgust, Marisa demanded, “Ryan what are you doing?” Ryan, with his best impersonation of an angel, looked at her as if he had no idea how that chunk of food ended up in her lap. He even had the nerve to lean over the table to see just exactly what she was talking about. I thought the whole thing was pretty funny myself, although I dared not laugh out loud (not for fear of encouraging Ryan but because Marisa looked like she wanted to belt someone). It was probably a good thing Norman Rockwell wasn’t there.
Westling One of Ryan’s favorite activities is westling. That’s right westling (he hasn't mastered the “r” sound yet). Ryan’s wrestling style is heavily influenced by the movie “The Lion King”. This means there is a lot of roaring, clawing, and pouncing mixed in with the occasional knee drop and flying elbow. I don’t know where he gets those non-Lion King moves. Maybe he has been watching his mom. Anyway, I usually get a “let’s westle” warning before an actual attack begins, but the other night the “Lion King” came flying over the couch without warning landing with his knees in my stomach. He clawed and roared in triumph as I tried to catch my breath. Thankfully, another more lively victim caught his attention when Marisa walked by. He chased her to the kitchen. As I laid there in agony I could hear Marisa in the saying “Ryan why don’t you go jump on your Dad.”
Ladybug Lunch Ryan and I were outside the other day when I heard him yell, “Daddy Daddy look what I found!” I walked over and he showed me a ladybug crawling on his hand. I told him that was a ladybug and that we like ladybugs because they eat aphids. I was about to explain why aphids were bad when he popped the ladybug in his mouth and ate it. When I
asked him why he ate the ladybug he said they taste like peanut butter
and apricots. I couldn’t really argue with him. Now, if I could just train him to eat the aphids . . .
Something to Chew On Cole is just learning to crawl. As a good mom Marisa feels an obligation to capture every other moment on video. The other day she decided it was time to film “Cole Crawling”. In order to do this you have to give Cole a reason to crawl - something he is willing to crawl to. A glossy page out of a magazine works great. She set Cole up in the middle of the floor and put the paper about 3 feet in front of him. With eyes fixed firmly on the prize, a little drool dripping down from the excitement, he took his first crawling steps to the paper. Finally, on the edge of exhaustion, he made one final lunge for the prize. Just then Ryan, the helpful big brother, moved the paper another 3 feet. Undeterred Cole set out again for the paper. And so it went, Cole crawling, Ryan moving the paper, and Marisa filming. This happened several times before Marisa felt she had enough footage for posterity. Feeling sorry for Cole I went ahead and let him have a good chew on the paper. A few minutes later I had him pinned on the floor with my little finger stuck in his mouth digging out a chunk of soggy paper. I still remember the disgusted look on his face as I was fishing around in his mouth. He looked like he wanted to say, "If you knew this was going to happen why did you give me the paper?"
Cole’s Standing Dilemma I was in the kitchen recently when I heard Cole (6 ½ months old now) let out his “somebody come and get me out of this mess” cry. I assumed he had got his head stuck under the couch again or maybe Ryan was sitting on him. I found him standing in the living room holding on to the couch. Ryan was nowhere in sight. I picked him up, looked him over, and sat him back down on the floor. He stopped crying and seemed to be fine. Ten minutes later he was crying again. I found him, tears in his eyes, standing up holding on to a chair with a helpless look on his face. It then occurred to me he had mastered pulling up and standing, but he didn’t know how to sit down back down. To help him out I put a pillow behind him and left him to teach himself how to sit. As cruel as it sounds he has to learn sometime. I’m also counting on 6 month olds not holding a grudge. I can just see him someday teaching me to use my new walker. “Here Dad, hold on right here. Be careful those stairs can be pretty tricky. Say Dad, do you remember that time you . . .”
Recycled Computer I recently came home from work and found Ryan sitting at the computer. This isn’t unusual because we have some simple games installed that he likes to play. He has become proficient enough that once we get him started he often plays unsupervised. Out of curiosity, I stopped and asked him what he was playing. To my surprise, he proudly demonstrated how he could drag icons to the trashcan (recycle bin on Win95) and drop them off. He even knew to click the “yes” button when asked if you are sure you want to delete. Gee, what a great game! The computer hasn’t been the same since.
The Dorky Astronaut Marisa recently bought Ryan some face paints. Marisa, being the good mother that she is, subjected herself to be his first subject (victim). No sooner had Ryan painted her up as an astronaut than the doorbell rang. Marisa, her face completely covered with paint, went to the door and found a book salesman who promptly broke out in laughter. Marisa tried to tell him that she and Ryan had been face painting. The salesmen apologized for laughing and then explained, “You just look like a dork. (not the smartest salesmen)” Ryan, who was standing behind his mom, was quick to defend her, “She’s not a dork she’s an astronaut!”
Why I Want to Grow Up Ryan recently volunteered 5 reasons why he wanted to grow up. Here they are in no particular order:
1. To drive a pizza truck real fast.
2. To get lots of gum out of Mom’s purse without asking.
3. To be really tall so he wouldn’t have to look up all the time.
4. To get his own food whenever he wants.
And finally . . .
5. To be able to thump Cole on the head and not get in trouble.
I guess that would make him a very large and reckless pizza-delivery guy that likes to chew gum and thump little kids. Maybe we should work on setting some goals.
Hard to Explain I was holding Cole recently when Ryan walked in and asked me if I knew what hard was. Curious yet suspicious, I said no and held Cole a little closer. Ryan promptly laid down on his back, raised his head up, and banged it in down onto the hardwood floor with a thump. He then jumped up, smiled, and said with a definitive voice, “That is hard!” I have no idea why he felt I needed the explanation. I’m not even sure if he was talking about his head or the floor. The 3 year old mind works in mysterious ways. I’m just glad he didn’t ask me if I knew what sharp was.
Where’s Ryan? I've noticed that Cole always keeps a nervous eye on Ryan. No matter what is going on you can bet that Cole knows the second Ryan enters the room and where he is at all times. It could be because watching Ryan is entertaining. After all, he is always jumping off something or running around in circles making noise. However, I suspect it is because of Ryan's habit of imitating a Lion. Ryan seems to have a primal urge to sneak up on Cole and roar at the top of his lungs (as human parents, Marisa and I discourage this behavior). Needless to say, Cole doesn't like it much either.
If You Can’t Spray ‘em . . . Ryan came in the house the other day and told Marisa there were ants on the back porch and she needed to spray them. He was tired of stomping them. Marisa told him not to worry about the ants. Ryan went back outside. A few minutes later Marisa heard him screaming. She rushed outside and found Ryan on his hands and knees in the middle of the ants. She asked him what was wrong. “I’m scaring the ants of the porch” he replied matter-of-factly.
HeadBall Ryan has invented a new game that I really enjoy. The game starts off with me laying on the couch. He then brings me a ball, turns around, and runs as fast as he can out of the room. Just before he rounds the corner I throw the ball and hit him in the back of the head. He laughs and then spends several minutes looking for the ball while I wait for him on the couch. When he finally finds it he brings it back and we repeat the process. The game provides great exercise, for him anyway, and it allows us to spend quality father/son time together. And in case your wondering, he has yet to ask me to run while he throws the ball.
She’s Not Fast Marisa and Ryan were walking out of the store the other day when a little girl ran by Ryan. Without hesitating, Ryan sprinted after her, caught her, and passed her. He then stopped, walked back, and with a smug voice told Marisa, “She’s not fast.”
Tyrannosaurus Wreck Well it finally happened. I made my first run to the Urgent Care Center with Ryan. I suppose it was just a matter of time until I experienced this parental right of passage. Surprisingly, the trip wasn’t a result of Ryan crashing his bike, jumping out of a tree, or sticking something toxic up his nose. All he did was fall out of bed. Actually, Ryan claimed Tyrannosaurus Rex yanked him out of bed and repeatedly jumped on him. Whatever the case, it resulted in a broken collarbone. I’m just glad he didn’t tell the dinosaur tale to the doctor at the ER. I can just see myself trying to explain that one to a social worker. Anyway, Ryan is wearing a shoulder brace now and we have started taking anti-Tyrannosaurus measures at night to keep him from being yanked out of bed and stomped again.
Mr. Innocent I was Mr. Mom last Saturday while Marisa was away. At one point in the day I picked Cole up and told Ryan, who was sitting on the couch, that I was going to go put Cole down for his nap. Ryan said okay and smiled innocently. I wasn’t in Cole’s bedroom for more than minute when I heard climbing noises in the kitchen. Suspicious, I picked Cole up and walked into the kitchen. No one was there. I called Ryan’s name – no answer. I walked into the living room and called his name – still no answer. I was about to look outside when a wide-eyed chocolate smeared face popped up from behind the couch. I asked Ryan what he was doing behind the couch. He just stared at me. He couldn’t actually answer because of the huge amount of chocolate crammed in his mouth. He was so guilty looking I almost laughed. I still wonder how he managed to scale the kitchen cabinets (with a broken collarbone), unwrap 2 candy bars, run to the living room, stuff them in his mouth, and hide the evidence all in less than 2 minutes.
Father Knows Best? Ryan called me at work today. He had a question, “Is Stegasaurus related to Ankylosaurus?” A little taken back I told him that I thought they were. They are both dinosaurs. After a brief pause he replied, “No, I don’t think they are – good bye Dad”. It seems like he might have skipped the stage where he is supposed to believe everything I tell him.
Dog-boy I was sitting in the living room recently when I heard a growling sound coming from the hallway. It wasn’t long before Ryan appeared pulling a blanket with Cole attached to the other end. Cole was hanging on to the blanket with his mouth and both hands as Ryan dragged him across the living room, through a pile of toys, and over the rug. Cole was growling the entire way. “He’s like a dog Dad!” Ryan yelled enthusiastically as he passed through the living room on his way to the kitchen. I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of games they’ll would be playing when they are 16 and 18 and weigh 180 lbs a piece.
Wacker-tail Elk Ryan wanted me to help him paint a picture the other night. Pleased that he wanted my help, we sat down side-by-side and got started. I painted a tree on my paper and then he painted a tree on his paper. I painted apples on my tree and then he painted apples on his tree etc. After some grass, the sun, and flowers, I noticed his painting was turning out pretty well. In fact, it was quite good. I was anxious to get it away from him before he messed it up, but before Ryan would let me have it he wanted to paint an elk under the apple tree. I told him that elk were difficult to paint and suggested we stop where we were. He insisted on painting the elk. Surprisingly, his elk turned out okay. There was a recognizable body, legs, a neck, and head. Relieved, I was just about to snatch the painting for refrigerator mounting when he attached to the elk a long purple tail with a ball on the end. Disappointed, I stared at the painting and asked him why he put a long purple tail on his elk. “It’s a wacker-tail Dad!” he said enthusiastically (A “wacker-tail” is what Ryan calls the type of tail found on certain dinosaurs that was used to “wack” other dinosaurs). Shaking my head I reminded him that elk don't have wacker-tails. He looked at me, smiled, and asked, “Are we painting an elk?”
Timing We recently attended a good friend’s wedding and decided to allow Ryan to attend the ceremony. With the exception of sticking his fingers in his ears and acting as if he was in pain during one of the solos, he behaved himself pretty well. At the end of the service the preacher presented the bride and groom to the congregation, the music started, and just as the happy couple were about to go down the aisle Ryan stood up and asked in a rather loud voice, “Is she going to have a baby now?”
Vietnamese Pot-Bellied T-Rex For Halloween, Ryan was a Vietnamese Pot-Bellied T-Rex, at least that is what he reminded me of. Marisa made his costume. Cole, who was a bumblebee, was initially terrified of Ryan. Ryan repeatedly trying to stuff Cole in his giant T-Rex mouth didn’t help matters. After being told not to chew on his brother, Ryan concentrated his attention on trying to convince other kids to put their heads in his mouth. He didn’t have many takers.
Rio Amarillo It doesn’t rain often in West Texas. Ryan, a lifelong West Texan, brought this fact to my attention recently. We were in the car after a heavy rain when Ryan, noticing the water running off a parking lot, asked me, “Is that a river?” I told him no, that was just water running off a parking lot. “Oh,” he said, “Rivers are only in streets - right?”
It is Only Logical We recently took a long trip in the car. In preparation, we got the kids fed, watered, drained, changed, buckled in, clamped down, and generally immobilized. Our next goal as sane adults was to get them to sleep. Every parent instinctively knows that an unconscious child is a happy child. I tried to get Ryan to go to take a nap by promising him that the trip would be shorter if he went to sleep. Ryan thought about it and then asked if it wouldn’t be even faster if Cole and Mom went to sleep as well. I guess his assumption was the more people asleep the faster the car goes. Hmmm, using that logic maybe we should pick up a couple sleepy looking hitchhikers and strap them to the top of the car – we would be there in no time.
Salivation Revelation I was bent over the tub the other night trying to catch "Cole the Fish" when Ryan walked up behind me and said, “Uh-oh Dad”. Having finally snared an ankle I turned around to see what Ryan had done while Cole thrashed about in the tub. Ryan was holding a great big hand full of spit. “It’s saliva Dad, it goes in your mouth” Ryan solemnly informed me as he thoughtfully stared into his hand. I almost asked the obvious question, "Why are you carrying a handful of spit around the house?" However, not really wanting to know the answer I told him to get rid of the "saliva" and then wash his hands. Being an obedient child, he immediately put the saliva back in his mouth and headed for the sink to wash his hands.
Skipper After work the other day Ryan was eager to show me something new that Marisa had taught him. Holding Cole, I stopped in the doorway as he ran to the middle of the kitchen floor and said, “Watch this!” Now as a father, there are certain things that you hope you never see your sons do – this was one of them. I watched with horror as he began to daintily skip about the kitchen. Thinking fast, I covered Cole’s eyes and then distracted Ryan with a football. Turning to Marisa, who was watching proudly, I attempted to explain the grave dangers inherit in little boys learning to skip. She just laughed at me and told Ryan, “Show Dad how you can yodel.”
But did You floss? I was in the kitchen the other night when I heard a loud crash followed by crying in the back of the house. In the bathroom I found Ryan lying on his back with a toothbrush in one hand and a big green plastic dinosaur in the other. There was toothpaste and slobber all other both of them. After checking for blood and broken bones I asked him what happened.
“I fell off the sink” he sobbed.
“What were you doing on the sink?” I asked.
“Brushing my Dinosaur’s teeth” he explained.
Jailbreak Marisa walked into Cole’s room the other day and found Ryan “helping” Cole get out of his baby bed after his nap. Ryan, standing on a stool he had pulled up next to the bed, had Cole in a headlock dragging him over the top rail. Cole, who you’d expect to be howling in protest, was actually an accomplice in the breakout -- willing to endure a little neck stretching to get out the bed early.
Carnivorous Space Rocks Last night I was discussing dinosaurs with Ryan when the subject turned to the difference between meat-eaters and plant-eaters. I was in the middle of a brilliant explanation when he stopped me and asked, “Do rocks in outer space eat meat?” Now most people would be taken back by such a question, but not me. Without hesitation I told him rocks don’t eat and continued assuming that I had avoided any confusing conversation about carnivorous rocks. A few seconds later he interrupted again, “Rocks floating in space don’t have mouths do they?” I told him no. “Then how can they be meat-eaters?” he asked. Meteors, . . meat-eaters -- it took me a minute too.
Jupiter! Ryan is loud. Marisa and I often have to gently remind him to speak instead of yell. This approach has had limited success, so recently I’ve tried a different approach. I just yell an answer. For example, I was recently in the front yard when Ryan walked up and in an unusually loud voice asked which planet is the biggest. I wonder what the neighbors think when they see me standing in the middle of the front yard screaming, “Jupiter!”
Watch Out For That . . . Ryan was getting his bicycle out of the garage yesterday when I noticed that the training wheels were worn out and about to fall off. I decided to take them off and see if he could ride without them. I took them off and helped him on his bike. After running along beside him holding the handlebars I decided he was ready to try it on his own. Realizing that Marisa likes to capture “firsts” on video, I went in the house and told her Ryan was about to make his first attempt at a bike ride without training wheels. She hurriedly came out with the video camera and got in position for the big moment. Ryan got on his bike while I steadied him and gave some final words of advice. I pointed him toward a grassy expanse of yard, gave him a push and yelled, “Its all yours!” Ryan rode triumphantly out across the yard - everyone cheered.
Ryan yelled back in excitement, “I doing it, I’m doing it!” and then WHAM! Ryan’s inaugural bike ride, captured forever by video, ended in a tangle of boy and bike at the base of the only tree within 20 feet of him. Like a moth drawn to a flame he just couldn’t help but zero in on that trunk. But it was a good ride while it lasted.
Hit and Run I sometimes worry about Cole’s passive nature and how much abuse he takes from Ryan. Recently though, Cole has begun coming into his own. The other night he walked into the living room where Ryan was watching TV. Cole was holding a hard plastic hammer. He looked at the hammer and then he looked at Ryan. He then walked up behind Ryan, looked at the hammer again, and then went Whack! Whack! Whack! on Ryan’s unsuspecting head. Ryan howled in protest and Cole turned and ran for his Mom grinning the entire way. I don’t think passivity will be a problem.
Ant Dancing Ryan found an antbed on the driveway the other day. I told him to just leave them alone. “If you don’t bother them they won’t bother you,” I said. Ryan, between spitbomb launches on the antbed, assured me he wouldn’t bother the ants. I went in the garage. A few minutes later I returned to find Ryan doing a wild Indian dance in the middle of the antbed – stomping and kicking anything that moved. I watched for a minute as dirt and ants flew through the air. Finally, noticing I was watching him, he said, “I’m not bothering them.”
Bug Burner I recently found out that Mom planned to give Ryan a magnifying glass. The thought crossed my mind that perhaps this wasn’t the best toy for Ryan. From personal experience I know you can set fires and burn things with a magnifying glass. I ended up letting him have it though. After all, I’ve never mentioned using a magnifying glass to burn things and I couldn't imagine a 4-year-old coming up with it on his own. So guess what Ryan’s first words were when he pulled the magnifying glass from the gift bag, “Alright, a bug burner!” I’m still trying to figure that one out.
Pig Out Marisa went in Ryan’s room the other day and found his bath towel on the floor. She picked it up and noticed that it was wet and smelled like fish. Suspicious, she checked the little aquarium on Ryan’s bookcase where Pig (Ryan’s goldfish) lives and noticed it was missing some water. She called Ryan and asked him what was going on. Ryan quickly explained that Cole had asked to pet Pig. Never mind the fact that Cole still just grunts. Ryan, the helpful big brother, had simply been trying to oblige his brother by fishing out poor Pig and letting Cole pet him. Pig tends to keep to the back of the tank now when he sees Ryan.
Just in Case Pig, Ryan’s goldfish, has a new home. A 60-gallon aquarium on a wooden stand replaces his 1 gallon bowl on the bookcase. Ryan and Cole helped me set it up the other night. After we had finished we stepped back to admire the finished product. I asked Ryan what he thought of the new aquarium. He stared intently at the aquarium and after some consideration asked me, “Will it push over?” Tomorrow I am going to buy some bracing to attach the stand to the wall -- just in case.
My Brother’s Keeper I recently warned Ryan not to look directly into the sun because it wasn’t good for his eyes. To drive home the point further I added that if he didn’t stop he could ruin his eyes. He solemnly agreed that he would never do it again.
A few days later, Marisa was driving down the interstate when all of a sudden Cole started screaming. She glanced in the rearview mirror and saw Ryan half way out of his carseat leaning over with his hands clamped on Cole’s face yelling, “NO, NO, NO!” After Marisa had restored some order, Ryan explained that Cole had been looking at the sun. Cole just thought he was being attacked.
Cole Chow Cole has entered the dog food stage. You can’t keep him out of it. You feed the kid a good meal and then let him go outside and he makes a beeline for the Purina. I’ve tried giving him a swat when I catch him chowing down - no effect. I’ve made gagging noises and faked vomiting while pointing at the dogfood. He just looks at me, smiles, and pops another nugget in his mouth. Even Hennie (our Border Collie) looks at me as if to say, “Can’t you keep him out of my food?” The boy just loves dogfood. I remember Ryan went through the same thing. Eventually he moved on to become a connoisseur of rotten wormy fruit that had fallen to the ground so maybe there’s hope.
Practice Makes Perfect I was watching TV the other day when I heard giggling coming out of the bathroom followed by silence. A moment later hysterical laughter – then silence. I decided to see what was going on. I found Ryan standing in front of the mirror smiling at himself. No one else was in the bathroom. When I asked him what he was doing he said simply, “Practicing.”
Partners in Crime I recently heard some suspicious whispering coming from the kitchen. I walked in caught both boys in the refrigerator. They were taking turns drinking milk straight from the gallon carton. It is amazing the things they pick up from their mother.
Frog Feet I often take my shoes of and leave my them laying on the back porch. Last night I saw Ryan stuffing them full of toads. Even worse, he was showing Cole how to do it. I think I'll start taking my shoes in the house.
Soundbite Marisa was home with the kids the other day when she heard Ryan scream in pain. He ran to Marisa and told her Cole had grabbed him by the hair and wouldn't let go. Marisa found Cole sitting in the floor innocently playing with his firetruck. This particular firetruck however, records and replays 5-second soundbites and Cole was replaying Ryan's screams. Apparently, Cole needed a siren for his firetruck.
Hi Pig The Saga of Pig continues. . . Pig flourished in his new 60-gallon home. If fact, he did a little too well--after $15 worth of tropical fish disappeared I concluded Pig was carnivorous and had to go. I convinced Ryan he would be better off in the local pond. Pig could swim around with all the other goldfish and have lots of room I told him. Never mind the fact he wouldn't be eating anymore Neon Tetras. Ryan reluctantly agreed. I feel kind of bad now because every time we drive by the pond Ryan waves out the window, "Hi Pig!" He even carries a rock around in his pocket that "reminds him of Pig." Marisa often chimes in with "Poor old Pig". If this keeps up I'll end up fishing "Poor old Pig" out of the pond so I can feed him some more expensive tropical fish and relieve my guilt.
Flying Fish I took Ryan fishing yesterday. He insisted on baiting his own hook and casting it into the water without any help (he only "caught" me once). Once the bait finally made it to the water he would sit and stare intently at the bobber. Like a coiled spring he would wait for the first hint of movement. If that bobber even twitched he would give a tremendous jerk, jump up, and throw the rod. A poor little fish would come rocketing out of the water straight over our heads and slam into the ground behind us. Ryan would then dive on the fish and pin it to the ground. I guess there is no sense in reeling them in when you can make them erupt out of the water.
Good Mud Marisa took Ryan and Cole to my softball game last night. For Cole the game holds little interest - the good stuff is under the bleachers. Cole found a place where someone had spilled their coke in the dirt. Cole really likes mud. He tentatively tested it with one finger. It must have been pretty good mud because it wasn't long before both hands were covered. He then decided he needed to sit in it. Before Marisa could catch up with him he was rolling like a pig and having a great time. I guess it is a good thing that as adults we outgrow some of our impulses - at least most of us do anyway.
No Sneaky Fishing I came home from work yesterday and Ryan asked if we could go fishing. He asks me this everyday. I offhandedly told him that we might try to sneak out and fish during the weekend. He considered this a little while and then advised me that he didn't think it would be a good idea to "sneak off" and go fishing because Mom was just too smart. He must think I'm not smart enough to fool Mom. Smart kid.
Silent Protest Kids have different ways of expressing their displeasure with certain situations. Some throw tantrums while others cry and scream in order to get their way. Cole has perfected his own form of complaint. We call it the silent protest. When things don't go his way he turns red, sticks out his bottom lip, and silently lays flat on his back staring at the ceiling. No screaming or kicking, he just lays there until he feels he has made his point. I have a feeling this is too good to last.
The Fisherman Fishing as become an obsession with Ryan. Fishing shows have taken the place of cartoons on Saturday morning. He doesn't read children’s books before bed, but rather Bass Pro Shop and Ranger Boat catalogs. Our trees in the backyard are littered with fishing line and assorted bobbers and lures that have become entangled while he was practicing his casting. He spends hours going through my tackle box sorting weights, lures, and hooks. If I won't take him fishing after work his next request is can we at least go to the fishing store and look at gear. The really funny thing though -- I know exactly how he feels.
Don’t feed the Pig! The City of Amarillo recently put up a series of huge red no trespassing signs around the pond where I dumped Pig (Ryan’s carnivorous goldfish). The signs threaten potential trespassers with prosecution under penal code 3.05 – whatever that is. As a good citizen and father I explained to Ryan that the pond was now off limits and that we couldn’t feed Pig anymore. Personally, I was happy to have an excuse for not visiting that bloated goldfish. Marisa, however, has less regard for trivial things like penal code 3.05. Armed with a box of crackers and the two boys, she set out in defiance of the big red signs in order for Ryan to feed Pig. Pig never showed up to eat his crackers. The police, however, did arrive at the crime scene. Marisa, within a few feet of the sign, explained to the officer that I had dumped Ryan’s goldfish in the pond and that Ryan missed it and wanted to check on it and feed it. In the middle of her excuse, I mean explanation, Ryan clarified the matter by telling the officer, “We’re just feeding Pig.” The officer started laughing and drove off. It is pretty bad when your 4 year old has to bail your wife out of trouble with the law.
No Water Spots Marisa was gone for the weekend so it was just me and the boys. Things went pretty well until Sunday morning before Church. I took Cole to the bathroom to comb his hair. I sprayed him down with a squirt bottle and started combing. I stopped when I noticed that his hair was foaming. Hair doesn’t usually foam like that. I had mistakenly used the “Clean Shower” bottle that was sitting right next to the water bottle. Whoops. At least it wasn’t Tilex.
Hey Neighbor Ryan loves to go talk to Mr. Ray our retired next door neighbor. The other day Ryan noticed that Mr. Ray was in front of his house talking to a policeman. Ryan waited until the policeman left and then ran over and said, “Hey Mr. Ray what did you do wrong?”
What’s the matter Chucky? Ryan’s soccer team had a party at Chucky Cheese’s. It was a typical Chucky Cheese party with nasty Pizza, a thousand kids yelling and screaming, games, and a sweaty teenager in a Chucky Cheese costume. No one knows for sure what happened, but somehow in the course of the festivities Chucky got hurt. I guess someone put the wood to the Rat. Ryan says he has no idea what happened, but by the end of the party Chucky wasn’t making balloon animals and hugging little kids. Chucky was just a great big ole nervous rat, backed in the corner, trying to keep an eye on all the kids.
She Told Me To Ryan has started going to preschool one day a week. We thought it would be good for him to spend more time around some other kids. When I came home from work the other day I asked him about school. He told me I was going to be disappointed because he had been in trouble at school. He had hit a kid and the teacher had told Marisa. When I ask him why he said, “Alex told me to.” Alex is a pretty little blond girl. My first thought was the other kid must have been picking on Alex – he had probably knocked her down or something and Ryan was just defending her. So I asked him if the kid he hit had been hurting her. “No” he said, “She just told me to.” So much for chivalry.
A Bird in the Hand is Worth . . a phone call Marisa called me at work the other day and told me in a hushed voice, “There’s a bird in the house.” The way she said it I thought it must have something huge like a hawk or an owl. I could just see it sitting on the back of a kitchen chair staring her down as she whispered to me on the phone. It turned out to be just a sparrow. I told her to open a door and it would find its way out. Marisa, however, wanted it out immediately and decided to catch it. She gave the phone to Ryan while she stalked the bird. I put him on the speakerphone and called some other people in the office to come listen. Ryan gave us a running commentary, “Mom is sneaking up it.” In the background you could hear Marisa scream. Ryan yelled, “It just flew into the kitchen!” This was followed by the sound of running feet, slamming doors, furniture moving, and Cole screaming, “Bird! Bird! Bird! Bird!” In a final melee of crashing sounds and excited screams the bird got caught in a fern that Marisa threw out the door. Who says staying at home with the kids is boring.
It Was a Fluke Ryan is obsessed with how fast things are. Is Mom’s car faster than Granddad’s boat? Is my hand faster than a fighter jet? Is my bike faster than a meteor? How about a hawk or bullet – which one is faster? The comparisons, and questions, are endless. Recently though, when he argued with Marisa that he could run faster than the car, she gave him a chance to find out for himself. She stopped the car and told him to get out and start running! Later, I asked him if the car had beat him in a race. He said yes, but quickly explained that he didn’t have his fastest shoes on. He gets his ego from his Mom.
What the Heck is That? The whole family was in the car the other day when I noticed what looked like a hand smear on the top center of the front windshield. “Who did that?” I asked pointing at the smear. Silence from the back seat. After looking at it again I realized the smear didn’t really look like it was made by a hand. It looked like something else, some other body part. I then realized the smear was on the outside of the windshield and it was the image of an upside down face! Someone had been laying, belly down, on top of the car looking down into the windshield. Marisa, without even looking at me, said, “Why don’t you ask Ryan.”
You Can Run But You Can’t Hide I called home the other day and Ryan answered the phone. I asked him where Marisa was. He said, “Oh she’s on the front porch hiding from us, but we know where she is.” Sounds like it might be a rough day at the ranch.
Chocolate Ice Cream is the Answer The other night Ryan couldn’t find his toothpaste so I told him to go to our bathroom and use mine. A few minutes later I heard a panicky cry from the bathroom. Marisa and I rushed in to find Ryan with his hand over his mouth dancing around holding a tube of Ben-Gay. I knew what had happened. I told him to spit it out and rinse his mouth with water. As soon as the water hit his mouth his cries became screams. I should have known water would make it worse. In desperation I made a decision and took the Ben-Gay and rubbed some on my tongue so I could figure out first hand what would make it feel better - not the smartest thing I’ve ever done. Now I understood why Ryan was dancing around in little circles holding his tongue. For some reason, Marisa, barely able to contain her laughter, thought the whole situation was pretty darn funny. Ryan and I failed to see the humor. Finally, after 20 minutes of eating crackers, bread, peanuts, yogurt, and milk we finally decided that chocolate ice cream was the best remedy for Ben-Gay in the mouth.
The Tradition Lives On When David and I were kids Mom would have us clean our rooms. When we were done she would come in and inspect the job. This was a dreaded moment. I can remember holding my breath as judgement was passed. If the room wasn’t clean the punishment was “throwing”. At least that’s what we called it. “Don’t start throwing Mom please” we would beg. A “throwing” was the most feared punishment Mom had in her arsenal. To her credit, Mom didn’t actually throw anything, but everything came out of the closet, out of the toybox, and off the shelves and was “thrown” into a big pile in the floor where we were instructed to try again.
Last night I asked Ryan to pick up his room. After about five minutes he came back and said he was through. Doubtful I went to take a look. It wasn’t clean. It wasn’t even close to clean. Books were scattered about. Socks hung out of drawers. Little cars were under the blankets of his bed. Frustrated, I started picking up and straightening while Ryan watched. All of a sudden I had a thought. I smiled to myself. I stopped and told Ryan that this wasn’t good enough and without saying another word I started a “throwing”. Ryan watched in disbelief as the pile of toys in the middle of the room grew. I heard the familiar pleas for mercy as I emptied the closet, cleaned off the shelves, and dumped the toybox. It was a very good feeling. Throwing - the tradition lives on.
Bobbys Ryan and I were teasing each other when he said, “Dad you’re a bobby.”
“Oh yea what’s a bobby?” I asked.
“You know, girl’s have them” he said. I stopped what I was doing.
“Girls have what?” I asked slightly alarmed. What was my innocent four-year-old talking about? Surely he already hadn’t noticed bobbys. Even if he had it was a strange thing to call your Dad. Choosing my words carefully I asked, “Son, what girls have bobbys?”
“The ones on TV dad” he said smiling innocently. TV - I knew it. I was already trying to decide how I was going to banish it from the house and still watch football when he continued. “Girls dress them up and show them to people” he said. This was getting bizarre. He continued, “They comb their hair and put clothes on them too.”
“Barbys, you mean Barbys,” I said as I realized he was having a little trouble with the “r” sound.
He looked at me like I was really slow and said, “ Yea Dad, you’re a bobby.”
Fun and Games Last night I was sitting in my chair reading when Cole, with a mischievous look, came over and hit me with his shoe. He then smiled and waited to see what I would do. I laughed and reached to grab him as he ran away giggling. We played this game several minutes. He’d sneak up and hit me and I’d grab him as he ran away. After one unsuccessful grab Cole hid from me behind my chair. I sat and waited for the next attack. All of a sudden a huge boot (the kind with a big black waffle sole) whipped around the side of the chair by its shoestrings and slammed me in the nose knocking my glasses across the room. I sat there stunned for a moment trying to figure out what had just happened. The next thing I heard was Ryan asking me if I was okay. I took a moment to compose myself, picked up my bent glasses, and wiped the blood from my nose. I realized this could be one of those pivotal moments in Ryan’s childhood. He might remember forever the time Dad threw his boot through the front window. Instead, I just explained to Ryan that he was getting strong enough to hurt people and that he needed to start using more restraint when he played. I guess I should be thankful it was just a boot and not a bat or golf club.
Cuda Mow Ryan, Cole and I were driving to the store the other day when Cole started screaming from the backseat,
“Cuda mow Daddy, cuda mow Daddy!”
“What?” I asked.
“Cuda mow now cuda mow now!” he repeated gesturing wildly out the window.I looked in the direction he was pointing in vain.
“What are you saying Cole?” I asked him again.
“Cuuuddaaa mooowww!” he wailed in his most desperate voice as he continued to look out the window.
Hoping for an interpretation I turned to Ryan and asked if he knew what Cole was saying. Ryan grinned and yelled, “Cuda mow Daddy cuuudaaa mooowwww!”
Then they both started laughing. I didn’t think your kids were supposed to make fun of you until they were teenagers.
Patch Marisa was vacuuming the floors yesterday. She got down on her hands and knees and used the vacuum’s attachment to vacuum under the dresser in Ryan’s room. She had her head down looking under the dresser when Cole arrived on the scene. Cole loves to vacuum and the sight of an unattended running vacuum was more than he could resist. Marisa has long hair, which was on the floor because she was looking under the dresser. The vacuum cleaner is an excellent one with good suction and a strong motor. You guessed it. Before Marisa could react Cole had vacuumed Mom’s head. It managed to pull out a good size chunk of hair and firmly attach itself to the back of her head before she could turn it off. Marisa, 7 months pregnant and stuck on the floor with a vacuum cleaner entangled in her hair had Ryan bring her the phone so she could call her faithful husband at work to rescue her - I was on the phone. She then sent Ryan next door to get a neighbor to free her - they weren’t home. Finally she was able to get hold of a friend who thought she was joking but agreed to come over anyway. Cole met the friend at the door, shook his head, and warned her saying, "Vacu, Vacu." Marisa's new nickname is Patch.
Putting on the Feedbag On Sunday mornings I make the boys breakfast. Yesterday they consumed 2 peanutbutter-and-jelly sandwiches, 2 bananas, 1 pear, a bowl of cereal, 1 glass of juice, and 1 cup of milk. I felt like a farmer “slopping the hogs”. I finally quit feeding them when I thought I heard one them “oink”. They currently have a combined weight of about 90 pounds (before a meal anyway). Thirteen years from now Ryan will be 18, Cole 15, and the newest one 13. I estimate that their combined weight will probably be around 450 lbs. If their appetites increase proportionally with their weights breakfast for the 3 of them 13 years from now will consist of 10 sandwiches, 15 pieces of fruit, 5 bowls of cereal, and 10 glasses of juice! The really frightening part is that at this point the boys will be too big for me to make them stop eating. I’ll probably have to fight them for food.
What’s the matter Dad? I went into the bathroom the other night to check on Ryan who was in the tub. I found him floating face down. Startled, I yelled, “Ryan!” No response. I bent over the tub and yanked him up by the shoulders. He gasped, gave me a surprised look, and said, “Wow I can hold my breath a long time!”
Alright a Puzzle! When I came home from work the other day Ryan met me at the door with a surprise.
“Look Dad I made you a puzzle!” Ryan said. I looked in the bag he handed me and inside it were about 500 little pieces of paper. Ryan had scribbled on 3 pieces of computer paper, cut them up into tiny little pieces, and then mixed them up in a bag. To make it a little harder he had even colored on both sides before he cut them up. “Do you want to put it together tonight?” he asked hopefully.
“Oh yeah, I can’t wait” I told him while secretly hoping he would forget. He didn’t forget. I managed to find 2 pieces out of the 500 that fit together before he finally gave up and said he would make me an easier puzzle next time. It better be a lot easier.
He Needs To Go SSSit Cole is being potty trained. When he feels the urge he yells, “I need to go sit!” Unfortunately, a 2-year old’s diction leaves a lot of room for improvement. The “s” sound in sit doesn’t always come out with as a nice clean sssssss. Often there is a distinct “h” sound mixed in with that s. And of course each time he tells us we are just glad he remembered and so he gets nothing but positive reinforcement. I can’t help but wonder what his grandmotherly Sunday School teacher thinks when he proudly proclaims in the middle of class, “I need to go sit.” We need to work on a new word.
Brotherly Bribe Marisa recently found this cryptic message on a piece of paper in Cole’s room when she went in to get him up from his nap:
CLE iF u OK OP i A GV U SM FSN SOF.
It turns out that Ryan, who just turned 5, wrote it. He also provided the translation, "Cole, if you wake up I will give you some fishing stuff." At least he spelled “if” right.
Ryan Comments on Pregnancy Tomorrow is the big day. Here are a few of Ryan’s unsolicited comments on pregnancy.
You Can’t Fault His Ambition I was putting Ryan to bed last night when he asked me, “Dad what happens if I eat a quarter?”
Trying to make the idea seem as unappealing as possible I told him, “It would probably get stuck somewhere and I would have to hold you upside down and beat on your back until it came out! Eat food not money son.”
He thought about this for a moment and then said, “Okay, but I bet I could poop a dime.”
Swirly The other day Marisa put the boys in the tub for a bath. A few minutes later a wet and naked Cole came streaking through the living room saying he needed to use the bathroom. She told him, “Get back in there, use the toilet and also get your hair wet so I can wash it.” A minute or two later she heard Ryan laughing hysterically. She found Cole with his head stuck in the toilet giving himself a swirly. As bad as it sounds the poor kid was just following Marisa’s instructions “. . .use the toilet and also get your hair wet . . . ”. Needless to say, he got the head scrubbing of a lifetime.
Brotherly Love I was recently watching the Ryan and Cole play together in the backyard. Ryan was making Cole push him in the swing. I was just thinking how nice it was to see them playing together when Cole stopped pushing and picked up a plastic baseball bat and with one well placed head shot, knocked Ryan out of the swing. Cole then ran for his life while Ryan searched for the bat. I can only guess what he was going to do with it. I decided to let them just keep playing. Ah brotherly love.
Safety First Ryan came running in the house the other day and asked Marisa where he could find his bike helmet. She told him it was in the garage and then as an afterthought asked why he needed it. “I’m going to try something and I think I might need a helmet” he said as he ran out to the garage. Marisa decided to follow him out to the garage – just in case.
She can see Everything Ryan, Cole and I were in the garden the other day when Ryan said, “Did you know that Mom has invisible eyes in the back of her head?”
Cole chimed in, “Mean eyes!”
I laughed and said “Really? Did she tell you that?”.
They nodded and Ryan said,
“I think they are little bitty ones she hides under her hair. She said she can see everything we do even when she’s looking the other way!”
At this point I guess I should have ended the myth and assured them that their Mom wasn’t really a mutant. I could have saved them from forever being afraid of the back of her head. Instead I said, “That’s why she never wears a hat – she doesn’t want to cover them up.”
That Boy has an Infestation Did you know that a 4-month old can’t digest whole grain rice – I didn’t. Apparently, whole grain rice shoots right on through a 4-month old digestive tract. I know this because I fed Benjamin (who isn’t supposed to eat solid food yet) some one night. The following day Marisa changed his diaper and was convinced he had worms. Next time I think I might try dropping some of Ryan’s plastic fishing worms down his diaper. If Marisa thought little pieces of white rice were bad just imagine what she’ll think when she finds a dozen 9” Bass Assassin red fireball worms in his shorts! That’s a real case of worms.
Irish Aggie Indians We recently took the boys to an Anazasi Indian museum where they got to grind corn, weave rugs, knap flint, do other Indian things. A couple days later I was looking out of the kitchen window when I noticed one of my newly planted young trees was wildly whipping around in the air. I went outside to see which kid was trying to uproot it. There was Ryan – vigorously rubbing a potato against the tree. I asked him what he was doing. “Being an Indian,” he calmly replied, “I bet this is was how they peeled their potatoes.” He must have been referring to that tribe of Irish Aggie Indians.
Crabs I took Ryan and Cole fishing on the San Gabriel River. While I was busy untangling Cole from Ryan’s line, Ryan wandered over to the edge of the river. All of a sudden he jumped up with a scream and yelled, “ This river is full of crabs!” I told him crabs lived in the ocean, not in rivers. “Oh yea, well I think I just discovered crabs!” He had a crawdad stuck to the end of a stick.
Headball Cole has finally reached an age where he can appreciate one of my favorite games. It is a moment I’ve been anticipating since Ryan outgrew the game. I’ve finally got him playing headball. Headball is a game that starts with me lying down. Cole then brings me a ball and runs away. I then hit him with the ball just before he escapes around a corner. The ball is then brought back to me and we repeat the process. Great game. I don’t really enjoy playing with Ryan anymore because he thinks he should be able to hit me back. This of course ruins the fun for me. I figure Cole should be good for headball for at least another 2 years. By that time maybe I’ll have Benjamin trained.
Little Legs Last night Cole crawled up and in my lap after dinner and I noticed his legs. He looked like he had been fighting a weedeater. I counted 20 bruises, 6 scabs, 7 bug bites, and a handful of assorted scratches and abrasions – and that was just from the knees down. I asked him what happened to his legs. He gave me a puzzled look and said, “nothing.”
Cole Speak Cole is a picky eater and he has his favorite places to eat out. His all around favorite probably is “Hamburger King”. I think he likes their french fries. “O’Donnels” runs a close second because of their play gym and “Sonix” is pretty cool because they bring the food to the car. If he is feeling like Mexican food it has to be “Taco Lick”. Needless to say no one wants to share a Taco with Cole.
Dolphin-boy I think Benjamin is part dolphin, or maybe bat. He has started emitting a high pitch squeal that can break windows and cause anyone over the age of 30 to curl up into a small quivering ball. Marisa says he does it when he is hungry as a way of asking for more. I’m beginning to think he just likes watching adults flinch.
I Think I’m Gonna Die Marisa cooked chicken livers for dinner last night. In an effort to get Cole to eat them I simply told him it was chicken, that he liked chicken, and that he had no choice in eating the chicken. He didn’t think it tasted like chicken, but he reluctantly ate it. As he choked down the last bite he said in his 2-year-old voice, “This chicken will make me die.” He ate it anyway – and didn’t die.
Self Incrimination Last night I was following Cole into his room when he noticed crayon marks on the door. He stopped, pointed, and in his most official 2-year-old voice he said, “Hey Daddy somebody wrote. . . . .” He then left off in mid-sentence, ducked his head, and quickly headed into his room. Under his breath I heard him say, “Oh yeah, I did that.”
Safety First Recently Marisa gave the boys the standard lecture about strangers. If a stranger tries to take them they are supposed to yell to anyone who will listen, “He’s not my Dad, stranger, stranger!” You can imagine what went through Marisa’s mind the other day in the store when from around the corner she heard Cole yelling, “Stranger! Stranger! He’s not my Dad!” She rushed around the corner to find Ryan pulling Cole down the aisle in a headlock. They told her they were just practicing.
Donuts for Dads Ryan’s school had a “Donuts for Dads” day this morning. I’m still not for sure what the purpose was, but I guess it provides a school social event that involves Dads. Ryan and I got our donuts and sat down at the kindergarten-sized cafeteria table. The room was filled with other Dads and kids doing the same thing. Everyone finished their donuts in about 2 minutes. Then we all sat and waited. The room was quiet. The teachers moved nervously about. The Dads waited. The kids fidgeted. The Dads waited. Finally, after the longest 20 minutes in my life Ryan whispered, “ What do we do now?” All I could do was shrug. Marisa says if it weren’t for women men would never learn to do more than grunt. Maybe she is right.
A few weeks later the school had “Muffins for Moms.” Marisa said it was a big hit. All the women had a great time. Figures.
Lace and Roadkill Marisa always thought it would be nice to have a little girl. She would like to have someone she could dress up, drink tea with, fix their hair – all that stuff moms do with their daughters. Well, I guess Marisa has decided to improvise with our 3 boys. The other day she admitted to stopping the car on the side of the road so the boys could get a close up look at a squashed raccoon. Sharing a roadkill moment with her sons – how sweet.
Those Rickerson Kids We had so some old friends come over the other night with their two young boys. All the kids went upstairs and played while we caught up on old times. In the course of the conversation they mentioned they didn’t allow their boys to play with toys that looked like weapons. I noticed Marisa looked a little pale. About that time all the kids came tumbling down the stairs wearing plastic armor and army helmets, whacking each other with swords, stabbing, cutting, and shooting an assortment of ray-guns and rifles. It looked like a combination of Gladiator and Star Wars. I just smiled at Marisa. I guess we were a bad influence.
Bug-X I’ve found you really don’t need to hire an exterminator if you have kids. For creepy crawling trespassers I just call the Bug-X boys. Instantly Ryan and Cole appear armed whatever extermination tools are handy. The other night I watched them dismember a spider the on the stairs with a hockey stick and a Nerf football. Another time the tools of choice were a plastic sword and a jeep. I think my favorite combination was Ryan whacking with a light saber while Cole head-butted with a fireman’s helmet. That took real teamwork.
Teamwork I mowed the grass the other day. As I was coming around the corner on my riding mower Ryan jumped out from behind a bush and blasted me in the face with a super soaker water gun. Ha Ha I thought. I was giving him the skunk eye when Cole appeared from behind another bush and hit me in the face with 2 big handfuls of cut grass. The grass stuck to my wet face and glasses. I didn’t even bother to look back – I could hear them rolling around on the lawn laughing.
Staredown I put the boys to bed the other night and then went downstairs. A little while later I heard a thump thump thump as someone ran across the floor upstairs. Fullfilling my role as Papa Bear, I yelled, “Get to bed!” Silence. Shortly afterwards there was another thump thump thump. I yelled, “Alright I’m coming up there, somebody’s in trouble!” I went upstairs, opened the door, and turned on all the lights. Ryan and Cole were both lying in their beds perfectly still with their eyes closed. Little angels – ha! “Who was running around up here?” I asked. No one moved. I waited. In a louder voice I said, “I know you’re awake now who was it?” No one moved. I stomped over to their bunk beds and stared at them at point blank range. I was waiting for one of them to flinch or move a finger – any sign of life. I was going to flush them out with the weight of my stare. I waited. No one moved. I moved a little closer so they could feel my breath. Still no one moved. I noticed they sure looked like they were really asleep. I nudged Cole – no reaction. I shook Ryan – he just rolled over and kept on sleeping. Now I really felt stupid. They were asleep. I turned around and went back downstairs.
Release the Tiger! We have a new game in the Rickerson house – Release the Tiger. It starts with me holding Ryan down while Cole zooms in for some cheap shots. Little brothers love cheap shots and Cole is an expert. I then give Cole fair warning that he better start running because I’m about to release the Tiger. By this time Ryan, the Tiger, is beginning to think the game isn’t very fun and is ready for a little revenge. Big brothers love revenge. Cole takes off screaming for his life (sometimes I think he is really afraid) – trying to find a closet to hide in while Ryan, in hot pursuit, is screaming for blood. The game ends with screams of pain and gnashing of teeth somewhere in the back of the house. I like to think of the game as my way of promoting family unity.
We can’t take dad anywhere. I took off work early the other day to take Ryan and Cole fishing at the river. When we got there the banks where lined with anglers, and these guys weren’t weekend amateurs either, but rather people that had taken off work and took their fishing seriously. We found a place between a couple of guys. I noticed the looks on their faces and I knew what they were thinking -- kids, there goes the fishing.
Nevertheless, I smugly smiled to myself because they had never seen my boys fish. Ryan and Cole know how to handle a rod and reel. They are fully versed in fishing etiquette. So under the other fishermen’s watchful eyes we baited our hooks and the boys started fishing.
Things were going pretty well. Ryan caught and landed his first White Bass. I noticed approving looks from the surrounding anglers. They could tell these boys knew what they were doing. I proudly watched as Ryan asked if it was a keeper instead of dancing around with excitement – a real professional. I turned my attention to Cole now, because I wanted him to be sure and land one too.
What happened next is still a blur. When I turned to help Cole my foot slipped on the muddy bank. While trying to regain my balance I spun 180 degrees on my other foot. I was now facing the boys trying to keep from falling backward into the river. To steady myself I reached for a tree branch. I can still remember the look on Cole’s face. He was standing there holding his fishing pole looking up at me with a frown. His disapproving look seemed to say, “You’re going to mess around and fall in the water!” I was still looking at him when the tree broke with a loud crack and I proceeded to fall backwards into the river with a tremendous fish-scaring splash. It was a classic Nestea plunge, except I was holding a tree in one hand instead of an ice tea.
I stood up in the water and that’s when I heard the giggling start. The giggling turned to laughter. It wasn’t my fellow anglers laughing either. They had all looked away to allow me to exit the river in my shame. The laughing came from my own flesh and blood. They were doubled over and barely able to hold their poles. In a voice loud enough for everyone around to hear Ryan yelled, “Hey Dad, you got any fish in your pants!” I almost threw him in.
Humanity Cole asked me the other day what a human was. I told him human was just another name for people. He said, “So I’m a human?” I told him yes. “Mom is human?” Yes I told him. After checking to make sure all his immediate family was human he seemed satisfied. However, a little later he came back with a concerned look on his face and said, “Is Aunt Nell human?”
Black Eye Cole was running around in circles in Sunday School the other day when he collided with another kid who was also running in circles just in the opposite direction. His eye immediately started swelling up. I looked at it and told him he was probably going to get a black eye. With a very concerned look on his face he asked me, “I don’t want to have 3 eyes.”
What goes around comes around - as a bat. As a parent I often feel guilty when I accidentally hurt one of the kids. It seems I’m always stepping a finger or knocking someone down. The other night however, that burden of guilt was lifted. I was quietly laying in the floor watching TV when out of no where I got cracked on the forehead with a wooden bat. I never saw it coming. Afterwards I think I remember Cole saying, "Sorry Dad it was an accident." Somehow I just don’t feel as guilty as I used to.
Cockadoodle Ben Benjamin, who is just over a year old, thinks he is a rooster. He has a stool he has adopted in the kitchen. When he gets the urge he pulls it out, climbs up and crows. I call Marisa during the day and I can hear him crowing in the background. When I come home in the evening more often than not he is perched on his stool crowing away. Anytime he is in the way we just put him up on his perch and he will stand there are crow.
Protein Snack Cole told Marisa the other day that Benjamin sure did like Roley Poleys. Marisa was busy and just nodded. Cole came back a few minutes later and said that he just couldn’t believe how much Benjamin liked Roley Poleys. Something in Marisa’s mothering instinct prompted her to go check on Benjamin. Sure enough, Benjamin loves the taste of Roley Poleys!
The Streak The other day I heard Ryan in the front yard laughing hysterically at Cole. Out of curiosity I stepped out to see what was going on. Cole was running buck naked through the sprinklers. Neighbors were driving by pointing and laughing at the little hillbilly. From what I could tell he seemed to be enjoying himself. I quickly yanked his naked butt inside and asked him why he was running around without any clothes. He just smiled and said as matter-of-factly, “Sorry Dad, but I can run faster without clothes!”
Jumping Boy The boys love bugs so the other day when I noticed a jumping spider on the driveway I yelled and asked if they’d ever seen a jumping spider. Ryan ran over and I pointed the little spider out and told him it was a jumping spider. We were talking about jumping spiders when Cole, flying out of nowhere, landed on the spider with both feet. He rubbed it in the pavement, smiled real big and said, “I’m a jumping boy!”
Cole the Bug Hunter Cole’s favorite toy is a zip lock bag. Zip-Lock should hire him as a spokesman. Maybe you’ve seen the commercials that advertise the blue and yellow strips that turn green when the bag is closed so that “you can be sure it is closed.” You “want to make sure it is closed” when a 3 year brings a zip lock baggy into the house that is stuffed with toads, or maybe one that has dozen grasshoppers and a lizard.
Treasures We buy our kids expensive toys and yet their most prized possessions cost virtually nothing. I recently opened a plastic tackle box in which Cole stores his most prized possessions and found the following: 5 feathers, 4 rubber fishing lures, a dozen rocks, 2 seashells, a rubber band, 1 Hot Wheels car, 5 feet of string trimmer line, and in the bottom a handful of grass and leaves. I have a feeling the grass was for the benefit of something that had been alive and escaped. Total monetary value of everything in the box -- about 2 dollars.
Sometimes I wonder what is going through the kid’s minds. The other night I was sleeping on the couch when Ryan hit me on the shins with a meat tenderizing hammer – the kind that has metal studs imbedded in the head. What was he thinking? What could possible be going through his mind? I wonder if he thought I would think it was funny? At least he didn’t hit me with it on the forehead.
Snapper Last night at dinner I tried feeding Benjamin some broccoli. He spit it out. I put another piece in and he looked at me with a hint of defiance and spit it out again. Determined, I put a third piece in and as he was starting to spit it out I stuck my finger in his mouth and poked it back in. For a moment there was a stalemate between his tongue and my finger with the broccoli caught in between. I was staring him down with my most authoritative look when he suddenly grinned and chomped down on my finger. I guess he thought that if it was in his mouth it was fair game. Needless to say, the broccoli and my finger didn’t stay in his mouth.
Fight or Flight Last night Ryan hit his head on something and started crying. As Marisa was consoling him I waited a couple of minutes and then did the fatherly thing and told him to be tough and stop crying. About that time Cole stood up in his chair, flexed his muscles, and said, "Yea Ryan be tough like me -- I don't cry." Ryan instantly stopped crying, glared at Cole, and said with clenched teeth, "You wanna see who's tough?" Without saying a single word Cole jumped out of his chair and hit the ground running in the other direction. I guess little brothers get the "fight or flight" response worked out early in life.
Dada! Benjamin has been saying Moma, bite, and various other things for months, but he won’t say Dada. I’ve tried and tried, but he just looks at me, grins, and asks for a bite or drink. So you can understand my enthusiasm when I recently heard him excitedly saying Dada Dada Dada in the other room. I rushed to congratulate him and then realized he was talking to the TV. Even worse, Marisa had just put in a Barney tape.
So You Want to Play Marisa was outside with the boys the other day when our neighbors, the Burrs, said hello. One thing led to another and Marisa and the kids were invited into their house. Marisa was talking to Mrs. Burr when she noticed that Mr. Burr was down on his knees rough-housing with Cole and Ryan. No one told Mr. Burr that getting down on your knees in the living room floor and teasing the boys is like waiving meat in front of hungry wolves. It is considered an invitation to attack. Before Marisa could rescue him, Mr. Burr found himself flat on his back with Cole sitting on his throat slapping him on the forehead while Ryan was doing knee drops on his stomach. In the boys defense, they just thought he wanted to play.
I can't wait until he can talk. Little Benjamin has some very strange habits. He is usually a pretty compliant child, but sometimes if I you tell him "no" he will turn around, putt his head on the floor, and stick his butt up in the air. I really wonder what he is trying to tell me?
Booger Tape As I become a more experienced (read tired) parent I have found little tricks to save time. For example, did you now that masking tape will pull the crust right off of a kid's nose. No more chasing them around with a damp cloth and holding down their little squirming and screaming bodies while you try to rub that nasty stuff off. All you have to do is take about a 4" strip of masking tape, place it firmly on the encrusted area, and then let 'er rip. I admit the child might be a wee bit shocked the first time you do it, but with a little practice they really don't mind. Just wait, when this gets out someone will probably make a fortune marketing a product called "Booger Tape" or "Crusties Be Gone". Either that or I'm going to have to explain this to a social worker.
Deer in the Headlights Yesterday we went to the courthouse to straighten out a problem with the car registration. Marisa let the boys bring their scooters to ride around the square. It was well after 5PM when we got ready to go and she suggested that they have one final race to the corner and back. The sidewalks were empty. Cole got the jump on Ryan and was halfway to the corner before Ryan got started. About that time a little old lady appeared from nowhere at the end of the sidewalk. Marisa and I saw her at the same time. We both yelled for him to stop, but he was too far away.
With his head down and his foot a blur, Cole was pumping his scooter at what seems about 50 miles per hour (Cole is a scooter demon) racing to the end of the sidewalk. The little old lady, now in the middle of the sidewalk, looked up and saw him coming. It was a classic deer-in-the-headlights look. You could see it in her eyes, she knew she there was no way she was getting out of the way. Then at the last possible second Cole swerved, whipped all the way around her, and then headed back. I don’t think she ever moved . . . or took a breath.
HO HO HO When Marisa put up the Christmas tree this year Cole starting getting nervous about Santa. He asked her if there was any way to keep Santa from getting in house. Apparently he doesn’t like the idea of some big red guy jumping unannounced through the front door. This probably has something to do the Santa incident from last year when we had the neighbor come roaring into the house yelling HO HO HO . Maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.
Flying Santa One of Benjamin's favorite toys right now is an 8" tall stuffed Santa. You rub his belly and he sings and dances. The other night Santa went flying (without Reindeer or Sleigh) into the sunroom. He was singing "Santa Claus is coming to Town" just before he crashed into the wall and flopped down on the floor. He laid there a minute doing a strange little dance on the his back and finishing his song. About that time I heard Marisa yell to the boys, "Who put the batteries back in Santa? I told you not to play that thing anymore - I'm sick of it!" I guess Marisa had listened to Santa sing one too many times today. Ho! Ho! Ho!
Splitting Headache Last night I heard a running, laughing, and then a loud CRACK in the living room. I investigated and found all 3 boys running and body-slamming themselves on the couch. Actually, Cole was flat on his back in the floor with a dazed look, but I assume he had been doing the same as the others. I yelled, “Hey, what do you think you’re doing?” They all stopped. Ryan had a guilty look. Cole still looked dazed, and Benjamin just smiled innocently.
“You guys are going to break that couch!” I warned. “Didn’t you just hear that loud crack?” I asked.
With a relieved look on his face Ryan said, “Oh that was just Cole’s head Dad, it’s alright it wasn’t the couch!”
Party Animals Ryan just turned 7. For his birthday we let him have 6 friends come over and spend the night. We loaded them up with lots of sugar and then let them play some birthday games. However, we quickly found out that 7-year-old boys on sugar-highs don’t really like traditional birthday party games. There doesn’t seem to be enough action. Instead they played “Pokemon Tag Team Karate Wrestling”, “Hunt the Weak Kid”, and “Did that Hurt?” At least the favorite game of the night, “Hide ‘n Seek with a Weapon” was a variation on the traditional standby. If only you could store that kind of energy.
ColeShark Marisa was recently playing the card game War with Cole who just turned 4. While they where playing she noticed that he almost always had an ace show up when there was a war. She finally caught him. He was playing aces off the bottom of the deck! She told him that was cheating. I guess the lesson didn't take because the aces kept showing up. Because she was on the bottom of the deck trick he resorted to pulling them out of the collar of his shirt! He said he was just stretching. Now if I can only teach him to count cards I might move the whole family to Nevada.
Nuts Last night Marisa and I were discussing how to fix a broken stool. Marisa offered up her expert mechanical opinion and told me all I needed to do was, "Pop those nuts off and tighten it up."
Ryan was walking by when she said it and under his breath he said, "I bet that'd hurt."
Like a cat pouncing on a mouse, Marisa jerked around and asked him, "What did you say?" Silence. Ryan just stood there. "I heard that! What do YOU know about nu . . er . . . them?" she asked as she pointed at the nuts on the stool. Ryan turned red. I personally found the whole thing pretty funny and was trying not to laugh when she turned and started on me, "Did you hear what your son said? You probably taught him that didn't you. I can't believe my son is walking around talking about . . . those .. .er . .that. Do you talk about them around him? How long has he been talking about them? Does Cole know about them too? I just can't believe that my . . . etc. etc. " I looked at Ryan who was standing behind his Mom. Now he was laughing.
Hushpuppies For Dinner last night Marisa made hushpuppies. I noticed Cole was really munching his. I asked him if he liked that hushpuppy. He stopped and looked at the half-eaten hushpuppy in his hand. I could tell he was deep in 4-yr old thought.
He then asked me, "Exactly what part of a dog is this?"
Straight faced I said, "I don't know Cole what part do you think it is?"
He looked at it from a couple of different angles and said, "Probably a piece of the tail." Then he popped it in his mouth and asked for another one.
Dad’s Helper Last night I was up on a ladder doing some sheetrock work when I felt something pulling on the back of my leg. I looked behind me and saw that Benjamin had climbed up behind me on the ladder and was now holding on to both of my legs. I couldn’t move. I told him to let go and go down. He wouldn’t (or couldn’t). I tried to shake him off. He cried. He wasn’t going anywhere – and neither was I. Luckily, he was wearing overhauls so I was able to reach around behind him and pick him up by the straps and deposit him on the ground.
I Caught a Big One I took Ryan fishing the other night. We were standing side by side in the stream about 20 feet apart. Ryan fishes pretty well now. Most of the time he can handle a fishing pole and the lure. On this particular afternoon he was having some trouble. Out of the corner of my eye I could see him thrashing around trying to untangle his line. At the time I thought the best thing would be to just let him untangle his mess by himself. That would be the best way to learn. That was my thinking before his spinning lure embedded itself in the side of my head. Ryan, oblivious to what he had just “caught”, was still trying to straighten the tangle out by violently jerking the pole around and rapidly reeling in line I watched in horror as the slack line rapidly disappeared. Luckily, I screamed, “Stop!” just before I really got caught.
What She Doesn’t Know -- is Good Yesterday afternoon I found Cole, perched in the 3rd shelf of the pantry, eating out of a 1 lb bag of M & Ms. Marisa had just left the house. I asked him if it was okay with his Mother for him to eat candy 30 minutes before supper. He looked at me and said with perfect 4-year old logic, “Mom doesn’t know.”
Then they all went . . . At a recent 2-year-old birthday party we attended the hostess had an ice chest filled with those little cardboard grape juice boxes with straws. While the parents socialized the kids were able to load up on all the grape juice they could drink – and this was the good stuff, 100% juice. Between juice boxes the kids went and bounced in a one of those blow up bounce houses. Grape juice – bounce – more juice – more bouncing. Finally, the inevitable happened, all at once, all the 2 year’s attending the party let loose with a simultaneous bowel movement. It wasn’t a pretty site. We had to hose Ben off in the front yard – all the bathrooms were taken.
Unsquishable Last night I walked into the living room and found Ryan the pushing the big leather chair up against the couch. Cole was caught between the two. I knew it was Cole because I could see his feet sticking out at an awkward angle.
Ryan was screaming, “You want more?”
From between the furniture I could hear Cole’s muffled voice yelling, “Tighter, tighter!”
Finally Ryan pulled the chair away and a squished Cole popped out and said, “See Ryan, I told you I couldn’t be flat!”
He Won We took the boys to a movie last night – Attack of the Clones. During one intense scene the leading characters were staring longingly into each other’s eyes in a prelude to a kiss. It was during this scene that Cole leaned over to Marisa and said, “I think they are having a staring contest.” Then the couple kissed. Cole nodded his head and said, “I guess he won.”
Ryan, Cole, and Curly We recently took the boys to a birthday party. During the story time the hostess had all the kids sit down. Our 3 angelic sons sat together eagerly awaiting the story. The hostess began the tale. After a few minutes, Ryan looked around and then nudged Cole. The story continued. Cole then elbowed Ben. Ben poked Ryan. Ryan slapped both of them. Before long a full fledge 3 stooges routine broke out in the middle of the floor. They must get that from their Mom.
How Great Thou Art On some Mondays Marisa takes the boys and sings hymns at the nursing home. Most of the time Marisa leads the Seniors in song while the boys play. Today however, the boys managed to smuggle a rope into the nursing home – a rope with a noose. In the middle of leading the music Marisa noticed that Ryan had the noose around Cole’s neck and was about to do something that would probably not be good. So in the middle of that classic hymn “How Great Thou Art” a new verse was added, “Cole get that rope off your neck!” At least the Old Folks were entertained.
Hooked on Fishing Yesterday Marisa called me and told me I needed to get home fast. Cole had a treble hook stuck in his head and she didn't know what to do. When I got home Cole was watching TV. Sure enough, the treble hook of a spinner bait was imbedded in his hairline. The lure was dangling down over his forehead (how it got there is another story). I cut the skin over the barb with a razor and then extracted the lure from his forehead with a pair a channel locks. He never even flinched. In fact, the only time he cried was before I got home. Ryan had told him the hook was in his brain and he was going to the hospital to be put to sleep.
Spiderboy Cole (4yrs old) has recently taken a fascination to Spiderman. It doesn't help that Marisa bought him Spiderman underwear. He likes to put them on, sneak around, and hide in high places. He then pounces on people who get within jumping distance. Nothing like sitting around watching TV and suddenly having a 4-yr old wrapped around your head.
Spiderboy Gets Stomped The other night I was reading to Benjamin when Spiderboy (Cole) snuck in the room, crawled up to my feet on his belly, and grabbed my toe. I didn’t see him coming because the book blocked my view and it just so happened that the book I was reading was about spiders. I just knew I had one on my foot. I kicked hard. The kick to throw the spider off caught Spiderboy on top of the head and sent him rolling across the floor. Unhurt, he thought it was hilarious that he had scared Dad.
Purposeful prayer Cole’s Sunday School teacher recently relayed this story. It seems that she had brought a piece of Amethyst to Sunday School to spark conversation about the power of God’s creation. During the prayer time one of Cole’s buddies prayed, “Thank you God for the Amethyst rock. I know it must have come from a dinosaur cave – probably a T-Rex cave.”
Cole then prayed, “Thank you God for all the things you made. Thank you for the Amethyst even though we all know it didn’t come from a cave and certainly not from a T-Rex cave. Thank you for letting us know that T-Rex didn’t even live in a cave. God just help people to learn more.”
Young scientists For Christmas Ryan and Cole got a videoscope. A videoscope is basically a microscope with a screen. Along with the videoscope came some dissecting tools to help budding young scientists prepare slides. I had to wonder at giving 5-yr olds dissecting tools, but in the interest of science they were allowed to keep them. That is until I walked into the kitchen one day and found parts of about 10 stink bugs spread out over the kitchen bar. The videoscope pretty much stays outside now.
Yoda Benjamin thinks that he is Yoda – the little green Star Wars character. We can thank his 2 older brothers for convincing him that he is small, green, and talks funny. In a twisted sort of way it makes sense. Yoda is short. Ben is short. Yoda talks funny. Ben talks funny (Cookie me want). Yoda is green. Ben doesn’t know his colors yet so maybe he thinks he is green. As I watch Ryan and Cole bat Ben around the house with plastic light sabers, I can only hope Ben never makes the connection about the ears.
The danger game A couple nights ago Cole came running in the house crying. He had a long red whelp across his back. I asked him what happened and he quietly said they had been playing the danger game. I thought to myself, “Hmm the danger game.” Maybe I should investigate. Well, I found out that in the danger game Benjamin gets to chase his brothers around trying to whack them with a 4’ long wooden dowel rod (or PVC pipe, tree branch, or anything else that is handy). The danger is in getting too close. I made it very clear to both Ryan and Cole that if they ever play that game again – they had better get me so I can watch! Go Yoda – may the force be with you!
BEEEEE The boys had a picnic in the yard yesterday. A picnic is actually just a trick so that Marisa doesn’t have to clean the kitchen. Another favorite trick is “Paper Plate night – yippee!” Anyway, as they were eating a moth landed on Cole’s head without him knowing it. In fact, Benjamin was the only one to see it. No one else noticed. Apparently, Benjamin doesn’t yet know the difference between a moth and a bee. With great alarm, he jumped up screaming BEEEEEEE and proceded to whack Cole on top of the head. The moth was reduced to a greasy spot in Cole’s hair. Ryan thought the whole incident was hilarious which of course only made matters worse. Poor Cole had no idea why his psychotic younger brother was dancing around, screaming, and whacking him on the head. It took Marisa picking the dead bug parts out of Cole’s hair to convince him that it wasn’t all a conspiracy.
Hail? A confused recently Cole asked Marisa if it was okay to sing bad words in Sunday School. Marisa told him of course not and then asked what song he was talking about. Sheepishly he sang, “Hail Jesus you’re my King!”
Cole Kinevil When I pulled into the driveway after work yesterday Ryan came running up to the pickup laughing. He said that Cole had just jumped his bike off a ramp, flew into the garage, and crashed headfirst into the refrigerator. Ryan, still laughing, said Cole had never even hit his brakes. I found Cole and asked him what was going on. The first thing he said was, “It’s okay Dad I’m wearing a helmet now!”
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