Brothers; Why Having a Brother Rules

BrothersAs a kid, I never really thought about what having a brother meant. My relationships with my brothers were (and still are) strained for various reasons. Partly due to distance, age difference growing up, and resentment. There isn’t really anything I can do to fix these situations as I have tried and failed…miserably.

But now that I am going through my adventures in daddyhood I look at my two boys and think about what it means to have a brother and how awesome it truly is.

These are my 4 Reasons Why Having a Brother Rules! (in no particular order)

1. Built in playmate. When you have a brother, you always have someone to play with. No single player mode for you. He is always there to help you take on the bad guys so you don’t have to go it alone. He always has your back in that first person shooter. He is there to play action figures, build empires out of bricks, cushions and whatever else you can  think of. He is there to fight zombies in the back yard with you. He is always there.

2. Teacher/Student. Ever get in trouble as the first child? Ever get away with it as a second child? As a first child you often got caught doing things the second always seems to get away with. Why? Because as the first child you have become the sensei and have (unfortunately) learned all the ways to get caught. You have passed that knowledge onto your younger brother and he is now a ninja warrior. Cunning, sneaky, able to get away with things you could have only dreamed of. Thanks big brother for taking one for the team.

3. Built in Best Friend. When you are younger, you will probably not realize it, however, as you get older you will. Know one can know you as well as your brother. You get in trouble together, you play together, you argue, laugh, fight. He is someone you can and should share all of your joy and pain with. Because he has grown up knowing who you are and no one can understand you and what you go through like your brother. So enjoy it.State Fair

4. Built in Mortal Enemy. With a brother, you also have your biggest enemy. He competes with you in everything. He is the competition in sports, video games., board games, attention from your parents, attention from girls. You will learn the art of self defense from your bother. As the younger brother you will learn the art of taking a serious beating at the hands of a larger opponent. You will take this beating and keep on coming back for more. As the older brother you will learn speed and dodging are your friend as as your younger brother has learned the art of the projectile to keep you at bay.

So enjoy having a brother. He is everything you need all rolled up in one. So go out enjoy life together.Playing


First Day of School

Ninja TrainingFirst Day of Ninja SchoolSo today it starts. It is old hat for the “A” and it should be old hat for his dad, but it isn’t. Today marks the day my youngest takes the next step away from needing me for everything to be more independent. Today, “N” goes to Pre-K. Today, I am no longer the center of his learning universe. Today, “N” will start learning all his ninja fighting skills from other kids and dare I say it…a teacher (gasp). Today is the day that his world starts to expand exponentially.

It is bitter sweet for me. I will enjoy the little bit of freedom I will have without the boys in theFirst Day 2 house, but I will miss the great adventures they take me on. I know, I know, I will still have plenty of time for them after school, but this new adventure for them makes me realize that I will gradually become less and less a part of  their lives as they learn and grow. I will be the taxi, the waiter, and the hotel concierge. I do realize that I will always be dad. I do realize that “A” and “N” will always love me. I just know that I will miss these full days, even if many of them are just filled with hanging out and watching shows and playing video games together.

So today, I sit here and contemplate the next phase of Ninja Training. Any suggestions?

The Giving Tree

As this summer comes to an end I am once again thinking about my time as a teenager working at Madison County Children’s Camp (Camp Lookout). It was a place that changed me as a person for the better. I often think about it and hope that one day my children will be able to attend a camp like Camp Lookout.

You see, Camp Lookout has been a refuge for needy children. Every child who comes to camp is there because they needed the love and respect that every child is given every day. They do not come from rich families, they do not come from perfect homes. Often, they are broken and need to be built back up. And the best thing is that the families do not have to spend a dime for their children to be there. Camp Lookout is run entirely on donations, grants, Community Chests, and the Madison County Board of Supervisors. Every child’s stay is paid for by the generosity of the community.

Every time I think about my years as part of the staff there, I can’t help to think of “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. It was a man stay on our last night of camp. We read it to the campers and it has basically become symbolic of what the staff does and why we do it for the campers.

For those of you who don’t know, the story is about a tree, and a boy (who grows up throughout the story). The tree gives to the boy everything she has, and the boy takes everything she has. I have realized as I read this story to my children that as you hear this story at different points in your life it means something totally different. As a child you understand it as a parent loving their child and giving them everything they need and want. As a teenager reading this to the children at a camp, I understood it to be about an adult figure giving children the love that they need. As a parent I understand it as a love so strong you will give your children everything they want and want nothing in return. Why? Because you love the boy, very much.

So as I think about my own children and being that tree, I straighten myself up as much as I can and tell my children to sit down and rest. And this tree is indeed very happy.

And the tree was happy.

And the tree was happy.

For those of you who want to make a donation to Madison county children’s camp so that some of the county’s most vulnerable children can attend please go to Camp Lookout Donations for directions on how to make donations.

Nervous Dad

apple picking 3Today is the day. Today, “N” goes on his first field trip…on a school bus even. For Summer Recreation they are going to a local place that has mini-golf, batting cages, video games, bounce houses, go-karts and lots of fun kids stuff. I know, I know, I shouldn’t be nervous. “A” will be with him. “A” has been on lots of field trips with school. But “A” is not 4. “A” was in kindergarten when he went on his first field trip. “N” hasn’t even officially started school yet.

So, yes, I am a nervous dad. I don’t show it on the outside but I will be thinking of them the entire time they are gone. So, while they are out, no doubt having a very good time, I will work on the numerous projects that the CEO (AKA the wife) has left for me to do (which I will probably be sharing with you all when they are done).

A Child’s Imagination

Story Telling

I have noticed that “N” loves to tell stories. He always has some story to tell. The great part is, like every good story they have some basis in reality. He likes to start off his stories by saying “remember that time?”

I love his stories. It is great that at 4 years old he has such a great big imagination. It is amazing how much detail he puts into every story. All the details he puts in is truly spectacular to hear. You can ask him questions as he is going along and he can put in even greater details. He tells stories, about ninjas, coyotes that he heard at grandma’s house, spaceships, dragons, bears, or anything else he might of seen or heard of. One day, I will have to turn one of his stories into a book.

That is the great thing about children in general. Their imaginations are limitless. It is our responsibility as parents and adults to nourish it and help it grow. We should never squash that spark that burns deep inside their growing brains. We need to give it life and make sure that it grows into a raging forest fire that will never burn out. So, read to your children, talk to your children about stories, watch shows, play games that encourage imagination and help your child grow. It will help them to think critically when they are in the workforce and have original ideas so that they can be productive, loving, thoughtful adults. So be that spark that helps your child grow. Help them tell their Never Ending Story.

The Never Ending Story

Summer Vacation

Super Adventures

Best Friends

Best Friends

When I was a kid I lived in a neighborhood with lots of kids on our street and a public golf course as our back yards. I loved summer vacation as a kid. We would stay all get together and play with GI Joes, Transformers, and Matchbox cars. We would build blanket forts. Best of all we would play outside. We would play hide-and-seek, tag, monkey-on-the-middle, ride bikes, and run through the sprinklers on the golf course (between dodging golfers). We would stay outside all day until dinner time, then meet back up afterwards for more fun, until it got too dark to see. We didn’t have a worry in the world. Neither did our parents. (but that is for another time).

As I watch my kids playing video games on my phone while sitting on the porch, I hope for them to have that too. I want them to have friends that will come over and jump on our trampoline, play on our play set, play tag, other games that we invented, play make believe…just play…outside. A child’s imagination is truly amazing to watch in action and I don’t want them to be crippled by the technology that we use so prevalently as parents and society. I want them to be able to have fun with what is around them. I want them to be able to figure out something to do when the power goes out. I want them to just be kids for as long as possible.

So lets get out there, have some fun and show our kids how to be kids. After all, children learn by example.


Oh, the Places You’ll Go!


Oh, the Places You'll Go!

We are coming up on the end of the school year and I am sure some of you have already gotten there and are already enjoying the summer with your kids. Yet others may be counting down the days until they go back to school. But anyway, I digress.

When I was a counselor at Camp Lookout as a teenager we had a big campfire on Thursday nights before the campers went home on Friday. We would all sit around the campfire, sing some songs, thank people who made the weeks special for us and often read a story. For the 12 year olds this would be their last time coming to camp as a camper and it was especially emotional for many of them (and often us). The story we often would read would be “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” by Dr. Seuss.

I often think back to this book as it talks about growing up, moving on, and striking out on your own. It was so profound to those campers as they left a place of sanctuary and stability (which was often the only one they had in their lives) and set out on their own with out us.

Now that I am a parent, my wife and I have thought ahead to a time when our own little Supers move out on their own and have to make decisions on their own without us. So, we purchased these books to give to our “A” and “N” when they graduate from high school. Yes, we already purchased them twelve years before they graduate. We did this so that at the end of each school year we can give the book to their teachers and have them sign and write something inspirational to them. Then when they graduate they will have a gift twelve years in the making. They will see how much people cared for them and that they want them to succeed.

Hopefully, they will look at these book and think that we were the best parents ever for being so thoughtful and caring so much. Hopefully, they will look back at these books and remember all the people who cared for them and hope that they do not get stuck in “the waiting place”.

Because, Will they succeed? “Yes!” They “will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed).” I sure hope yours will too.

I would love to hear from you and what great ideas you have for when your children move on and up, so please leave a comment.