News From The Woods - December 27, 2003


By Bob Ketchum

Originally Published December 27, 2003

"Letter To Robert"

Dear Robert,

Well, son, you've reached that point in your young life where you are not quite a "little Boy" and not quite a "little Man". You are getting old enough to talk to and get a response, and you are beginning to understand and follow conversation within a group of people. On the other hand, you are six and still behave like a six-year-old when you want something or feel you're feeling have been hurt. Sometimes you don't know the difference between when someone is laughing "at" you or laughing "with" you, and you will sometimes pout or even sniffle when you think we are making fun of you, but we are only laughing and having fun with you. You don't have the same problem when it is YOU who are poking fun….. So you need to learn the difference and remember that maybe sometimes you might accidentally hurt other's feeling when you are just "playing". All in all, though, you are growing up quite well.

When we visit friends and you are along you behave very well and for the most part are very quiet. You sit next to us and are usually very attentive to the conversation without interrupting. Sometimes it just amazes us because at home you run all over us! I guess that's the way it is with life. At least you don't carry on in public like when you don't get a toy you want at the toy store or Wal Mart. I see other children do that - carry on with a tantrum or have a screaming fit on the floor in a public place. I am so thankful that you haven't grown up that way. Oh, you may pout a bit and sniffle - being careful to look around to make sure no one else is watching, but when we move away from that isle you straighten right up. We are so proud of you for that! And so proud that you seem to be growing up a happy child.

Of course you DO have your moments. I guess six is the age that you have learned how to sass your parents. At first you do it and it's kind of funny (I guess that's OUR fault for fueling the flames), but then the "funny" wears off and it becomes annoying. You haven't yet learned not to go too far. At first we let it slide with verbal warnings, but after a couple of "NA - NA - Na's" with a sour face and shaking your head side to side, we lost patience at your flagrant disdain at our parental authority and offered you a choice of straightening up or getting smacked. That worked for a while but then . . . "spare the rod and spoil the child" kept coming to mind every time you sassed us and so we reluctantly bent you over our knee and gave you a couple of smacks. All went well until the day you looked back at your Mommy and said "THAT didn't hurt!" Wow! Wrong thing to say, son! Mom came unglued and sought me out to inform me that she was going to lock you in a closet and not let you out until you turned eighteen. Instead I recommended no video games until you changed your tune. It only took a couple of days before you began asking "Can I play my game now? I've been good". You DO know the difference, son…. We just have to teach you that all bets are off and all games suspended until you realize how far is TOO far.

A neighbor friend who thinks you are about the sweetest thing to ever set foot on earth (Boy, do you have HER snowed!) brought by such a thoughtful and educational gift this spring. It was a book on making H U G E bubbles, and it came with all the fixin's and the special hoop which made it easy to create Big Bubbles. And I mean Bib Bubbles! We have had so much fun with that thing. We've learned about how humidity and wind speed are crucial factors in choosing the right time to make up a mixture of special suds and when and where to go outside to make big bubbles. Mommy has accused me of "hogging the hoop" and sometimes when you wander off to play with the dogs or on your swing or trampoline, I get involved with the hoop and spend the next hour trying to make bigger and bigger bubbles. It is quite addictive as many times the neighbors come over and offer to "help". I guess this thing just brings out the child in any adult. It sure is something to make a giant 4-foot bubble that goes up into the sky out of sight. Or when you make four or five in a row and they drift out in the street, literally stopping traffic. No one wants to burst the bubble! And remember the time we went down to the lake right before dusk when the wind died down, and made a half dozen big ones that just floated out over the lake? Boats would slow down to gawk in amazement at the huge 5 foot round bubble bouncing on top of the calm water!

And of course there is the WaveRunner. You really like to ride that thing with us. I think you are becoming aware that we are really zipping along sometimes, because once in a while you want to go off in a calm cove or occasionally avoid a big boat with a really big wake. It's not that you are scared, you just seem to be a bit more cautious about fun on the lake. And that is a good thing. You need to learn a healthy respect for the lake and always keep in mind where you are. You like horseplay while swimming but very rarely do we have to say anything to you about playing too rough in the water with other children. You are watchful at all times and seem to be concerned about everyone's safety while boating. You're swimming skills are nothing short of amazing! Soon you won't even need to wear your life jacket (but not TOO soon). I can't wait to take you sailing! There's nothing quite like hearing the hull swish through the water and the wind against the sails but no motor noise to cover any of it up. I am waiting just a bit longer for you to grow into the appreciation of sailing. But for now (and probably for quite a while from here on out) the WaveRunner is your special fun on the lake. Even the dogs see the fun we have and want to ride on it! Ranger will swim out to the WaveRunner when we come in to shore and bark like he wants to ride. Bear has actually rode on it. He just sat back there behind me and let the wind blow his ears back!

You have certainly enjoyed Bear and Ranger this past year. Sometimes you get a bit exasperated when Ranger won't come to your call. I have to remind you that he is still a puppy and it will take time for him to settle down and that eventually he will grow into a fine dog who will be your constant companion. For now he flops around in the living room try to bait Bear into playing with him. Bear's ears are about torn up all the time from Ranger nipping at his Daddy's ears. I guess it's that "Alpha Male" thing, and Bear is very tolerant of his eager son, but sometimes Ranger goes a bit too far and Bear will growl or snap at him. That's all it takes. It sort of reminds me how I deal with you sometimes and that all creatures in Nature's Circle of Life aren't that different after all. I love our afternoon walks, with Ranger and Bear out front taking the point, and you and I commuting with nature and enjoying the time spent together. You are getting SO good at spotting even the faintest deer tracks in the soft ground, and ask many questions as we walk along. I am so surprised at some of the questions you ask! You are really thinking and have a grasp of things that I am not used to seeing in small children. I am SO proud of the way you are growing up. So full of life and questions. I try to NEVER tire at your questions, as I know it is the only way you will learn. We always stress reading over television. We haven't had cable TV or any other TV programming for over six months now, preferring to play movies of our choosing when we want to have a family TV night together. But I always pull out a book. For now pictures are very important to you, but we will continue with the books and start bringing in more and more reading books instead of "picture" books. I just bought you "Moby Dick", and cant wait to start reading it with you. All in good time. . . . . .

For your birthday this year we bought you your first bicycle. It's a snazzy yellow thing that you really love. You amazed us in your first week by learning how to ride it and turn circles. Of course you still have the training wheels on, but someday they will fall off and you will be on your own! And of course you never go out in the street riding without one of us being there with you, and you constantly look around both directions on the road before you start pedaling. Safety first! That's always been our family motto. I will always remember the day I took you on a long walk in the woods by the lake and I was lecturing you on being ever watchful of snakes and such. After about thirty seconds as I was leading the way I heard your voice behind me…… sort of exasperated…."Dad! You almost stepped on that snake!" I turned around and there, lying out in the open, was a large cottonmouth, sunning on the warn rock that I had just stepped on! He was just beginning to stir when I wheeled around and in an instant was thankful it wasn't summer because he would have been fully awake and I wouldn't have been so lucky. Good eyes, son!

You graduated this year from Montessori and have joined the ranks of Ms. Tuell's Kindergarten class. You really like "big school", and always bring home good reports and great grades, especially for learning your letters and following along in reading. We started a file folder for all the things you bring home from school, but that file is way too small and now we have a large box to collect all your projects. Ms. Tuell is very good and finds many activities with which to keep the class busy and coming up with new things to make and take home, especially for Fathers Day, Mothers Day, and all other major holidays. I cherish each and every thing you bring home that says "You're #1 Daddy" and things like that. I save it all so I can embarrass you when you bring home your girlfriend from college. Hahahaha!

This is the year of Daddy's 40th High School Reunion, so you know what that means! Trip to Florida for our birthday! I hope we can save up enough money to go to Orlando while down there and visit your sister and go to see The Mouse. You went to Disney World when you were two, so this year I think I'd like to take you to Epcot. Or maybe we can do both if we have enough time and money! You're only young once and I want you to have the best childhood we can afford to give you. You are already growing up so fast I can hardly keep up with you. One day I was showing you how to work the Playstation game controller, and a week later you were zooming through tough games and getting good scores. I was amazed at your eye/hand coordination. Now you and I play them together when we get the time. You're growing into such a fine young man and I can't wait to see what next year brings!

This year you are big enough that we can take you with us whenever I play with my band. We don't take you to every gig, but whenever it's a nice place or the timing is right, we bring you along. You seem to really like "Spilt Milk", and lately we have been catching you singing along with songs you remember from a gig. Right now your favorites are "The Letter" and "Runaway". I'll be glad when you are big enough to start carrying my gear around! Ha-ha!

Always remember that we love you,
Mom & Dad

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