News From The Woods - December, 2005


By Bob Ketchum

Originally Published December 28, 2005

"Letter To Robert"

Dear Robert,

What a whirlwind year it has been! Now that you are getting to the age where you don't need constant supervision you seem to be growing up at an amazing pace. And there are so many things that I want to share with you because you are getting to the age where you comprehend and understand what I am talking about. Your attention span has increased dramatically, and your demeanor is improving. You still aren't a "morning person" and getting you up and ready for school is still quite a challenge. But you come by it honestly enough as I never was a very good morning person either. Fortunately, your mother is, and she takes up a considerable amount of slack for both of us. Aren't we lucky?

You still love to be outdoors as much as possible, and have been enjoying the freedom of being allowed to wander around the house and property unattended. Well, for the most part. You don't go anywhere without both big dogs accompanying you in your explorations. No large animal or stranger will ever get close enough to you without having to deal with Ranger and Bear. And you are never far enough away from the house without someone knowing about it anyway. But it's just the idea of "being alone" sometimes that pleases you and makes you feel a little like some famous American explorer searching out new territories. It's one of the reasons we choose to live in the country as opposed to city life.

Most of the time you stick close to the house and prefer to play on your trampoline or target practice with your Daisy Range Rider BB Gun ("You'll shoot your eye out!") or your bow and arrows. I have tried to teach you to be responsible with the BB rifle, and you have shown that you can be trusted to play alone with it. However, you are not allowed to use the bow and arrows without adult supervision. A mistake with the BB rifle could be dangerous, but a mistake with an arrow can be lethal. Even though you are safety conscious with your bow we don't feel you are old enough yet to go roaming around the neighborhood with a real weapon. However, if you continue to show good judgment with "grown up toys" I am confident that in a few more years you will inherit your first real gun. It was the first gun I ever received from my father, a Savage over-and-under 410/22. The PERFECT squirrel gun for a young hunter! It served me well for many years, and I have been saving it for you for the proper time.

And of course, fishing is still a big hit with you. We haven't spent much time going to locations around the lake, but have centered our favorite fishing spot to the bass, crappie, and perch that live under our boat dock. It's convenient and doesn't cost us for gasoline! You are still a little too young to learn how to be "properly patient", but your attention span toward fishing has improved in the past year….. Especially if you are catching fish. But I have to tell you; you are a "crappie catcher"! I don't know what it is, but you catch more crappie than any one I've ever seen. You certainly out-fish ME when it comes to crappie. And this past summer you've shown a renewed interest in artificial lures. I have dug out my Dad's old tackle box and we through them all. You like for me to show you how each lure is "worked" and what kind of fish you can catch on it. You are starting to show a real interest in the "science and art" of fishing. Your Grandpa would be proud!

This year you took the name "Critter Boy" to a new level. You talked us into allowing you to have pet hamsters in the house. We, the dutiful parents, went out and spent what seemed like a small fortune on a hamster cage - a sort of high rise plastic housing unit - and all the trimmings…… Not to mention purchasing food for them. We started with two. Then Mommy got you three more later (what were we thinking!??). FIVE hamsters were too much for Hamster House. Those cute and cuddly critters just couldn't deal with the overpopulation and so they conspired to break out of their jail. One morning we woke up and when we went to the case we discovered to our horror that they all ganged up on a trap door and by sheer weight and power broke the plastic hinge and scurried off to parts unknown. We eventually found two of them, and a third's lifeless and frozen body was discovered outside two months later (lying at the feet of the family cat), but the final pair of escapees were never found. No more hamsters! (I hope)

This past spring we enrolled you in baseball. Not that "kiddy T-ball", but "real" baseball! You were in a league and really enjoyed it. Your team scored very well in the season, but more importantly you had fun and learned about teamwork. We never missed a practice or a game and I got lots of video of you at bat and catching hits as you played outfield. You even got to be pitcher for one game! What amazed me was how some of those other parents acted! They took it all too seriously, with their own kids and with the coaching staff. For us, the whole point was for you to have fun, learn how to play the game, and get an understanding about teamwork. But for some of them it might as well have been the World Series. What pressure those kids must have been under! Too bad for them. Those kids will probably grow up to be just like their parents. You have your work cut out for you as an adult in your generation.

This past summer I decided it was time to pay homage to "The King", so I took the three of us to Memphis for a weekend. We went to the Memphis Zoo at Overton Park and had a blast. The sea lion show was incredible, and the visiting Pandas from China were so much fun to watch. Then we all went to Graceland. I had never been myself, so it was new to all three of us. We toured Elvis' home and grounds and saw all his cars, and also got to go on the Lisa Marie, his private jet. But aside from seeing all those Gold Records, the Memorial Garden where Elvis and his family are laid to rest made the biggest impression on me. And, seeing all his clothes and costumes I realized that Elvis wasn't really that big of a man, sizewise. But we sure like his music, don't we?

I can tell you are doing well in school. Not only are your grades exemplary but you seem to be very popular with all the other kids in your class. It seems like for a while there we were taking you to one birthday party after another. One of your pal's birthday parties was a Theme Party. Everyone dressed up like cowboys and you even got to ride a Shetland Pony! At another birthday party there was a giant 20-foot tall air-filled slide. I noticed that piñatas are also popular, and we even had a Spongebob Squarepants piñata at your own birthday party in November.

This year, since you've been acting so grown up, we decided to allow you to "hang with the big dogs" for New Years Eve, and we invited you to spend the night with the adults as we played cards and stayed up until almost 2 AM. You actually did very well and stayed right in there with us longer than I thought you'd last. You did get bored a couple of times, but you minded your manners for the most part and got to yell "Happy New Year" with the rest of us at midnight. I could tell you felt privileged to be allowed to stay up. You tried so very hard to act like a little adult, and you did a swell job, son. And when you grabbed the stage prop glasses and played the part of "Happy Howdy" you had all of us laughing so hard we couldn't breathe for fifteen minutes. You are truly your father's son - always the Entertainer.

We have discovered this year that you don't like being told that you are handsome, cute, smart, or funny. Apparently, getting complimented is the "kiss of death" to an eight-year-old. At home we just ignore you and lay it all on you anyway, but in public we respect your wishes and play down our usual enthusiasm for our son. Sometimes it is hard to do because you ARE such a good boy. You are doing well in school, making good grades and minding the teacher. You do your homework when first arriving at home after school and save your playtime until after your homework is done. You are actually starting to pick up after yourself without being asked to. We are impressed, and we have been extending bedtime occasionally as a reward for such practices. Keep up the good work son, and life will reward you for your positive attitude and good behavior.

We love you,
Mom and Dad

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