Daniel’s first Cub Scout badge

Tonight was the Pack 46 Pack meeting, and Daniel received the first badge he’s earned: his Bobcat. He is very proud of himself, and we’re proud of the work he did to earn it. He also earned his Collecting and Languages and Cultures belt loops. Hallie taught the Tigers a short German lesson at the last den meeting to help them get that belt loop.

Daniel also got a hiking patch for going on his first hike with the pack last weekend. He’ll get a special patch after he’s hiked 25 miles, and at 50 miles they’re presented with a hiking stick. He REALLY wants that stick! And he loves hiking, so I’ll bet he gets it sooner rather than later.

Daniel's first Cub Scout badge

Tonight was the Pack 46 Pack meeting, and Daniel received the first badge he’s earned: his Bobcat. He is very proud of himself, and we’re proud of the work he did to earn it. He also earned his Collecting and Languages and Cultures belt loops. Hallie taught the Tigers a short German lesson at the last den meeting to help them get that belt loop.

Daniel also got a hiking patch for going on his first hike with the pack last weekend. He’ll get a special patch after he’s hiked 25 miles, and at 50 miles they’re presented with a hiking stick. He REALLY wants that stick! And he loves hiking, so I’ll bet he gets it sooner rather than later.

Ice Storms, R.E.M.'s 'Driver 8' and One Little Boy

During the NWA Ice Storm of 2009, we stayed in two different hotels for four nights before being persuaded to stay with friends in Bentonville. It was on the fifth night of not being able to sleep in his own bed that The Boy couldn’t get to sleep on a borrowed sofa bed.

After a half hour or so of hearing him toss around, I went in to check on him. He was very upset. He said, “Daddy, why can’t I sleep in my bed tonight?”

powerlines_floaters

His bed was at our house where there was no electricity, no heat, and a clogged sewer line that couldn’t be cleared until the power was restored. And it was getting down into the 20s at night. I reassured him that we’d be able to go home soon and he could get back to his routine.

So as I lay there and comforted my son who had held up for the first four nights like a champ, I nearly lost it, too. I had been trying to balance work (in the news business where we were busy covering the storms aftermath with something more like obsession and overkill than completeness) with making sure my family was safe and warm and my house was getting repaired and services restored. It had definitely taken a toll on me as well.

So I rubbed his back and sang the usual bedtime songs to help him get to sleep so that I could get some rest, too. But he piped up with a twist, “I want you to sing me a new song.”

I was surprised and a little nervous. I’m not a singer, and I just don’t know the words to that many songs — at least not ones appropriate for singing a 6-year-old to sleep. Bit it was late and we were both physically and mentally exhausted, so I sang him a new song: R.E.M.’s “Driver 8,” which is one of my absolute favorite songs and the first one I learned to play on my guitar close to 20 years ago and — most importantly — one of the few songs I know most of the words to.

“Driver 8” is a great song, but not really a lullaby from any direction you approach it. It could be about a deranged train engineer, a long ago failed relationship, just pastoral scenes from the South, or lots of other things. Michael Stipe’s lyrics in the the early days were often obscure and difficult to understand even when you could decipher which words he was singing.

So, I sang this great but possibly inappropriate song to a tired and frustrated little boy who was trying to fall asleep in a strange bed for the fifth night in a row.

And he loved it.

It didn’t really put him to sleep, but we had a long talk about “floaters” and why they would be on powerlines, which lead to a conversation about cropdusters (and trains, of course).

We got to go back to our re-electrified home a couple of nights later, and things returned more or less to normal, including the same old couple of bedtime songs.

But when he’s really tired or maybe not feeling great, he asks for “Driver 8” and it seems to help him get to sleep. It’s even more my favorite song than ever now.

Ice Storms, R.E.M.’s ‘Driver 8’ and One Little Boy

During the NWA Ice Storm of 2009, we stayed in two different hotels for four nights before being persuaded to stay with friends in Bentonville. It was on the fifth night of not being able to sleep in his own bed that The Boy couldn’t get to sleep on a borrowed sofa bed.

After a half hour or so of hearing him toss around, I went in to check on him. He was very upset. He said, “Daddy, why can’t I sleep in my bed tonight?”

powerlines_floaters

His bed was at our house where there was no electricity, no heat, and a clogged sewer line that couldn’t be cleared until the power was restored. And it was getting down into the 20s at night. I reassured him that we’d be able to go home soon and he could get back to his routine.

So as I lay there and comforted my son who had held up for the first four nights like a champ, I nearly lost it, too. I had been trying to balance work (in the news business where we were busy covering the storms aftermath with something more like obsession and overkill than completeness) with making sure my family was safe and warm and my house was getting repaired and services restored. It had definitely taken a toll on me as well.

So I rubbed his back and sang the usual bedtime songs to help him get to sleep so that I could get some rest, too. But he piped up with a twist, “I want you to sing me a new song.”

I was surprised and a little nervous. I’m not a singer, and I just don’t know the words to that many songs — at least not ones appropriate for singing a 6-year-old to sleep. Bit it was late and we were both physically and mentally exhausted, so I sang him a new song: R.E.M.’s “Driver 8,” which is one of my absolute favorite songs and the first one I learned to play on my guitar close to 20 years ago and — most importantly — one of the few songs I know most of the words to.

“Driver 8” is a great song, but not really a lullaby from any direction you approach it. It could be about a deranged train engineer, a long ago failed relationship, just pastoral scenes from the South, or lots of other things. Michael Stipe’s lyrics in the the early days were often obscure and difficult to understand even when you could decipher which words he was singing.

So, I sang this great but possibly inappropriate song to a tired and frustrated little boy who was trying to fall asleep in a strange bed for the fifth night in a row.

And he loved it.

It didn’t really put him to sleep, but we had a long talk about “floaters” and why they would be on powerlines, which lead to a conversation about cropdusters (and trains, of course).

We got to go back to our re-electrified home a couple of nights later, and things returned more or less to normal, including the same old couple of bedtime songs.

But when he’s really tired or maybe not feeling great, he asks for “Driver 8” and it seems to help him get to sleep. It’s even more my favorite song than ever now.

My Life As a Reader: Part 1

Since my son was born a little over six years ago, I’ve taken a strong interest in books for children, not just baby books or books you read to kids, but the books he’ll be reading himself when he gets there.

As a child, I read voraciously. I read all the books I was interested in from our school library by the third grade and attacked the science fiction section of my county library shortly thereafter. My mother turned me on to The Hobbit when the Rankin Bass cartoon came on TV when I was in the fourth or fifth grade, and I checked out the novel the very next day. I moved on to the Lord of the Rings trilogy shortly thereafter, though it took some later re-readings to really tease the most out of those books.

But when I started checking out fiction for kids in 2003, I discovered that there are nearly more good books for kids these days that even a committed bookworm such as my myself could have read!

The Harry Potter books, of course, are often cited as the beginning of the kid lit explosion (and I’ve read and enjoyed those), and that series has spawned numerous knockoffs (some good, some dreadful), but there are librariesful of good kids books out there.

As The Boy gets closer to being able to digest books longer and more difficult than Sammy the Seal, I’m going to read more and more of these great new kids books (and some older ones that I loved as a kid) to help him get started as the same sort of life-long reader his mom and I are. I plan (though my track record’s not awesome) to blog at least quick recommendations (or warnings) about the ones I read.

Books that I read as a child made such an indelible impression on who I am today, and I want to him have that same sort of relationship with books, too.

So, I’ll start with three books that I’ve re-read in recent years that influenced me as a youngster.

I’ve written about A Heart To the Hawks by Don Moser here before, but I wanted to mention it again in this context because it’s such a good book and means so much to me.

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George is another nature-related book that has stuck with me. I’m sure I saw the Disney movie based on this book, but it’s the book itself that I remember the most. Every kid seems to harbor desires to run away from home, even if just for a little while. I spent a lot of time in the woods as a kid, and I always imagined myself as a kindred spirit of Sam Gribbley, even if I didn’t run away to the Catskills and survive an entire winter on my own.

Madeleine L’Engle’s popular children’s fantasy-science fiction classic A Wrinkle in Time inspired a life-long interest in science that — despite my lack of science degrees or ability to do complex equations — lives on today in my reading habits. The way it describes things like tesseracts and folding spacetime in a way that young children can understand and get excited about it just flat amazing.

I look forward to The Boy discovering wondrous things in books like these and others that he’ll discover as he embarks on his life as a reader.