Today is Kenzie’s eighth birthday and one of her birthday presents was a new bike. The little beginner bike that she learned to bike-ride on is just too small for her now.

But, the new 20″ bike she got for her birthday is just a little big for her. Although she could reach the pedals from the bike seat, she couldn’t quite reach the ground with her feet without leaning the bike over.

So, it was difficult for her to get her ride started. I had to hold the bike while she got on it and then I gave her a little push and off she went.

She was able to ride on her new bike without difficulty. Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to me how she would stop her big bike. So, the only way she could stop was to crash (the same way you stop in skiing)!

She didn’t get hurt or scratched up when she crashed, but she didn’t want to ride her new birthday bike any more.

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Yogi Berra. File photo 1965 by Indy photographer Fred Parrish.

The other day I was sitting in the office at the kids’ school waiting to speak with the principal. While I was waiting, the kid’s dad’s first grade teacher walked into the office.

Although she’s retired from this school, she may be working as a substitute teacher. She may even be volunteering her time at the school. Teacher’s are like that you know. They never stop being a teacher and they never lose their dedication to working with kids, even in retirement.

So, we exchanged greetings and I gave her a brief update on the kids and then the principal was ready to see me.

As I walked to the principal’s office it suddenly happened! You know, that deja vu thing. That feeling that this is all familiar but you don’t know why. Only, unlike the typical deja vu experience, I knew exactly why this was familiar.

I had been there, done that, same school, meeting with the principal about my kid’s behavior–but 25 years ago when the kid’s dad was a student at this school..

It’s like deja vu all over again!

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As I dropped the kids off in front of the school and they exited the vehicle loaded down with their big-kid backpacks, I called out the window to them, “Just walk, it’s not a competition!.”

They obediently walked toward the front door of the school–for about two steps–and then the race was on to be the first one to get there.

The most important thing to them is to be first–or at least to beat their sibling.

Almost everything they do seems to be a competition: Be the first to get in the car. Be the first to get out of the car. Be the first to fasten their seat belt. Be the first to unfasten their seat belt!

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The kids are going through this phase where they want to blame their bad behavior on someone else. Usually, that someone else is their sibling.

“It’s her fault,” he says. “He made me do it,” she says.

“Kenzie made me hit her because she laughed at me!” says Kaleb.

“It’s Kaleb’s fault I pinched him because he wouldn’t stop talking!” says Kenzie.

It seems that neither accepts responsibility for their own bad behavior. It’s always the other one’s fault.

Sometimes, it’s outrageous, the blame they heap on one another.

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stevesurprisetwohandsonfaceSome time after Diane died a lady at church stopped me in the parking lot and informed me that she was praying for a wife for me. Although I didn’t know her very well, each time I would see her she would always say the same thing, “I’m praying for a wife for you.”

I figured that she just felt sorry for me since I was now a single (grand)parent raising two young children. Or, more likely, she felt sorry for the two young children I was raising as a single (grand)parent.

She and her husband were in the same Sunday School department at church as I was. So, as I got to know her better I found out that she had lost a spouse earlier in her life and later married again and she was also raising grandchildren.

And we became good friends.

She became my confidante with whom I shared my single parenting frustrations and concerns. She had this dry sense of humor and a wit that made me laugh whenever I was overly concerned about trivial matters in the lives of the kids as they are growing up.

A few years went by and I met Tami. We got engaged. We got married. And, I suppose, my friend’s prayers were answered!

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student-drop-off-pick-up-signThe kids started school this year in a new school because we moved across town and into a different school district.

Maybe I’m somewhat overprotective (in a grandparent sort of way) in trying to create a stable home for the kids. So, changes worry me, and changes at school can be a big deal for the kids.

But, the first few days at the new school have proceeded without incident and maybe “change” is really more difficult for me than it is for the kids.

I drive the kids to school each day and it is a task I enjoy doing. I like to walk them to their classes on the first day of school and greet their teacher and see where their desks will be located in their new classrooms.

Since they started attending a new school and didn’t know their way around the building, for the first few days I parked the car in the school parking lot and walked with them to their classes.

One morning during the drive to school, Kaleb informed me he wanted me to drop them off rather than walk in with them. Reluctantly, I steered the car to the student drop-off lane instead of driving into the school parking lot.

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When Tami and I got married, I brought two kids and she brought a dog into our new blended family. As you might imagine, bringing two spoiled kids and one spoiled dog together under one roof has required a lot of adjustment by all concerned–parents, kids, and especially the dog.

Chloe is a ten-year-old Pekingese with a temperament something like a cat. She owns her space and she owns whomever she allows in her space at any particular time.

She thinks it’s her duty to protect whoever is in her space and to attack whoever encroaches on her space without her permission.

Now, contrast her temperament with the temperament of the kids, who have no respect for personal space and, consequently, are always encroaching in your space!

So, this first year has been a struggle for personal space around our house. Chloe owns her space and the kids always want to be in it!

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