Why Thank You, Strange Lady

We had an all family outing the dog park on Friday afternoon. A good chance to get Nande a good long run, some socialization and for everyone to spend a little quality time together without the confining walls (and mess) of the house.

We usually do a couple of loops around the perimeter to give Nande a chance to get her major ya-yas out. Its about a half mile and I make sure she runs at least two or three times that by hucking rocks for her to chase.

The boys have a good time inside the fenced in area, Grady likes to use the chuck-it like a shovel and throw scoops of wood chips and dirt. Sully just like to motor around and chase the little dogs. Occasionally, a bigger dog will deck one of the boys but they generally don't seem to care too much. And the dog owners are almost ashamed of their dog's behaviour. But we do our best to let them know that it happens, they are tough little boys and are used to big dogs with our big girl.

Anyway, one of the aspects of the park that's nice is that its a chance to chat with other dog owners, usually about dog stuff but occasionally about other things. One lady and I got to talking about kids and what a handful teenage boys were and how different her second boy is from her first. The first is 21 now and the second is, I think, 16. She said the first boy was incapable of deception and lying but she's just not quite so sure about the second boy.

I explained my perspective as being a younger brother and having to deal with the "tender mercies" of a bigger brother. Little brothers have to be tougher, smarter and, to some degree, wilier and more deceptive than the bigger brother. My brother and I are separated by three years and he's just a larger guy than I would ever be. So I had to toughen up and figure out other ways to win when we fought, either physically or verbally.

I remember playing tackle football with him and his friends as a kid and being one of the better tacklers because I went balls out after them. I didn't care about getting kicked in the face, I didn't care about getting dirty or banged up, I cared about showing them that I was every bit as tough and as good at the game as they were.

I am who I am because of my relationship to my brother as much as any other aspect of my childhood. Both good and bad.

Anyway, this lady and I were chatting and she asked how old my boys were and remarked that it might be a good thing that we started so early with our children. I asked her what she meant and she said, "Well, you can't be that old, maybe 28?" and I smiled and said, "Actually, I just turned 38 a couple of months ago".

I know I'm young at heart but its nice to know that I still look pretty young on the outside as well.

I'll have to write more about the effect of growing up in my brother's shadow sometime. Its something I think about quite often. Usually it ends up being in the negative sense but sometimes it has its positive aspects as well.

Thanks for the compliment, strange lady. I hope your younger son proves you wrong and "flies right".