Where the Wild Things Are: The Younger Siblings of Baseball | June 29, 2022

Behold, America’s Pastime.  As the first buds of spring emerge on the branch, so do cleats on the baseline – ready to make and rake their own layers in the dusty tracks like so many generations before.  However, today on Animal Planet‘s “Where the Wild Things Are,” we take you off the baseball field to capture a species rarely seen by the naked eye (because most people wear sunglasses): the elusive, the sugar-filled, the unkempt and unkept…Younger Siblings.

As the title suggests, a Younger Sibling is the latter offspring in a family group that also includes an Older Sibling.  When enrolled in activities such as baseball, these Older Siblings require an excessive amount of attention – from identifying appropriate clothing (“Are we wearing blues or whites today?” a parent will ask, using the royal “We” to identify to the Older Sibling – who rarely knows the location or cleanliness level of any jersey, color notwithstanding), to providing nutrient-rich sustenance (“I hope we’re all hungry for microwaved hot dogs!”), to traveling to and from events (“We have to be at the field at 7am, so maybe we will sleep in the car.”), to watching every moment of gameplay (“Yes, instead of going to bed, let’s definitely talk about that minute detail.”).

An adult brain can only process so many thoughts at once; and, as a result, any Younger Siblings are given the barest minimum of care – basically, parents just make sure to bring them along to wherever they are going.  Left to their own wild devices, these Younger Siblings organize into feral packs, roaming about the ballfield in search of food and fun.  These packs are called “Buddies” because, once in a group, the Younger Siblings eschew their own given names so as to answer to all variations of the name “Buddy.”

Buddies exist everywhere and nowhere.  One minute, they are under the bleachers.  The next, they are in the outfield.  Their location rarely has anything to do with their purpose; they will throw a ball back and forth from inside the bathrooms, or cheer at random for whatever team is in closest proximity from the top of an electrical box.  Often, they will stop what they are doing and have a long conversation with another member of the pack – ending the conversation by slapping one another and shouting, “You’re it!” and running off.

Buddies are particularly hard to identify, as they are always shifting numbers, members, and clothing.  Many Younger Siblings will arrive at the field wearing their SpongeBob jammie bottoms and their Older Siblings’ unused jersey, and leave the field in a pair of shorts and no shirt at all.

Because of these changing facts, and in order to hold up the “parenting” end of being a parent, adults will move their focus away from the Older Sibling long enough to regularly track the general vicinity of his or her younger child.  Once they spot one or more members of their last-known pack, they will shout out an ambiguous missive, such as, “How’s it going, Bud?”  To which their offspring will identify themselves by yelling, “I’m hungry.”

The Buddies’ diet is forged entirely from the nearby concession stand.  This is not to say other options don’t exist; in many cases, the parents of the Younger Siblings will provide a carry-all filled to the brim with healthy/healthy-ish foodstuffs, ranging from sunflower seeds to fruit snacks to the same straight-up actual candy served at the stand.  Regardless of what is provided, the Younger Siblings will wait until the exact moment that the Older Sibling is either up to bat or pitching and then ask for money “to get something to eat.”

“Hang on, Bud, your brother is pitching,” the parent will reply, their eyes glued to the field.

“But I’m hungrrrrryyyyy,” the Younger Sibling will say, invoking a tone which has the effect of completely erasing a parents’ memory of any previously-packed snacks and/or best-laid plans to not buy anything at the park.

“Oh, okay,” the parent will say, producing $5 without actually looking away from the game.  “Bring back change.”

No change will ever return.  Instead, it will be traded for hot dogs and candy bars, as well as cotton candy, Freezees, Ring Pops, and bags of chips.  Once gathered, the Younger Sibling will graciously dole any and all foodstuffs amongst the Buddies, oftentimes forgetting to save enough to fill their own bellies.  Not to worry, though; they will soon be sated as soon as the coach switches pitchers and another Younger Sibling can repeat the same song-and-dance with their own different set of parents.

If, for some reason, the concession stand is closed, the Younger Siblings will console themselves with fistfuls of unshelled sunflower seeds – which they will “eat” by sucking off the salt and spitting into the grass whole, thereby saving themselves the unnecessary exertions of shelling, chewing, or actually consuming any protein.

To get an inside look at this volatile pack environment, Animal Planet embedded one of our top researchers, Dr. Pat Patterson, into what we identified as Buddy Bravo (which was formed after one of the members of Buddy Alpha left to go to Sam’s Club with his grandma).  Here’s what Dr. Patterson had to say:

“I found Buddy Bravo rolling down the pitching mound on an unused field, and I was able to join them by standing near the group until someone pointed at me and said it was my turn.  We played on that field for one hundred hours, and then petted a dog for another hundred hours.  I was briefly a member of Buddy Charlie after a kid named Sam called Finn’s sister a farthead, but we reconvened once Sam’s mom found a bag of balloons in her wagon.  Come to think of it, we never did blow up those balloons; instead, Finn pulled us around in the wagon like a choo-choo train for infinity hours and then it was time to go.  Did I have a good time?  Well, Sam did – wait, is that the ice cream truck?  Can I have $5?”

As Dr. Patterson – who is currently preparing for a similar study amongst Hockey Buddies – noted, Younger Siblings will spend “infinity hours” at the baseball park – time that will never be reciprocated by their Older Sibling.  Yes, one day the Younger Sibling may be at his or her own baseball game, and yes, the Older Sibling may need to come to the field to get his or her mom’s car keys – and, while there, casually glance at the game while mom digs in her purse.  When that happens, nearby adults will coo, “Isn’t it great that he came to watch his brother,” which is the cue to the Older Sibling that they are now allowed to leave to do something better.

Finally, speaking of leaving…all baseball games come to an end – and with it, our migrating Buddies find a soft landing pad on the folded-up lawn chairs of their parents. 

“Can we go to the pool?”  The Younger Sibling will ask, after a final handful of sunflower seeds.

“Sorry, Bud,” their parents will say.  “We have to be back at the field in an hour.”

Join us next week on Animal Planet‘s “Where the Wild Things Are” for a look at the dictionary definition of universal chaos: that time you decided to invite your four-year-old’s entire preschool class to his birthday party.

This week’s news has a swimming lesson and a barbecue.  Read on.

Minot’s Roosevelt Park Zoo is attempting to set the record for the world’s largest swimming lesson. (KX Net)

Fargo’s Johanna Zinke has created a business called Ramp Girl (she’s 10 years old) so that she can sell rare ramps she finds on her family hikes to area restaurants. (Fargo Forum)

Over 5,000 people came out to the 10th Annual Bakken BBQ – which broke records with 46 cooking companies – in order to raise money for Make-A-Wish North Dakota. (Dickinson Press)


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Superfan | June 1, 2022

If you’ve been watching the NHL Playoffs, you know that the Edmonton Oilers and the Colorado Avalanche are now competing in the Conference Finals; the winner of their series will play for the Stanley Cup.  If you’ve been reading North Dakota Nice for a while, you know that Kyle has loved (/hated) the Oilers for 42 years.  With that, I’m going to interrupt my regularly-scheduled programming (next week will be a story about the long weekend, so you’ll need to pretend like that’s still fresh in your mind) to tell you what it’s like to be married to a hockey – and specifically an Oilers – superfan.

Even if you don’t know anything about hockey, you probably know Wayne Gretzky.  Wayne Gretzky played for the Edmonton Oilers from 1979 to 1988; during that time the team won four Stanley Cups.  The call of the Wayne was so strong that little Kyle Kosior broke ranks from his family’s long-time Montreal Canadiens legacy to don the navy blue and orange.  This switch was a CHOICE because the Kosiors had collectively been Canadiens fans since the 50’s, when his grandmother’s cousin played for the team.

Little Kyle immersed himself in everything Oilers.  By the time he was ten, he knew the stats and minute-by-minute gameplay of every player on both the Oilers and their farm team.  Also when he was ten, the Oilers – the defending Stanley Cup Champs – had advanced to Game 7 against the Calgary Flames in an early Playoff series.  In the third period, the game tied, an Oilers player named Steve Smith went to pass the puck back to a teammate, missed his target, and hit the leg of his own goalie (Grant Fuhr) to score on his own net.  Little Kyle flung himself on his bed, sobbing in despair.  He cried all through the night and through school the next day.

Twenty years later, Kyle found himself in an elevator with Steve Smith.  Kyle was carrying a case of beer (a gift to a friend), and Steve asked him for one – and Kyle, the guy who has literally given people the coat off his back, channeled that inner ten-year-old and did about the meanest thing he’d ever done in his life.  He looked Steve dead in the eyes and said, “No.”

(As a hockey mom, I’d like to say that Steve Smith is not the reason the Oilers didn’t advance in the playoffs.  Hockey is a team sport, and if the Oilers were so great they would have won that game/series regardless.  As someone who loves Kyle, however, I will continue to keep my mouth shut.)

The Oilers won their last Stanley Cup in 1990.  Since then, they have…what’s a gentle way to put this?…sucked.  While some of the Oilers fans drifted away to less-craptastic teams, Kyle remained steadfast.  Also, miserable.  When we met in 2004, his M.O. would be to watch a game, stomp around the apartment swearing for fifteen minutes (social media wasn’t a thing back then; now he does his grumping on Twitter), and then toss and turn all night.  I found these tantrums so enticing that I decided to marry him.

The Oilers managed to enter the Playoffs in 2006, the same year we were wed.  As much as he tried to play it cool, Kyle was hopping with excitement.  That is not an exaggeration; we were living in an apartment on the south end of Grand Forks at the time, and Kyle would bounce between the living room and bedroom to shake off his nerves before every puck drop.  Despite decades of losses, ten-year-old (but now thirty) Kyle was so convinced of their success that he decided to host a watch party with a large group of his law school friends.  Unsurprisingly, the Oilers lost – and Kyle stood up from his Oilers easy chair (which was set below his Oilers wall clock, Oilers wall decals, and Oilers framed autographed pictures) and left.  Not out of the room; out of the apartment.  He came back a few hours later, long after all of our guests had left.

“Where did you go?”  I asked him the next morning.

“For a walk,” he said.

“Where did you walk?”  I asked.

“To East Grand Forks,” he said. (note: About 14 miles roundtrip)

I’ve now been Oilers fan-adjacent for nearly twenty years.  In that time:

  • Kyle tried (unsuccessfully) to name our first-born Ryan Smyth Pisani Kosior after two of his favorite players.
  • In 2017, Kyle didn’t watch two games out of disgust, and has since spent the last five years telling me about the time he didn’t watch those two games.
  • He has followed, and unfollowed, and refollowed every single Oilers blog and fan on Twitter. He has also cancelled multiple dinner dates because the Oilers lost earlier in the evening and “He just didn’t feel up to it.”
  • He has taken our sons to see an Oilers game every year of their lives (excluding 2020), and I finally had to lay down the law on gifts of Oilers merch because I have enough t-shirts and jerseys to outfit the entire team.
  • When I suggested that maybe he find a back-up team to follow to help balance out the Oilers suckiness, he didn’t talk to me for an hour.

Now the Oilers are in the Playoffs, and poor Kyle has had a permanent stomachache since about November.  I told one of our friends that he’s so tensed up that I’m not sure he’s gone to the bathroom.  The ten-year-old in him is still hopping with excitement; the grown man is so afraid to watch that he’ll turn off the TV in the middle of the game and I’ll have to refresh Twitter (or go into another room with a TV, because the Playoff games this year have been pretty fun) until I see that they are winning.

By the time I post this story the Oilers and Avs will have played their first game, and I wanted to get this on record before the series advances – because…well, because twenty years of because.  I asked Kyle the other day if he was happy about the Oilers, and he thought about it for a long time and then said, “I don’t know.”

And that’s what it’s like being married to a superfan.

The photo above is of Kyle watching an Oilers game.  Look at how much he’s enjoying it.

This week’s news has lemonade, fish, and 13,850 miles.  Read on.

A group of Hunter second-graders raised $2,016 via a one-day lemonade stand to help one of their classmates purchase a new vehicle.(Facebook)

Time to borrow a fishing rod, because North Dakota residents 16 and older can fish for free on June 4 and 5. (KX Net)

A little (or even a lot) of rain didn’t deter the annual North Dakota Memorial Day ceremony.  As Maj. Gen Al Dohrmann, North Dakota National Guard adjutant general, said, “It’s a beautiful day.  Any day we can gather and honor our veterans and honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice is beautiful.” (Bismarck Tribune)

Jamestown’s Helene Neville has spent the last 12 years running across every state in the country – totally 13,850 miles – and is the “fifth and oldest person to ever run the perimeter of the continental U.S.” (Jamestown Sun)

Congratulations to the newly-crowned Mrs. North Dakota America, Mrs. North Dakota American, Miss North Dakota for America Strong, Teen Miss for North Dakota, Junior Teen for North Dakota, Junior Miss for Grand Forks, Little Miss for Grand Forks, Junior Miss for Grand Forks 2023, Miss Red River Valley for America Strong, and Mrs. Downtown Grand Forks America! (Grand Forks Herald)

I know this isn’t a typical North Dakota Nice story, but I happen to know the Vanderpans and they are the nicest family and I think it’s awesome that Matt is sharing his story to raise awareness of stroke symptoms. (Grand Forks Herald)

And finally, a little North Dakota Nice from Facebook, courtesy of a a North Dakota Associate Poet Laureate:


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Hockey Bubbes | May 11, 2022

My ten-year-old’s hockey team closed out the spring season with a tournament in Minneapolis.  As his mother, I’m legally obligated to tell all of society (but, like, in a casual way) that they went undefeated, and won the championship, and my son and his friend (the team’s two goalies; they each play half-periods) had two shut-outs and the whole thing was very fun.

My parents live in the Cities and attended all of Ten’s games.  The championship was held on Mother’s Day – and so my mom recommended (by saying “Amanda, you need to drink more water and your next column will be about me”) that I use this week’s story to honor those mothers and grandmothers and aunties and next-door neighbors who give the entirety of their love and support to a child athlete without actually caring about the sport itself.  My mom calls them “Hockey Bubbes” because my children call her Bubbe (the Yiddish word for grandma) and so I’ll use that for simplicity’s sake – but really, Hockey Bubbe-dom transcends all activities, genders, ages, taste for concession stand hot dogs, and geographies.

There are three rules to being a Hockey Bubbe.

The first is that you can’t be bothered to learn the rules of the game.  My mother is currently teaching herself another language and has watched hundreds of hockey games; and while those two things are unrelated they are proof that she has both the intelligence and access to understand the general nuances of the sport.  She does not, however, have the interest.  As such, 100% of her understanding of hockey is that the puck has to go into the net more times on one side than the other in order for the game to end.  She knows that icing is more than a topping on a cake…but she definitely can’t identify an icing call when it happens. 

This lack of knowledge does not keep her from commenting on the game, of course; which she does from the puck drop to the handshake (I also have this gift of non-stop chatter, and I’d like to formally and deeply apologize to any past or future moms who have the misfortune of sitting in my general vicinity.  Thank you for not turning around and saying, “Jeepers creepers, Amanda, shut your piehole.”).  A Hockey Bubbe’s commentary is accurate maybe once every thousand times.  She will yell “Hustle!” during an end-zone penalty kill, or “Get to the net!” to a player who is already off-side.  At this recent tournament, the buzzer rang to indicate the end of the period.  One of the opposing players tipped the puck into the net as he skated back to the bench.

“Goal!”  My mom shouted at the ref.

“The period is over,” I said.

“So what?”  She said.

“So…the game is stopped,” I said.

“Well, that doesn’t seem very fair,” she said.

Fairness is the second rule of Hockey Bubbe-ness.  In the case of my mother, she wants everyone to have fun and feel good but she also only wants her own grandchildren to win.  As my son is the goalie, this means that she demands that every game end with a 1-0 score.

It also means she doesn’t like any cheering against her own grandchildren and/or their teammates.  My son was scored upon in the second game and the other team (unsurprisingly) celebrated.

“That is terrible,” my mother said.  “Look, they made him feel sad.”  And then, loudly, “That is terrible.”

A few seconds later, my son’s team scored, and my mother jumped to her feet and cheered,

“Great job, [kid’s name]!  Great job, [another kid’s name]!  Great job, [a third kid’s name who was not on the ice]!  Whoop whoop whoop whoop!  Beat their butts!”

Finally, the last rule of Hockey Bubbe-ing is to have opinions on everything.  Here are a few of the exact comments that came out of my mother’s mouth over the weekend:

“What was that penalty?  Hooking?  I think that was tripping.”

“That ref needs to stop blowing his whistle, I have things to do today.”

“I don’t like the color of those jerseys compared to the other team.”  And then, when it was communicated that the Home team always wears white, “I want to see a few alternates.”

Obviously, there is no greater fan than a Hockey Bubbe.  Also, obviously, there is no one who can move on from a game and onto the next activity faster.  To quote my mother when my son emerged from the locker room after his championship win: “You’re the best goalie in the world, now let’s go to lunch.” 

The photo above is of the boys holding their championship trophy – because, you know, legal obligation.

This week’s news has an interactive playground and not one, not two, but THREE TV shows.  Read on.

Connor George has a sweet new playset thanks to Make-a-Wish North Dakota. (Jamestown Sun)

Heart River Elementary School now has the first interactive indoor playground in North Dakota, which uses touch projection to keep kids active. (Dickinson Press)

Bismarck’s Cody Adolphson is the winner of the History Channel’s “Forged in Fire,” a TV show where bladesmiths recreate historical weapons. (Hot 97.5)

Congratulations to Halliday’s Chloe Fredericks, who made it all the way to the finale of NBC’s “American Song Contest.” (KFYR TV)

The Badlands will be front and center in a two-part NOVA science series called “Dinosaur Apocalypse,” which will feature the findings from a fossil site near Bowman. (Fargo Forum)

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