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)


Let’s Be (Official) Pals!

Sign up for the weekly North Dakota Nice email and get a story and the news delivered to your inbox once a week (and never more than that).

A thing of beauty | May 18, 2022

I am writing this from a massage (which is aggressively vibrating like the engine room in a submarine) chair at the nail salon, where I am getting a pedicure.  Since you didn’t ask, my polish color is a coral-ish named “I Eat Mainely Lobster” – which is purely aspirational since the last time I had lobster was 2021 and it was a part of a bisque so its statehood was unknown.  I am getting a pedicure because society has generally agreed that painted toenails are a basic expectation of summertime grooming, like wearing a bathing suit under your clothes – or, in the case of my husband, as clothes – just in case.

I am very aware of society’s base-level expectations of beauty because I am the dictionary definition of doing the absolute bare minimum.  The other day I styled my hair after a lobster bisque-esque period of time of braids and ponytails, and three of my coworkers asked, “Whoa, why are you all dressed up?”  The week prior, I was complaining to my friend that I am starting to look old and she said, “Well…do you use…some…thing?”  Not, “Do you use this serum?” or “Have you tried this treatment?”  Just, “Do you put absolutely anything on your face besides the Earth’s oxygen?”

I wasn’t always like this.  Back in THE OLD DAYS, I would spend hours plucking and feathering and masking and filing, and squeezing things in and pushing things up, and saying “If I ever got a tattoo, it would be a permanent wing eyeliner” and “Ugh, no, I can’t wear that to Saturday brunch; that’s a Sunday brunch outfit.”  But then I became the mother of two boys, and it’s hard to put in a lot of effort when my target audience thinks the perfect look is a baseball cap, cut-off sweatpants, and a box of farts.

My sweet, darling, muddy, oblivious personal universe has very low expectations of my appearance because, as Kyle says, “They like me for me” (and for my ability to make macaroni and cheese).  For example, my ten-year-old tells me I look beautiful when I wear a pair of pajama bottoms with a satin waist-tie.  When I ask my seven-year-old to pick out earrings for me, he always goes to a fist-sized pair of sparkly jack-o-lanterns that I got for a Halloween costume because “They are the prettiest.”  That same seven-year-old went through a period where he would wipe things on my clothes (usually boogers) so that his own didn’t get dirty.

As my boys are perfectly satisfied with my appearance, it’s hard for me to justify (to myself) breaking away from all the mac-and-cheese compliments for spa treatments and shopping trips.  While I used to spend hours upon luxurious hours combing through clothing racks and testing out makeup samples, now my mantra is “Get in, get out, get back into those booger-wipers.”  A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to shop for a bit with another mom, and it had been so long since I’d browsed that I’d almost forgotten how to do it – as evidenced by the fact that I bought a crop-top see-through army green tank-top that I’m apparently going to wear on my leg because that’s the only place it will look good.

I know for a fact that my sons would go with me to get a pedicure if I asked.  They would sit there and hum along with the chair vibration and drink their little bottle of water and have a grand time – and then never willingly go back.  I know this because my seven-year-old recently pulled out my box of nail stuff and demanded a manicure, and I got halfway through one hand when he said, “That’s good,” and then spent the next week with one-half of one-hand haphazardly painted until he figured out he could pick off the remaining polish with a wooden sword.

Even though pedicures pull me away from my pajamas and fart boxes, and even though I have a nail salon’s worth of polish under my sink, I will do them forever because if my last bastion of beauty is lobster coral nails, you can bet your bippy that I’m tipping my sword to the professionals.

I’m not alone in this sentiment because I’m currently sitting next to a lovely woman who told me that she gets pedicures because she recently had knee surgery and it’s good for the scars when the pedicurist massages her legs.  “I suppose I could do it myself,” she said with North Dakota pragmatism.  “Why on Earth would you do that?”  I said.

At some point in the near future my children will no longer want to hang out with me, and then (possibly) I’ll get back to the glamorous life.  Or, maybe I’ll create a club for situationally-similar moms where we organize day-long fishing-and-bonding trips for our children and their fathers at resorts that are conveniently located near spas and mini-malls.  In the meantime, I will admire my perfectly-painted toes from the driver’s seat of a go-kart while my seven-year-old eloquently shouts, “We’re going so fast that my spit is coming out of my mouth!  VROOM VROOM VROOM!”

The photo above is of Kyle at said go-kart track in Fargo.   You’ll be happy to know that he is tall enough to ride the bumper cars.

This week’s news is about a marathoner, a makeover, and a mayor.  Read on.

Edmore’s Holden Mack is looking for the group of people who rescued him from his burning truck so that he can thank them in person. (Grand Forks Herald)

Alivia Lowery was Williston’s Mayor for a Day thanks to her award-winning essay. (Williston Herald)

After running his first marathon in Fargo in 2015, Grand Forks’ Nate Lizakowski is set to complete 50 marathons in 50 states. (Grand Forks Herald)

Children’s Park in Medora got a sweet new makeover thanks to a volunteer crew of 80, who power washed and re-stained all of the wooden equipment and replaced the rubber mulch. (Dickinson Press)

The Minot Girl Scouts Troop 10028 earned a badge for kindness by planting flowers, bagging and carrying groceries, and handing out cookies. (KX Net)

Let’s Be (Official) Pals!

Sign up for the weekly North Dakota Nice email and get a story and the news delivered to your inbox once a week (and never more than that).

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)

Let’s Be (Official) Pals!

Sign up for the weekly North Dakota Nice email and get a story and the news delivered to your inbox once a week (and never more than that).