Niagara Gazette

Features

November 19, 2012

CRIB NOTES: Sometimes it takes cross-country trips to get to know the kids

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Rigby also knows Spanish. We were playing with neighbors who were only speaking Spanish. They left to go inside, and I prompted Riggs to say goodbye. Without my urging, he blurted out, “Adios, amigos!” I shockingly asked how he knew to say that, and he gave me a surly, “I don’t know, Dad! I just do!”

Penny, meanwhile, has developed a somewhat saintly level of compassion. The way she interacted with other little kids on our playground excursions was nothing short of amazing. She shared the ribbons she found on the ground — even tearing them in half — helped the younger ones climb up the ladders and made sure everyone was involved in the games they played, even the little shy girl who kept retreating to her dad.

Unless another woman steps up in the next 30 years, Penny apparently will also become the first female president in our great nation’s history. I don’t get to see her interact much with other kids, but she’s vivacious and takes charge without being pushy. She even negotiated entry for Rigby into the Girls Club she’d founded at the park, persuading the other two female members to bend the rules for her little brother.

Penny’s understanding of the world around her in general is expanding more quickly than I can keep pace with. She got her first lesson about Sept. 11 from me at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and said she was sad but the firemen who went in were brave. While there, she also heard the term “Iran” for the first time but swiftly deduced our soldiers will keep her safe. And while watching “To Kill a Mockingbird,” she knew enough to know Atticus Finch was on the right side of that plot.

She’s also become quite the innocent conniver — and has taken her little brother on as her padawan. If I turn them loose in the park near their great-aunt’s house for 90 minutes or more, they’re complaining when I drag them away and ready to keep running. But as soon as we cross the street, they start up. First Rigby, shuffling in front me with arms outstretched: “Carry me!”

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