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Sunday, June 14, 2015

My elder son is heading, chronologically, toward teenhood. But his younger brother has achieved teen attitude way ahead of him.

We are starting, as parents, to need to deal with this awesome phenomenon called “attitude.” It’s not fun. And while I distinctly remember my own mother accusing me of the same thing when I was a preteen and teen (sorry, Mom) I really didn’t think it was going to be much of an issue with my own kids. They’re such happy-go-lucky boys … right?

They are. But they’re starting to push back, too. Normal, really, if exceedingly annoying. Every kid tries to see how far he or she can push.

It can be tough because, while we prefer letting our kids know exactly what they’re doing to incur parental wrath, attitude can be a difficult thing to quantify. My husband and I had a recent conversation about how to tell when Sam had crossed the line with any particular offense and independently both blurted out: “It’s the chin.”

It’s true. Just let him get reprimanded for talking back or breaking a rule for which he doesn’t see the purpose, and out goes The Chin. (Caps seem appropriate.)

The eyes narrow. The mouth becomes a narrow line. The Chin juts out.

“I didn’t do nothing.”

Forget the double negative. (Which, in this house of writers, is bad enough.) This line is enough to trip the wrath of Mom. “Kiddo, if I said you were doing something, you were doing something. I don’t want to hear that again.”

He knows when to apologize. He knows when to back off. (Mostly.) But The Chin … The Chin remains.

I’m telling myself that this is a normal phase in childhood development. I’m trying to remember that my boys are still happy-go-lucky, honest-to-goodness good kids the vast majority of the time.

And I’m going to try to ignore The Chin.


Buffalo's Canalside is a fun family-friendly place to go. (JILL KEPPELER / 
I can think of a time, not that far off, when I couldn’t have imagined saying that I spent a day with my children in downtown Buffalo.

Maybe that’s the country girl and suburban woman talking, but I fear it was true. However, it’s equally true that I spent Saturday doing just that … and we all had a ball.

The extended Keppeler clan, including my immediate family, sister-in-law and her daughters and mother-in-law, all trooped down to Canalside on Saturday for a picnic. (Following a stint at the Allentown Art Festival for some of us … let’s say most of us without a Y chromosome.) We claimed a picnic table, feasted on a spread that included cheese and fruit and other goodies, watched the kids play Frisbee and then headed over to take a try at the paddle/pedal boats for rent at the site of the former Aud, where the ice-skating rink was located this past winter.

That, I can tell you, was a major hit. The kids were small enough to fit the paddleboats, but you can also rent a 2- to 4-person pedal boat for slightly more. They would have spent all day out there if they could.

Canalside all on its own is enjoyable, but you can find out if there are any events going on at Starting Saturday, the paddle boats and pedal boats will be open seven days a week. For more information on those, visit

I love many parts of Western New York. But like many other people, I still remember that particular section of downtown when it was empty buildings and little else … and it’s just awesome to see it flourishing.

+Jill Keppeler is exhausted after spending the day at Allentown and Canalside, but had a wonderful day anyway. Follow her on Twitter @JillKeppeler or email her at

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