My name is Charlie Bumpers and I’m in fourth grade.
I’ve got a dog named Ginger — she’s our family dog, but mostly mine, since I feed her and walk her, and also have to clean up after her, if you know what I mean.
I am, unfortunately, stuck in the middle of our family — my brother Matt is two years older and thinks he’s the boss of everything, including me. He’s wrong, but he’ll never admit it. He’s also pretty funny, which I like when he is not making jokes about me. He also knows a lot of stuff and has a lot of ideas. Some of them are good.
My sister Mabel is six. My dad always calls her “the Squirt” but I call her “the Squid” and you should, too, since it’s funnier, though it might get her mad. And she has a temper! She is a little sister, so of course she is annoying, and when we fight I am the one who gets blamed.
Neither Matt or the Squid are leaving soon, so I have to live with them. When you’re nine years old, you don’t get to make decisions, like who you live with or whether you can stay up until nine-thirty or even ten, which Matt gets to do.
What do I like? Soccer. A lot. I play on a team in the fall, and also played on a team last spring though it’s hard to decide because I like baseball, too, and my mom says I can only do one of them. They should invent a game called baseball-soccer and that would solve my problem.
One thing I do that drives my parents crazy is kick the soccer ball against the side of the garage. Once I kicked it too hard and broke a pane out of a window. My dad made me pay for the new glass. It cost seven dollars and eighty-four cents. He said that ought to teach me a lesson. I still kick the ball at the garage when he is not there, but I have not broken another window. Yet.
I also like ping-pong and wish my family would get a table like my friend Tommy Kasten has in his basement, which is great, except when he hits it just right and the pole gets in the way. He practices that shot and it drives me crazy.
Tommy also has an X-box with a bunch of games. I tell Dad that Tommy is obviously not ruined by having an X-box, so I would not be ruined either. My dad says “How convenient! You have a place to play whatever you play on an X-box.” Ha ha ha. Matt is united with me in our pleas for an X-box, but our parents are dictators and horrible people. That’s what Matt says even though he doesn’t mean it (I told you he was funny).
Tommy is my best friend. He lives nine blocks from me, which I know because I counted. And I have walked there a couple of times. His sister Carla is friends with the Squid, which works out pretty well as long as they’re not in the same room with us. Or maybe even in the same house. Sometimes I go to Tommy’s house to play, and Carla comes to our house, so we are nine blocks away from little sisters — which is a good distance. Except if they were in Antarctica, which might be better.
I have three video games I can play on the computer, and my favorite one is “Dark World,” which my mom doesn’t like. She bought it for me even though she doesn’t like it. I won that time. But she won, too, because I only get half an hour a day to play it. I keep trying to tell her it’s educational, but she doesn’t believe me.
My favorite TV show is Buck Meson — Detective from Andromeda. Buck Meson is a superhero who came from another planet to solve mysteries on earth. He can do this great thing with his eyes — shoot beams of electrons at people so they drop whatever weapons they’re holding. He never uses his power to hurt anyone. When the bad guys are about to do something really terrible, Buck always says, “I DON’T THINK SO!” Then he does his electron stare. It’s pretty cool.
Every summer we go to a cabin on the lake up north for two weeks. My mom, Matt, Mabel, Ginger, and I stay for the whole time, then my dad comes for the second week. The cabin belonged to my great-grandfather and great-grandmother, who I never met. There are four families that share the cabin — my different cousins and aunts and uncles — that’s why we just get two weeks a summer. There is not even a TV there, so I couldn’t play X-box even if I had one. There is a canoe and a rowboat, though. And fishing poles. And a lot of floats and a wooden raft that you we swim out to. There are loons on the lake and this summer, they made a nest very near our cabin. The baby loons hatched while we were there, and that night the mom and dad loons made noises all night. It sounds scary until you’re used to it, then you love it.
The summer is when my mom reads to us — at night before we go to sleep. Even Matt still listens sometimes. If he makes too many dumb comments about the story, though, Mom makes him leave. Mom used to read to me every night, but hasn’t done it in the past year. She still reads to the Squid. I wish she would read to me, but I feel like I shouldn’t bother her. I can read for myself, though it’s not the same. She reads better.
Another thing I want is a drum set. My parents keep saying “We’ll see,” which means “We hope you forget.” And my mom asked me if I wouldn’t rather play the piano. I said no, I want to play the drums.
That is all I have to say about myself, except for what I say in the books.