Tyler Petersen of Hatton, North Dakota


Tyler Petersen of Hatton, North Dakota

In a big red granary that used to store threshed grain, Tyler Petersen (7) and his brother, Dain (5), have gathered some of their favorite toys. They spend hours in the old building, making up stories and playing games together. Tyler and Dain adopted the granary as their playhouse after their grandfather helped them clean it out while he was visiting their home in Hatton, North Dakota.

The Petersens recently moved to North Dakota from Lincoln, Nebraska, where Tyler and Dain’s father, Brent, was attending school. He now works as a weed scientist, and he is the bishop of the Grand Forks North Dakota First Ward. The boys’ mother, Stacey, is the second counselor in the ward Primary presidency, and she often volunteers to help in their classrooms at school. Although the Petersens do not farm the property around their home, they enjoy living in a farming community. Tyler says he misses his neighborhood friends in Lincoln but thinks that living in the country will help him to grow up big and strong.

Since no children live nearby, Tyler and Dain most often play with each other. They like to dress up with hats and shields and explore the woods around their home. They have discovered a fallen tree with a hollow space just big enough to sit in at its base. In the large loft of the tall red barn near their house, the boys play basketball using hoops that their dad has hung at just the right level for them. Outside they ride their bikes and have races to see which bike “needs greasing.”

On days when it is too cold to go outside, the boys like to play with building blocks in their bedroom. Tyler says he likes to play with them because he can “build one thing, wreck it, and build something else.” One of their favorite inside activities is playing with their dad’s miniature tractor collection. They line the tractors up and examine them closely one by one to figure out how they would be used. Sometimes during the summer, one of the neighborhood farmers will give the boys a ride on a real tractor or combine.

Tyler has chores to do every day: make his bed, pick up his toys, sweep the kitchen floor, dry the dinner dishes, and do one extra job of his mom’s choosing. If he does his chores every day for the whole week, his parents give him an allowance. Tyler is learning to pay tithing on the money that he earns.

He enjoys his CTR class in Primary, and his favorite Primary song is “Book of Mormon Stories.” Every morning during breakfast, his dad reads to the family from the Book of Mormon. Tyler likes the part about Nephi and his brothers going back to Jerusalem for the brass plates.

Tyler’s favorite subject in school is reading, and he likes hearing his mom read to him at night, especially from A Wrinkle in Time.

When Tyler grows up, he wants to be a scientist like his dad, or a cartoonist, or an engineer who builds bridges and jets, or a comedian, or maybe a restaurant owner, or … Whatever career Tyler decides on, he will enjoy using his creativity and imagination.

What Tyler likes most about his parents is that they love him and spend time with him. His brother, Dain, he says, is his best friend. Although the Petersens have few neighbors or nearby ward members, they are not lonely. They are close to those who matter most to them—each other.

[photos] Photography by Tryn Paxton and Corliss Clayton

[photo] 1. In the loft of the barn, where the boys play basketball

[photo] 2. Tyler Petersen

[photo] 3. Tyler and Dain walking home from the bus stop. They are the only members of the Church in their school

[photo] 4. At the top of the stairs

[photo] 5. Farmers’ fields surround the Petersen’s home

[photo] 6. Playing with Dad’s tractor collection

[photo] 7. Plenty of room to run

[photo] 8. Playing on the slide