FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

Parents vs. Kids

Written By: Scot Butwell - Aug• 13•15

The most fun game of soccer I’ve ever played in my life came after I gave a suggestion to one of D’s soccer teachers.

D goes to “Break it Down” Total Sport every Saturday morning where he’s learned how to play basketball, baseball and now is learning to play soccer.

My suggestion was about how to better spread out the players on the field to prevent kids from clumping in one big mass.

Really, though, I was lobbying, for a parent vs. kids game. That’s how D’s teacher interpreted my comment (since I’d advocated a parent vs. kids baseball game.)

She suggested I form the parents together into a team for a scrimmage. Several moms said they’d never played soccer.

“Doesn’t matter,” I said. “Just kick the ball when it comes to you.”

Perfect.

That’s how it felt it felt on the field with the kids and parents who, moments earlier, had been sitting mostly separately in lawn chairs.

When I kicked the ball back to our goalie (as I’d seen U.S. women’s soccer players do in the World Cup), she yelled out, “What do I do with the ball?”

This is why it was perfect.

“We need a parenting class,” I heard one of the teachers say.

We kept score (at least, I did in my head), but I don’t the score mattered to most the kids or parents. I was running all over the field modeling enthusiasm, so I told myself.

Really I was having fun. I scored a goal and celebrated by running with my arms in the air. It was pure emotion, not manufactured. It was real, believe me.

Again, I was modeling expressing emotion with my whole body.

Ok.

The Wife will say the class is about D learning to play soccer. Not me becoming the center of his soccer class by running all over the field.

I get this. But I advocated for a parents-kids game because any skills is more caught than taught.

My hope is that D observed sports take effort and grit and it’s a joy kicking a ball and scoring a goal.

In the middle of the game, D ran up to me and hugged my waist. We embraced for a few seconds before I ran after the ball.

But I will remember this moment. At first, I was upset e wasn’t focused on the game.  Then I realized he was simply expressing joy and love.

As for the development of his soccer skills, his aggressive nature has yet to manifest itself on the field.

I can tell he’s got the basics down, and I plan to stand back and encourage him more to go all out.

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I’ll Try This

Written By: Scot Butwell - Aug• 13•15

mud slide

There was something missing about D and my trip to Adventure Park. We’d hammered nails, floated on a raft, and gone down a Mud Slide.

But I couldn’t quite shake the feeling there was something missing, and I wasn’t able to put my finger on what it was.

It wasn’t that everything felt a bit contrived from doing the same activities in the middle of the wilderness with paying three dollars.

Like kids in the Huckleberry Finn era used to fill the hours doing up to some point in the Twentieth Century.

That’s what the Wife thought…but, no, it was something else and I couldn’t figure it out.

Certainly, we had fun, but D seemed more energized listening to a Minion song on the way back come or…

Running with his friend C and two girls through a friend’s house while looking for clues to solve a murder crime.

raft

Later that night, while I was tucking D into bed, I asked D if he’d been afraid going down the Mud Slide.

I figured he must have been because it took two trips for him to get the courage to go down the Mud Slide.

The second time, he lifted his body with his arms, inching his way down the mud slide without putting his butt down   or legs out in from of him.

I thought he’d been afraid of sliding down the ramp. But it wasn’t the ramp. “I didn’t want to get my butt wet,” he told me.

Ah, this is what was missing…me understanding and knowing my son. D has always been an adrenaline junkie, but he is timed when it comes to water.

He then told me what was missing from his perspective, thought not in these terms.

adventure park

“I was disappointed that the Little Rascals were not at the clubhouse,” he said.

I laughed.

And he is right. The Little Rascals and Muppets can be more exciting than real life. Real life is hammering three nails into a board without it being turned into a clubhouse.

Why else would we all spend hours watching movies, reading books and playing video games, if these stories didn’t feel better than real life?

So I told him a story in bed about Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, and Becky Watson (Injun Joe is tomorrow night). It was a tall tale, and the best part of our day.

I also resolved to sign him up for an acting class tomorrow.

mud slide 2

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Beach Day

Written By: Scot Butwell - Aug• 12•15

beach 1

This was the calm before the proverbial storm. D and I went for lunch and an ice-cream came with his meal.

I knew he gluten-free and dairy-free, and I’d agreed not to buy him Chocolate Lava Cake or an Ice Cream Sundae.

I knew the Wife would get very upset if she found out.

And yet I let him have the ice-cream, and he devoured it, getting chocolate stains in his t-shirt…

beachy

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Haiku

Written By: Scot Butwell - Aug• 12•15

haiku 2

A white wall to jump off

Soft green grass to land on

Testing gravity’s limits.

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An Existential Question

Written By: Scot Butwell - Aug• 11•15

D and I were taking a hike at Wilderness Park when he stunned me with a existential question.

“Dad, when I am an adult, will you be in heaven?”

Now, when I was a kid, I don’t think I asked questions like these. Maybe, if I was lucky, one or two in all eighteen years of my childhood.

I was a simple kid. I just assumed my mom and dad would be around as adults. And Heaven was like a planet in the solar system.

Over the course of the next few days, I considered how there were several ways (a few, actually) that I could have answered his question.

The truth is, only God knows the beginning and end of every person’s life. He has an appointed time, I believe, for every person’s birth and death.

There’s a scripture to support this…Psalm 139.

All the days ordained for me

Were written in your book

Before one of them came to be.

When I told the Wife about D’s question, she thought I should have gone with this route, that only God knows when a person goes to Heaven.

However, I think D was looking for something other than a theologically correct response. That wasn’t why he asked the question.

So my immediate response was “yes, I will be here when you’re an adult” as if it were guaranteed, like a warranty for a product.

I could sense that he wanted emotional assurance…that I would be part of his adult life…and this was his reason for his question.

I want him to feel secure about the future, and as a seven-year-old, I don’t want him worrying about his life as an adult.

Perhaps unrelated, or not…D has been listening Pixar’s “Lava” Song every day on You Tube. It’s from a short film at the beginning of “Inside Out.”

Strangely, I think the film inspired his question. In the film, a man volcano sings a love song, hoping to find his true love.

The man volcano becomes shriveled up and grey, and as he is about to go under the water, his desire for love is unfulfilled…

When a lady volcano, who has been listening to his song for years, explodes up from the ocean right in front of him…

And then he goes under water and hears her sing his song and shoots back up next to her, finding his true love.

I think the chorus in particular relates to D’s question:

I have a dream

 I hope it will come true

 You are here with me.

 And I am here with you.

 I wish that earth, sea, and sky up above

Will send me someone to lava.

And the bridge too:

I have a dream I hope it would come true

 That you will grow old with me, an I grow old with you.

I could be wrong. But I think this song (since he listens to it repeatedly) got him thinking about my mortality.

I know he wants me to be there…just like the volcanos sang.

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Gluten-free Cookies

Written By: Scot Butwell - Aug• 11•15

This is one of those activities D and I hurried to complete before his mom came home.

 It’s not that she would have objected to D and I making Chocolate Chip Cookies (as long as they were gluten-free).

 Rather, she would have asked a zillion questions.

 “Do you know what your doing?”

 “Do you have all the ingredients?”

 “What bowl are you going to use?”

 And made a zillion comments.

Ok, fine.

So we did it my way.

Forget about the vanilla extract, cracking the egg, mashing the butter and dough, that was the same as his mom’s way.

The fun came with the dough. It was dry and stirring was ineffective.

I began mixing it with my hands (washed) and licking my fingers.

D noticed and his hands went into a orgasmic spasm.

“Hey, that’s too much–just a little.”

I could hear the Wife’s voice in my head.

So I made sure (as I would have anyways) he ate teaspoon-size scoops.

My only regret is, when the cookies cooled down, I cleaned the Fridge instead of eating cookies with D.

Maybe it didn’t matter to him, or maybe it did…but I wish I would ate cookies with my son.

The Fridge was a mess, but it could wait.

The Wife didn’t make any comments when she returned. She didn’t object and asked only a few questions.

 The only thing she really wanted to know was, “Did the box say gluten-free?”

 I thought she would check the box trash can. But, as far as I know, she didn’t. 

 Tomorrow, it’s gluten-free brownies.

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We Did It!

Written By: Scot Butwell - Aug• 11•15

knotts 1

You have to see an amusement park through a kid’s eyes.

You just have to.

It’s the only way to do it.

No adding up the cost of the day.

No thinking about $4.99 for a small bag of chocolate golden coins.

Yummies, he called them.

$14.99 for cheeseburger, fries, and coke.

No calculating the number of rides you’ve been on in the first hour.

No committing adultery with your eyes at the female ice-skaters.

I wanted to see Knott’s Berry Farm through a kid’s eyes, but I mostly failed miserably.

However, there were moments I succeeded like on the Calico Mine Ride.

“Hey, this is exactly like the tunnel in Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland,” I told D.

As we careened through a dark mining tunnel, D and I sitting beside one another, I know D was thinking the same thing.

“Where are the fireflies?” he asked.

D’s eyes grew big at the sight of mummy miners. They showed fear at the spooky music. And mine did, too.

From reflecting his eyes.

Knotts b 2

But, rather than see Knott’s through a kid’s eyes, I mostly felt preoccupied by constantly monitoring D’s behavior the rest of the day.

Our goal was for D to stay in a calm, regulated state. Sure, we wanted D to enjoy Knott’s and have fun, but by keeping his body regulated.

That was the Wife’s primary objective, and if we were all to have fun, it had to be mine too. So it was.

The Wife frantically asked me three times at lunch, “What are we going to do if D has a meltdown? What…ARE.. WE… GOING …TO … DO?”

She felt like the panicky character from Sesame Street named Telly. Needless to say, my approach would have been more relaxed and carefree

Yes, our son needs order and structure, just with some freedom mixed too. He also needs to feel his parents enjoy being with him.

Nevertheless, our first trip here, despite the distractions of candy stores and temptations to run, was an unquestioned success.

D was compliant and regulated. The Wife was firm but flexible, even loosening up on the holding a parent’s hand rule.

Ok. The Wife will say I got huffy a few times (and she’s right) and held my hand up (a few times) when she told me something.

But that was only because I wanted to enjoy the park without thinking about D’s behavior every five seconds or so. I know, she will say, I am a parent.

I was on the verge of letting go of my beef when D and I were suspended atop the Ferris Wheel.

They were loading new riders one bucket at a time and D and we were stationed in the top position.

D and I were screaming, pretending to be freaked out when I got a text from the Wife: “His feet should not be dangling over the side.”

Ok.

But I know the day wasn’t about me. It us about the Wife and I being united and having fun together as a family.

On these criteria, I know our trip was a success. The Wife and I even discussed getting season passes.

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Kids in Candyland

Written By: Scot Butwell - Aug• 10•15

Kids in Candyland

D stood at the mic to deliver his big line.

Well, first…

He bucked his leg once like a horse in a rodeo so excited was he standing behind a girl and waiting for her to say her line.

He was that excited.

His grandmother missed his leg kick once up in the air, but his mom confirmed that yes he chomping at the bit.

In a novel, they call this part of the story the climax, the part when something must die so that something new can be born.

When it was his turn, he touched the mic with his hand, head slightly bowed. A sea of faces was staring back at him.

Then he said: “What are you looking for Sweet Thing?”

The audience and I erupted in laughter, my head jolted backwards, and D had made his stage debut in “Kids in Candyland.”

It was the end of his two weeks at Camp Curtain Call, and he’d done what protagonists should do, to accept the call of action.

He’d sang and danced, following the sequences of dance movements, performing with a huge smile during the entire performance.

There was fear in the beginning. He stood frozen as everyone else danced. Perhaps feeling embarrassed by the audience.

He may have had difficulty dancing while scanning the audience for his parents. But he didn’t miss a beat from there.

I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. He was beaming and full of joy, and so was I in the back row of the theatre.

He’d talked about wanting to take an acting class, and after much improvising in the living room, he was now on stage performing.

I will always remember his look of joy. He knew. He knew he’d accomplished something big. He was living his dream.

It wasn’t easy–he rehearsed probably too many times to count. But he’d done it.

He was part of an ensemble of sixty kids and fifteen kids the Jolly Rancher group. Dancing and singing and beaming and radiating joy.

I was so proud.

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Play Date 2.0*

Written By: Scot Butwell - Aug• 09•15

play d 2

This is what happens when D gets together with two brothers for a play date…they play together for awhile and the baby sister became the center of attention.

p date 1

They walked beside her, taking turns going down the slide with her or pushing her on the swing.  The asterisk in the title for is my not becoming the center of attention during his play date, letting him play with his friends on his own.

play d swing

 

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A Short Trip

Written By: Scot Butwell - Aug• 09•15

train one

I’d been talking about taking a train trip for the last five years. I’ve been given cash for birthdays for a trip and had not stepped aboard a train.

So this was a trip I had to take even if was only an hour and change to my destined location and back on Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner.

The Pacific Surfliner, in case you don’t know, serves San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Orange County, LA, and San Diego with stops at smaller cities.

Business class passengers receive comp beverages, light snacks, and a newspaper. I rode in the coach and brought these accessories myself.

I didn’t really have a destination in mind. My two options were either North towards Santa Barbara or South to San Diego.

I had not made up my mind even by the time I was standing in line to buy a ticket. I just knew this was a trip I needed to take.

train two

“What’s a destination 30 minutes from San Diego?” I asked the ticket attendant, who looked at me like I was certifiably crazy.

I ended up choosing Oceanside (forty minutes from San Diego) only because it allowed me to be less selfish and not take an entire day to myself.

I realized Santa Barbara would have been better destination while looking out at industrial building and graffiti on the LA river canal walls.

Several years ago, the Wife and I took the Coast Starlight to Santa Barbara, and it has an observation car with large windows with pristine coastal views.

I remember getting mooned by a person along the tracks—not that it was the highlight of the trip. It was just unforgettable.

But the views on the Surfliner turned from industry to serene, idyllic beach views the further we got from Los Angeles.

It wasn’t the long train adventure like the one I want to take one day from LA to Seattle through the rural beauty of Oregon.

Basically, when I reached my destination, I got off and hung out for forty minutes in the station and then looped back to the start of my trip.

But, when I disembarked, I felt a satisfaction walking among the passengers, knowing I’d gone somewhere new and different.

It didn’t live up to my fantasies of train travel because of the short distance. But it served its purpose to keep my dream alive. 

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