FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

Captain Underpants

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jan• 16•18

Last year, D and I came home from Barnes & Noble with a book called The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby, and L’s response to me was: “Why would you let him buy that book?!”

Now if your’ve never heard of Super Diaper Baby or Deputy Doo Doo, among the other characters by children’s author Dav Pilkey, that is because you have not had a child under ten in the past two decades.

Or, maybe, you’re one of the parents who have attempted to ban Pilkey’s popular kids’ series, The Adventures of Captain Underpants, because you consider poop, farts, gas, and barf to be offensive topics for a kid’s book.

Well, yesterday, L and D returned home with three books in The Adventures of Captain Underpants seriesYep, she did (after ripping me for buying Super Diaper Baby).

She bought a book that has villains with names like Professor Poopy Pants, the Turbo Toilet 2000, Tippy Tinkletrousers, Wedgie Woman, the Bionic Booger Boy, Sir Stinks a Lot, and my favorite Deputy Doo Doo.

Something has happened to L.

It’s like her brain has been kidnapped by the zombie cafeteria ladies at Jerome Horwitz school where George and Harold pull an endless amount of funny pranks and she has been given the brain of a more tolerant mother.

How else do you explain this?

The other night D chose Captain Underpants for a bedtime story with his mom. Normally, she would have told him to pick another book, but she said, “Ok, we can read one chapter from Captain Underpants and then a chapter from your devotional.”

And they read the entire book, and she didn’t flinch while reading lines like “x” or “c.”

D looked at her at one point as she read the words “fake doo doo,” and I was surprised he didn’t pinch her to make sure it wasn’t all a dream.

This summer, she constantly told him to stop singing “We will, we will, fart you” to Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” D picked it up from his friend C, and he finally stopped singing after she quit making such a big deal out of it.

Indeed, something has happened to L.

I’m not saying she has converted to “bathroom” humor, but she has accepted boys think words like poop and fart are hilarious, and the Captain Underpants series is a funny book.

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The Sunday Paper

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jan• 02•18

reading paper

We are both reading our favorite sections of grandma’s newspaper, me the Arts & Books section and D the comics. D thinks the price of tomatoes is too high, pineapples just right, and gourds too low.

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Move Over, Monopoly

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jan• 02•18

IMG-1547Move over, Monopoly, Clue, and Apples to Apples. There is a new board game in town in time for Christmas.

It has a red and green playing board with colorful lollipops, mounds of chocolate cherries and gingerbread cottages surrounded by cotton candy mountains that is best played with a cup of hot chocolate and cookies.

Your game piece will travel through Kooky Cotton Blvd., Heavenly Chocolate Ave., and Lolipop Lane, moving forward or backwards depending on whether you answer a question correctly or incorrectly.

Beware, if your Christmas knowledge is below par, your may find your game piece remaining near the starting line, but there is hope for you, thanks to a rule created by the game designer.

The player in last gets first crack at answering any question missed by the other players, so there is always a ray of hope for the player in last place to make comeback of epic proportions.

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Here is a sample question: Can you name name five toys on the island of misfit toys in the Christmas classic Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer… 

The Spotted Elephant!

The Cowboy who rides an ostrich!

The train with square wheels!

Charley in the Box!

How about this one: Can you name all nine of Santa’s Reindeer? Let’s see there’s Dasher and Dancer, Prancer and Vixon, Comet and Cupid, Donner and Blitzen and, oh yes, Rudolph.

But can you do it under pressure with thirty seconds ticking down, and with the other players staring at you, waiting for you to get flustered? Or to kindly give you a clue or two?

It is, after all, the Christmas season. Grinchiness may land you on Santa’s Naught List, but helping others may get you on the Big Guy’s Nice List.

This game will create loads of fun and laughter among family and friends as you answer questions from Christmas movies we’ve all seen year after year and gradually move to the finish line.

Just don’t miss a question when you roll a six or you will move back six spaces, bringing temporary groans, but that is all part of the fun, agony and suspense of playing the game.

The game was tested by five weblos and the hour they played the game passed like a train in the night. It was six and then seven o’clock, and there was plenty of drama in between.

Here’s what the game designer’s mom said before the launch day of the Game Test, “These are too hard questions. No one will know the answers.”

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She also zinged the game designer’s dad on how much he contributed to the game design. This is a conversation overheard between the mom and dad:

“Where are the answers to the questions???”

“It’s too bad you didn’t allow him to create a game he’d like.”

“D told me you created it and he helped only a little by gluing things on the board.”

“Try not to ask D leading questions.”

“I just asked him did you create the game.”

“The main point is, he needs to be allowed to try even if it’s not good.”

“Even if is not not perfect, it’s about teaching D to take responsibility.”

“He’s the one earning the badge.”

“You’re not helping him to be a future responsible adult by doing the thing for him.”

“You did the same with my school paper, so I think you have a hard time guiding D without taking over.”

”When you’re in a time crunch, it’s not easy to help a nine year-old design a playable game.”

“With parental guidance it could’ve been done.”

“First, sit down with pen and paper, asking him what ideas he has for a game.”

“Second, decide on the idea or theme. It could’ve been done. Trust your son with your guidance.”

”Guidance is coming alongside him to help. Like you trained the volunteers on hotline.”

“I’m not criticizing. I’m more wanting to see D grow. Does that make sense?”

“I’m sorry if i didn’t come off in the right way.”

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Chill at the Queen Mary

Written By: Scot Butwell - Dec• 29•17

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When L told D he could only go to “Chill” if he finished cleaning his room, he got very upset, and this was his endorsement of the Queen Mary’s annual Christmas extravaganza.

“Chill” is open daily from 4:30 until 11:00 until Jan. 7, and in the next two weeks, it is a wonderful way to extend Christmas with the family, if everyone is in the mood.

As we waited  in line to see a 4-D version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, L said, “We could have stayed at home to watch Rudolph. D has seen it five times this Christmas.”

But Rudolph in 4-D turned out to be her favorite part of “Chill,” and it helped us overcome a mild case of Grinchiness—so don’t miss it in favor of glitzier options like the 300-foot zip line or ice bumper cars.

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“Do you know what 4-D is?” I asked a man standing behind us in line to see Rudolph.

“4-D is one more than 3-D,” he said, and we both laughed.

“4-D is one level more advanced than 3-D,” his wife added. “I think that means it has more special effects.”

I must have still looked confused, so the man added, “I think there may be snow that comes out of the ceilings.”

Here’s what I remember: the seats shaking every time the Abominable Snow Monster stomped in pursuit of Rudolph, Hermey, and the Yukon Cornelius and, yes, snow blowing out from top corner of the front wall.

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“I liked it was edited to 15 to 20 minutes,” L commented the next day. “The special effects made the story come alive.”

D stood up to grab snow flakes and animated snowballs–which thanks to the 3-D glasses–came right into his excited hand, and he liked the black smoke from a exploding TNT box, and we were now in the right frame of mind to enjoy “Chill.”

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We went next to the ice-skating rink, and this was the highlight of our trip for me. D and I skated together several times around an ice track filled with skaters of all ages and ability levels.

Originally, D wanted a plastic penguin to help him stay upright, but he exceeded the 48-inch height limit to get a support device while skating.

So we tandem skated by holding hands, and whenever D fell down, he would say to me, “I said, left, right, left, right, and you went right, left, right, left…and you made me fall!”

We had a hilarious time skating. I think we both helped each other stay upight, and each time around the track, we became less wobbly, and it was an exercise in working together.

I am smiling as I write about our experience, recalling how D told a female employee, “It’s his fault. I said left, right, but he went right, left…and so it was his fault that I fell down.”

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The best experiences always teach you something about yourself, and about those whom you love, and I learned D is funny, courageous, adventuresome, cooperative, and skilled at ice skating.

He showed he could fall six times and get back up six times, and that is one of the lessons I hope he will remember from our tandem skating at “Chill.”

We passed by ice bicycling on the way to ice skating–but for some reason D didn’t want to give it a try. There was a wide array of three-wheeled bikes, and it looked like a fun.

To quote Mary Poppins, “We’re on the brink of an adventure. Don’t spoil it by asking questions.” This quote sums up our experience after we’d been at “Chill” for about an hour and a half

The questions came, and instead of being on the brink of a new adventure, we spoiled it with questions. Are  you getting hungry? Are you ready to leave? And there were a few more.

D asked the only good question to a female employee, “Do you know where Santa is?” There was a sign on the door to Santa’s headquarters. It said, “Santa is out feeding his reindeer right now.”

I prolonged our visit by convincing L to take a walk on the Queen Mary, but she didn’t have quite the same exploring spirit as D and I, and so our next adventure never materialized.

However, we learned a valuable family lesson: if we have difficulty traveling 15 miles to Long Beach—to spend a couple hours—then it will be hard taking a week-long California trip this summer.

This was the lesson taught us by “Chill” that we needed to learn while having fun ice-skating, ice-tubing, watching Rudolph in 4-D, and strolling around together as a family.

The latter is one of my favorite parts of “Chill:” Just walking around the Christmas decorations, with the Queen Mary as a back drop while strolling or careening down a 135-foot ice tubing slide.

Full Disclosure: thanks to the good folks at the Queen Mary for setting us up with complimentary tickets. This in no way influenced my opinions while writing this post of our visit there. We have been regular visitors to “Chill” for the past five years as part of our family tradition.

For more info on Chill, go to: www.queenmary.com

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The Really Awesome Improv Show

Written By: Scot Butwell - Nov• 23•17

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“Where are you?” L’s text says.

As I glance down at my phone screen, a girl in her early twenties clucked like a chicken as she officiated a wedding ceremony for Michael Jackson as part of a hilarious improv comedy scene.

I type the words “kids’ comedy show,” leaving out the location in Hollywood, and tap the “send” button as the bride and groom slide backwards on their toes moon-walk style across the stage.

“Where?” her text back says.

I see a smile spreadacross his face and turn into laughter, and in that instant, I am reminded of what I’ve learned about D: he has a creative mind.

“It’s in Hollywood,” I text back.

Our trip began at Chic-fil-A where I had an urge to break out of our normal zip codes. D and I were overdue for a new destination from our usual ones.

“Want to go to Hollywood?” I asked D, after he ate his typucal Saturday breakfast of two eggs, plus two boxes of hash browns. I had googled “kids’ comedy show” and “Hollywood.”

There was a show in an hour at noon.

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“Yes,” he said.

“We’re going to HOLLYWOOD,” I cheerily boomed as we turned on the freeway for the 30 to 45-minute ride. “Hollywood, here we come! Woo-hoo, we are going to…HOLLYWOOD!”

Yes, my enthusiasm was overblown. However, it represented pent up frustration from mostly adhering to L’s five-mile radius for our father-son adventures for the past five years.

A week ago, D asked me to go to a baby store to look at books, plush toys and other baby stuff. He walked up to a employee and asked her if she could help him find an old favorite book.

I listened as my nine-year-old son asked about a book for toddlers. On the one hand, he took initiative to ask for help. On the other hand, he wanted to see a book for three year olds.

It felt weird. Maybe, he missed the characters from his early childhood. However, as the employee searched for the book, I pretended it was a birthday present for a toddler–if she asked.

THE REALLY AWESOME IMPROV SHOW #5 photo by Joe Funk

So this is what prompted our trip to “The Really Awesome Improv Show,” voted the best kids’ comedy show by LA Magazine, at Second City theatre on the famed Hollywood Boulevard.

We parked and had ten minutes till showtime. D and I started running, and I pointed out a few names of stars on the sidwalk, and we made it to the theatre with one minute to spare.

The black box theatre had seats for 50 to 75 people. We sat in the front row and our feet touched the stage. It felt like the actors were in our living room and they performed just for us.

The actors played improv games, taking suggestions from the audience to create zany characters and scenes, and encouraged kids to participate. Wackiness ruled the one hour show.

REALLY AWESOME IMPROV SHOW photo by Second CityI wanted to nudge D to be part of a game on stage, but I sensed he was not yet ready. To be honest, it was an accomplishment just to make it here; and this would be an intro to improv.

I wish I could describe more of the scenes, but all I can remember is the actors demonstrated the symmetry and principles of improv beautifully. Listening and responding.

Saying Yes.

The biggest surprise of all, L was okay with us going outside her five-mile radius without me having discussed it and getting her approval–or, at least, she didn’t seem to be upset about it.

She approved an hour long trip to Malibu Wine Safari last December–to which she declined an invitation–and granted permission for us to go the Griffith Observatory without her.

THE REALLY AWESOME IMPROV SHOW photo by Second City

But she vetoed several of my ideas this year for longer trips, so her five-mile radius seems to be an arbitrary thing, depending on her mood or perspective on my parenting skills at the moment.

She suggested I take parenting classes during a recent heated argument.

And whenever she walks in on one of D and my “improv” scenes, which are of course ridiculous, she says, “do you guys ever have normal conversations?”

She is, apparently, not an improv fan; and I will be the first to admit our scenes are non-sensical and lack any logical progression, but they foster a social reciprocity like nothing else.

And that’s what’s important–especially for a kid on the spectrum.

This is why I love our “creative” conversations. It’s the way D and I bond with each other, just as L connects with him in their deep conversations–though I am capable of having serious talks with D, too.

I wrote a few years back, I thought an improv class would improve D’s social skills, and I think it is time to test my theory and take D’s improv acting from the living room to the stage.

He came in the bedroom as I edited this with a towel around his body, no shirt, pretending to be a caveman, and I volleyed lines back and forth with Jack the Caveman for ten minutes.

So, yeah, I think Jack the Caveman is ready for an improv acting class.

The Really Awesome Improv Show is every Saturday at 12 pm for only $5.

This show has been running for eight years straight and is great for the whole family. No scene suggestions are accepted that are inappropriate for kids (my diarrhea idea was rejected), and because there is a rotating cast, you’ll see a different cast and games if you return a second or third time.

Second City’s is located at: 6560 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028.

Phone: (323) 464-8542.

Visit their website for a wide range of acting classes: www.secondcity.com.

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Zombie Dad

Written By: Scot Butwell - Nov• 22•17

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I didn’t want to go trick-or-treating without a costume since Halloween has become an annual night of father-son bonding with D, and here it was four o’clock and I had no costume.

D was a scientist. He had a white lab coat, goggles, and boots, so I thought if there was any last-minute way to complement his costume. And then I hit on it…I could be a Zombie Dad.

L allowed me to use her make-up, dabbing black rings around my eyes, and I took over from there, adding splotches of red blood to my face, thanks to a bottle of her nail polish.

I shredded a dress shirt and jeans, ransacked bathroom cabinets for accessories like a blood-splattered band-aid for my forehead, and wrote Zombie Dad on my teacher badge.

An image from Plants vs. Zombies guided the last part of my costume: a clip-on tie from D’s closet, a tan suit jacket from mine, and I applied nail polish generously to my costume.

“You are overdoing it,” L said of my increasingly gory appearance.

But D thought I looked good. So did D’s friend C, and when we rang the doorbell of my former high school Journalism-English teacher, she complimented me on my creativity.

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“You are so creative! You are a fun dad!” she texted the next day. D and I even made it on her Facebook page with the title, “1987 South High grad trick-or-treating at my door.”

I felt like Cinderella under the ballroom lights, and knowing the clock was ticking on my zombie persona, I cherished this chance to shed my everyday identity for a few hours.

“My dad is my creation,” D the Scientist told a few neighbors.

So I must have serendipitously succeeded in complementing his Scientist costume, and in my effort to bond with D, I had finished just in the nick of time to go trick-or -treating.

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We joined up with C and his dad, plus two middle-school girls and their mom. D’s pillow case filled up, and we roamed the streets until we all began to wear out, and it was another sweet Halloween in the memory bank.

What I learned is that it only takes a modicum of creativity to enter my son’s imaginary world; a pair of scissors, an old shirt and jeans, make-up and a bottle of red nail polish.

It was an old lesson, as I remember, a few years back, making a homemade Tin Man costume with an oil funnel, silver make-up, a plastic ax, a poster board with a Sharpee drawn red heart.

As soon as I walked into the living room on that Halloween, D began checking out my make-up, hat, and ax and jumping off the living room sofa and chopping down imaginary trees.

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He had a similar reaction last year when I stuffed pillows under my shirt and painted my face green to be the Incredible Hulk. He ran up and body slammed into me like in a mosh pit.

This is why I love Halloween. With a   tiny spark of imagination, D and I can become the Scarecrow and Tin Man, Captain America and Incredible Hulk, or a Scientist and his creation.

I am already looking forward to next Halloween, and those few precious hours to wander the streets with D, and to shed my Dad identity and assume the persona of my costume.

I saved my shirt and jeans–just in case my creativity wanes, and I need a last-minute costume; plus, I enjoyed my alter ego of being a Zombie Dad and could see bringing him back to life.

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The Great Pumpkin Hunt

Written By: Scot Butwell - Nov• 20•17

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I’ve driven by the South Coast Botanical Garden in Palos Verdes many times without even giving a second thought to what I might be missing.

Now, I will not.

I will think about the 87 acres of blooming trees, shrubs, flowers, meadows, winding trails, benches in shady garden niches, friendly volunteers and crisp autumn air.

I will think of these things and fondly remember our visit to the Garden, and it will be a lot harder to pass by the Garden, knowing how much beauty lies within this 87 acre haven of nature.

D is a lover of treasure hunts, so we went to experience “The Great Pumpkin Hunt” in the Garden which involves locating clues in birdhouses to find a clandestine pumpkin patch.

But since I’m not much of a map navigator, and more prone to wander and enjoy nature, we got lost in the Garden while on the Great Pumpkin Hunt; and that was just fine with me.

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The Garden map was sound, I just didn’t feel like following it; and no one we asked knew the locations of the birdhouses, so getting lost in nature seemed preferable to finding clues.

The secret patch turned out to be behind one of the Garden’s Kid’s Adventure Club Stations–a once-a-month activity–where kids and parents alike could dig for marine fossils.

D and I were given plastic spoons for shovels, a plot of dirt bracketed by string, and a volunteer explained to D how the garden had been a marine environment thousands of years ago.

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“Do you know what a person who digs for fossils is called?” she asked D.

“A paleotologist.”

“What do you expected to find since it used to be a marine environment?”

“Shark teeth.”

“Wow! You are really a smart boy!”

We got so into digging for fossils that we didn’t pay any heed to a pumpkin patch in front of us. The pumpkins looked like they had been ravaged by some hungry animals in the Garden.

One pumpkin looked like a basketball without air, and we were told the Garden held a contest a year ago, to guess the weight of a giant pumpkin, but it had mysteriously disappeared.

Bite by bite, that is. As the squirrels, rabbits, mice and racoons ate the prized pumpkin and, apparently, they did same this year, judging by the appearance of the pumpkin patch.

Getting lost in the nature, or sitting on one of the Garden’s many benches, and just feeling the warmth of the sun, I concluded, is what I’ve missed driving by the South Coast Botanical Garden.

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“Climb the mountains, get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their freshness into you…while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”

John Muir’s words came to me while D and I sat on a bench after walking through the labyrinth of trails, and as I pondered Muir’s thoughts, I could sense nature’s peace flowing into me.

True, D asked to look at my phone as he leaned back into my chest. But I enjoyed the lush greenery and warmth of the sun on my face as I wondered about the people who walked by us.

I reminisced about the 17-mile drive in Carmel when a tram passed by us. Walking on the Garden’s scenic trails and roads brought back to mind L and my trip there on our honeymoon.

My mind wandered to the missed opportunity 18 years ago to ride a bike in a slight drizzle; in retrospect, it was the perfect condition–though I chose wisely to not abandon my new bride.

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This got me thinking if biking is permitted in the Garden–I didn’t see anyone riding a bike–but the program staff is always expanding new ways for visitors to experience the Garden.

In December, the Garden will pipe in Christmas music on selected roads/trails and host bands playing holiday music; in January, guests can listen to a pop music playlist while walking through Garden trails.

A sign outside the front gates also announced yoga will be coming soon to the Garden. In addition, the Garden hosts plays, concerts, and movie nights in its meadows–Mauna played in July.

D and I enjoyed acting out scenes from the Wizard of Oz in a small shaded amphitheatre with a canopy of trees. An acting class would make a great addition to the Garden, I thought.

We ran into a troop of girl scouts, and one girl ran over to D and said, “D, what are you doing here?” And then he was surrounded by a group of girls, who were all saying the same thing.

He hid behind a tree watching them before he was spotted. I gave him some space to interact with the girls, but he seemed overwhelmed, and we walked and ran on with the map in my pocket.

D liked the numerous opportunities to pick up dirt clods along the trails. He’s still a sensory kid at heart, and frankly, that may have been his favorite part.

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We appreciated the quiet solitude; sometimes, a father and son need to escape into nature–you know, to get away from family life stresses–and the Garden was a perfect nature getaway.

You enter through the gates, walk through an enchanted garden with small miniature houses, grazing cows and other ornaments, and you forget all about the various stressors in  life.

You walk along trails or a road, turn right or left down a myriad of trail/road options, and you will feel tempted to chuck the map, and you may decide getting lost in nature is preferable.

That’s what I felt like doing–and so we found only two of the six birdhouses with clues to the pumpkin patch. But time stopped, and that’s the best way I know to enjoy an afternoon with D.

The next time we drive by the Garden, I will assuredly give more than second thought to what I will be missing. And I am sure I will planning a return visit to the Garden in the next few weeks.

Full Disclosure: I received two tickets at my request in exchange for writing this blog post. However, all opinions in this post are mine, and I hope you enjoy the Garden as much as we did

The South Coast Botanical Gardens Hours are: 9 – 5 everyday (open 364 days a year). The address is: 263000 Crenshaw Blvd., Palos Verdes. You can learn more about the Garden by visiting their website:southcoastbotanicalgarden.org.

Tickeprices are: Adults $9, students $6, children (4 – 12) $4, and toddlers are free.

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Dance Party

Written By: Scot Butwell - Oct• 28•17

It had been a long day for all of us.

A homework battle, a struggle for D to get started and to stay focused on his one page of math and grammar, plus a writing graphic organizer and three-sentence introduction paragraph.

Plus, thirty minutes of reading.

We were all tired. Ooops!! L doesn’t like me to use that word–tired–even though it is a description of my mental and physical state on most days after teaching squirrelly 14-year-olds.

D whipped through the graphic organizer with his three reasons and three details for each reason, and he whizzed through writing the three-sentence introduction on his topic.

He likes to write–although it can often veerbetween real and imaginary–and his intro was about being kidnapped by an animatronic bear Nightmare from the Five Nights at Freddy’s.

Maybe, this is his writing style–his voice–though he may struggle with academic writing (thesis, evidence, explanations) in the future because of his preference for imaginary over real.

I like the writing homework. It is an chance to share what I’ve learned about writing with D, and the math (rounding to tens, hundreds, and thousands) is time to spend with D.

“You’re yelling at me like a Mad Man,” I overheard D say to L the other night when she was helping him with one part of his homework assignment.

She screams at me too if I interfere with him doing homework by himself.

My approach is different than hers. I like to make it light and easy, to banter a bit and, yes, to embrace the jagged process. Though I have to remind myself several times to be patient.

I tell ninth-graders every day to stay on task in my job as an English teacher, so my preference would be to not have to do this again at home–thus, the reminder to be patient.

Be patient.

This is the “brand” I want to be remembered by D: a patient dad who isn’t prone to fits of rage if his attention happens to momentarily drift away from a math problem.

Which it will.

Being patient is what works with nine or 14-year-olds, both of whom I’ve come to realize share common traits, like losing focus and tearing off the eraser nubs off the top of pencils.

Impatience will only escalate a situation to a toxic level, and that’s why I sit next to D on the sofa, to let him know I am with him in this task. This is just how I choose to do it.

And being this close to him in proximity not only provides a sense of comraderie, but it also allows me to redirect him if his mind does happen–which it will–go down a rabbit hole.

Sometimes, to break up the monotony of the homework, I even go off the grid with him to spice up the daily grind of grammar, math problems and writing (which has become his favorite).

So after D finished his introduction paragraph, I tell him about Steve Pressfield (War of Art) and Shawn Coyne (The Story Grid), and how Steve is a writer and Shawn is his editor, and Shawn’s job is to improve  his friend Steve’s writing.

“You are the writer, and I am the editor,” I say to D. “You be Steve and I will be Shawn. My job is to look for how to make your writing better.”

And after he finishes, I explain to him how “everyday” words in conversation can be replaced with more precise action or descriptive words, and he receives my input like a real writer.

His assignment was to use “sound” and “motion” words, so he changed said to murmured, goes to speeded, and added caw-caw in on his own, and then we shared his writing with L.

L said she thought his teacher would think his paragraph was too polished, but I explained it was an opportunity to share my knowledge on writing and to teach D about the revision process.

His writing did sound professional–though his handwriting is still a work in progress–but his homework never returned in his backpack, so I guess you will have to take my word on it.

After his homework was completed–this story is really about this moment–D cued up a catchy song with a fast tempo and beat on my phone, and a dance party broke out right there in the living room to a song from Sing.

D kicked his feet left, right, forward, and backwards, he executed a 360-degree spin move a few times, he nearly completed a few handstands, and his arms and legs moved rapidly for the duration of the entire song.

I joined D in the Dance Party as L cheered him on (“Do it again…Woo-hoo”, she said after his spin moves.), mimicing his moves except for the head stands, and by the end of the 4-minute song, we were sucking in air.

This is how we capped a Tuesday evening, and the homework saga, his writing style, our collaborative effort and the dance party, I thought all added up to…the Fourth Grade D.

The dance party infused my body with newfound energy, and a new appreciation of my son, and his wonderful, spontaneous spirit.

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Culver City Steps

Written By: Scot Butwell - Oct• 16•17

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This was one of those ideas–hiking up 279 stairs at the Culver City steps–that sounded like a good idea at the time, but it didn’t feel so great once we were  on, say, step number 133 or 208.

At step number 279, I was more than grateful we’d made it to the top,  Some breaths felt much deeper than others, and I realized I can feel feel the effects of aging on my body more than ever.

I am two digits away from 50, and this workout reminded me of a stress test I recently took where they kept speeding up the treadmill more itches until I felt like I was about to have s heart attack,

The hill was steep enough that I had to stop several times, my lungs heavy and legs burning, and I was too tired to pretend to fiddle with my camera and stared up at the steep incline ahead.

D was usually five or six steps ahead, and probably more if I didn’t tell him to stop when I took a break.  I needed to catch my breath s few times, but D didn’t have this problem. He kept climbing up the steps, only stopping occasionally, never seemed fazed by the two-foot cylinder block stairs.

I looked forward to a father-son moment taking in a vista of Los Angeles, but when we reached the top, D looked back for a split second and followed the trail around a curve.

Ho-hum, he must have thought.

I was thinking something along the lines of  “hey, this isn’t everyday you see a view like this, and I was really hoping (re: needing) to take a much longer break…to get a second wind.”

We passed through a building with a display on the history of Los Angeles on the way back down. However, D looked at the pictures for about 20 seconds before exiting out a door.

The way down was easier. I realized near the bottom I needed to find bathroom. The stairs on the way up moved my breakfast through my intestines at a faster clip than usual.

Or was it going downhill? The gradual steady decline may have made finding a restroom a personal emergency—for all I know. The point is, I needed to make it to the nearest potty pronto.

And there were none going downhill.

That is, except in the building with the display on the history of Los Angels—which I regretted not staying longer, so I could get rid of my unneeded waste.

Plan A…was a nearby Dunkin Donuts which I remembered passing on the way to the steps, but there was a sign on the bathroom door: Out of Order.

Plan B..Smart and Final next door. I needed to make it in a hurry, but the stall was occupied, and there was no time to search for a nearby restroom.

Plan C…required expediency. I saw a nearby trash can. There was no time for Plan D–just immediate action.

D looked at me with a surprised look. He had never seen me poop in a trash can before—nor do I remember having done so—so I felt a need to provide a life lesson of some sort to what he saw.

“Sometimes, you have to do what you have to do in an emergency. This was an emergency and, maybe, you will be in an emergency like this one day.”

Poop in a trash can if you must.

That’s what I was trying to say. Yeah, I am not proud for what I did–and I only accidentally hit publish on this–but I think I would do the same thing if the same situation happens again.

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When the Birds Come

Written By: Scot Butwell - Oct• 16•17

Yep, that’s me launching an angry Bird. It was Big Brother Terrence. He connected with a pig, and the rest of birds came. Bomb. Chuck. Red. Hal. The Blue Birds. The Mighty Eagle.

The Mighty Eagle swooped down and crashed into the pigs’ towers. Hal boomeranged in and activated a button on the side of a monkey’s truck.

The truck started up, rammed into the towers–or at least what was left–and the monkey screamed ,”Ewwww! EEEEEEE! Ewweee! !EEEEEEEE!”

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