FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

Target Dog

Written By: Scot Butwell - May• 24•15

target dog

You might think he’s interested in the dog…he’s not.

It’s the metal part of the collar fascinating him. This is the way he brain words, noticing the small, tiny details.

He doesn’t see tree in the forest, or the panoramic view of the forest skyline. He sees the tiny bugs at the foot of the tree.

He is like a train passenger watching the scenery unfold on a long-distance trip–and he has a voracious appetite for adventure.

We went to the Pet Store, Toy Store, McDonalds, the park, Target, and he was angling to visit the girls…our neighbors we climb over a brick wall to visit.  

If it were a terrorist act, I overhead a waitress say the other day, they would have let the world know.

In other words, they would have bragged about it.

And, while I was in mid-thought writing a blog post, I started thinking about my son and how proud I am of him acclimating to a new school setting.

Yesterday, it was Portfolio Day at his school.  We had a picnic on the grass and pointed out two girls on the playground who were his friends.

Then he ran off to the playground and traversed from one piece of playground equipment to another –with brief interactions with his peers.

He tagged another kid and was chased. He climbed on top of the sphere-shaped monkey bars. He chatted briefly with a boy.

And then he led us his classroom and walked right in, unaffected by all the parents and kids.

His school had become his new second home and, yes, I am proud of my son.

He does his homework every night, and his teacher said he completes all his work and he is a pleasure to have in class.

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Ahhhhhhh, baseball

Written By: Scot Butwell - May• 17•15

baseball is fun

It happened something like this.

D stepped up to bat, swung and hit the ball. He dropped the bat, started off nice and easy, and then kicked up his speed after rounding first base.

Second base came into view and a fielder running towards him with ball in his glove, and that’s when things got a little crazy.

He made a loop towards third base – technically illegal—to avoid being tagged out and then swerved back and flopped down onto second base.

He was laughing and out of breath. I was laughing and smiling at this new dimension to his “Break it Down” Total Sports class: tagging a runner out.

Who knew baseball could be so much fun?

For several weeks, they’d practiced the fundamentals of hitting, throwing, catching, fielding grounders, running the bases–all necessary components of a kid learning to play baseball.

But to a blogger parent with eye for detail, I knew there was a key ingredient missing, and it was evident in comical base running chase between two peers.

More social interaction.

Kids play sports for all sorts of reasons. To hit a home run. Swish a basketball through the net. I played sports as a kid, so I am familiar with all the reasons.

But the purest reason for playing sports is it’s fun and, yes, social. This was evident in my son’s cheesy smile as avoided being tagged.

It felt like one of those long, endless summer days playing baseball as kid. With all the neighborhood kids gathered in an abandoned lot.

I know because I’d asked into the game—my excuse being two kids were absent–as fielder and then a base runner.

Let’s face it: sitting and watching your child play baseball is not as fun as being tagged out by your son. I think I may have advocate for a parent versus child game!

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How I Met Your Mother

Written By: Scot Butwell - Apr• 26•15

Lisa how i met She heard me give an announcement to the singles’ group at our church about a ministry to the homeless.

She was interested in serving God in some way.

My phone number was listed in the church bulletin to call for more information about the homeless ministry.

She called.

We talked about the ministry for a few minutes and then we talked about Jesus for over an hour and how He was changing our lives.

She had recently rededicated her life to Christ, and I was new Christian.

I invited her to meet me at the church to drive together to a Friday night service at a rescue mission for the homeless.

She came five minutes late after I left the church parking lot. But she started coming to breakfast and bible study on Saturday mornings.

We would both stay to talk to one or two of the homeless men together after the bible study had ended and became quick friends.

During the week, we talked a lot on the phone about how we were growing in our relationship with Jesus and became closer friends.

Then one night we went out for coffee after a group from our church went to the Friday night service at the rescue mission.

Your mom began singing crazy on the way to the coffee shop, and that was something she had never done with me before.

At the coffee shop, we were playing checkers, and whenever I would move one of my checkers, her eyes locked into my eyes.

The drive and the checker game—that’s how I began to knew I loved your mother–and then you came along several years later.

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A Walk to Remember

Written By: Scot Butwell - Apr• 18•15

flower 2 If you were walking to the bookstore, and some random thing caught your child’s attention, you might stop and look at flowers, too.

You know, to pass the time.

So we did.

I noticed the beauty of the colors, shapes and compositions that I would not have otherwise given a second thought.

The beauty of a simple flower got me to thinking about the designer of the flower and appreciating the warm sunshine and cool breeze.

Some random object had gotten his attention. I’m not even sure what it was so captivating were the flowers.

Then, I remembered one of my son’s ABA goals is to not be distracted by touching plants and/or random objects while walking to the park.

It is a goal that we practiced on a walk to the park (with his ABA therapist watching us with notepad in hand) on a recent day off from work.

You see my dilemma, don’t you?

As a sensory kid, my son could probably stop and touch over fifty to a hundred objects on our walk to the bookstore and back home.

That’s the fun of walking to the bookstore for him, so I had to decide on the fly how committed I was going to be to this ABA goal. flower The Wife has informed me on several occasions with a less than kind tone that my hard work is paying thousands of dollars for his therapy.

This is her not so subtle way of telling me that I should apply the objective of his ABA lessons to my parenting our son.

So.

I’ll be honest, I’m torn about this ABA goal. I understand its importance in keeping him from being distracted by every object that captures his attention.

However, on the other hand, I question if every distraction is potentially bad when he gets such joy from each random discovery.

And if my mind begins to contemplate God from the design of a simple flower, who knows what his mind may be thinking?

He will be starting first grade in a large public school next week. It will be eight or nine weeks before the end of the school year.

It will be a lot of stimulation for his easily distracted brain. Strange new faces. A playground filled with running children.

So I’m sure this ABA goal has been good for him to an extent, but it feels a little extreme on a weekend walk to the bookstore.

Who knows if his hypersensitive attraction to detail could be the sensory-intellectual curiosity of a future scientist or news reporter?

 

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Ship to Shore

Written By: Scot Butwell - Apr• 18•15

ship to shore

You want to improve your kid’s listening skills while having a lot of fun? Play the game Ship to Shore, preferably with several kids.

Here’s how: mark out two lines about ten feet apart from each other and designate one as the ship and the other as the shore.

When you say the word “ship,” they have to run to the ship line, and when you say shore, they run to the shore line.

It’s that simple.

But don’t forget to add stand on one leg and salute with your right hand when you say, “the Captain’s coming!”

And don’t forget to add drop to your hands and knees and scrub the floor when you say, “Scrub the deck!”

And don’t forget lay on your stomach when you say, “Hit the deck!”

You can Google the words “ship to shore” for more actions you can add to make the game more complex and fun.

The most important part: try to trick your kid to run to the ship when they’re standing on the ship line, or to run to shore when they’re standing on the shore.

That’s where the listening skills come into play and, yes, they will confuse the ship and shore as the commands keep coming, and that’s the fun.

Their bodies will get tired and minds confused as you keep giving new commands (with occasional short intervals) and the giggles will soon begin.

This is how you can improve your child’s auditory processing ability–for success in school–while having a lot of fun as well.

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Huxley and Bug

Written By: Scot Butwell - Apr• 17•15

huxley So, um, yeah, I have some explaining to do. He likes to pretend to be super heroes in front of the bathroom mirror.

Or imitate You tube videos giving instructions on how to put stickers and accessories on Marvel mini-munnies.

So, after listening for awhile, I joined him, grabbing a brush and became Huxley from Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland.

The tan coat was his idea and invitation into his creative world. “If I touch it, it’s mine,” I said, quoting one of Huxley’s most famous lines.

This was modeling beginning acting skills by establishing a character with my voice and body movement.

It was serious fun. Pure creative expression, a glimpse into my son’s mind and a great way to join his world.

Huxley or Boss is the nickname he gave me–and Bug his nickname–after two characters from Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland.   

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Play Ball!

Written By: Scot Butwell - Apr• 12•15

bazeballtoo You want to make a kid excited? Ask him to run the bases and see what happens.

I watched as my son sprinted from third base, leaped in the air a few feet away and practically glided to home plate.

Maybe he had some pent up excitement since he’d been told to stop at each base when a new batter was up.

Yes, baseball is fun.

Ok so. He probably could have handled t-ball or soccer at age five or six. And he might have even rocked it.

Or maybe not.

He had—and still does have—difficulty regulating his body and executing many gross motor activities.

Imagine the difficulty of standing in the infield or outfield for long stretches when you have trouble standing still.

Consider throwing, catching or hitting a baseball when you find most gross motor activities to be a challenge.

So, wisely (we thought), the Wife and I chose to hold back on the whole sports thing. bazeballThen we found “Break it Down” Total Sports, a class designed by ABA therapists to make sports accessible to kids with special needs.

“Break it Down” Total Sports combines learning a sport with toy breaks every twenty minutes for behavioral reinforcement.

The core principle is to break every skill down into smaller parts to accomplish the bigger task of learning how to play a sport.

It worked wonders with our son and basketball, so we decided to sign him up for eight weeks of baseball. Except there was one problem.

I forgot to buy him a new glove. So, thirty minutes before his class, we rushed to Target and got an over-sized glove (and a correct sized one later from Wal-Mart).

And you know what? You could say he was a model for the younger kids–in regulating his body–and you would be right on.

Yes, he has lot of work to do on his baseball fundamentals, but he shined in the most important areas for him.

Enthusiasm running the bases. Check. Attention to his teacher. Check. Self-initiative. Check.

From saying hi a friend to being the first to race after every gizmo his teachers shot in the air, the timid kid in his first few basketball classes was gone.

Ok so. His swing was listless, lacking any natural motion, confidence, grace or mechanics. That needs some work.

It’s a gross motor issue.

But I’m confident that somehow the reckless abandon he showed running the bases will eventually transfer over to his swing.

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Ahhhhh Nature

Written By: Scot Butwell - Apr• 12•15

marsh

We may or may not have come across a rattlesnake on the trail at our local marsh. D spotted it first after he went off trail and cut across the marsh.

I was following behind him and the snake was crossing the trail. D was ten feet away with his fingers in his ears.

The snake looked harmless, so I took a picture and, no, I wasn’t being a derelict dad and abandoning my son in the face of danger.

The Wife heard about the snake later from D. She compared my photo with Google images of rattlesnakes from the internet.

Yes, it was a rattlesnake.

She thinks. Maybe.

When it slithered into the bushes, I thought our snake adventure was over. Maybe, I might post a picture of the snake with my son in the foreground.

However, the Wife suggested I call the marsh to let them know about the, um, rattlesnake, and when I texted them my photo, it turns out it was a California Kingsnake.

The California Kingsnake has a flat, oval-shaped head. A rattlesnake has a triangle-shaped head and diamond pattern covering its back.

Tracey at the marsh told my wife the snake was a gopher snake which, he said, has a step-stone like pattern on its back, small head and tail that tapers to a point.

Tracey added that most snakes with triangular-shaped heads are poisonous and, of course, the rapid movement and rattling sound identifies a true rattler.

This is good to know to id any future rattlesnakes while out in nature with my son.

Also, Tracy said in forty-five years of observations by biologists and naturalists, there has never been a rattlesnake at the marsh.

snake

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Buddy Club

Written By: Scot Butwell - Apr• 11•15

bowl ing The older kids from the Buddy Club sang the Cha-cha-cha song as they ran back to their bowling lane from eating pizza.

It was running typical of seven to ten-year-old kids, but the Buddy Club has been working on regulating their bodies.

“You can cha-cha-cha without running,” their instructor said nicely.

The Buddy Club has been learning about the *Zones of Regulation to increase awareness of their emotions and body states.

Being overstimulated is the Red Zone and, yes, the Cha-cha-cha group had momentarily entered into the Red Zone.

“Let’s go, J___! Let’s go, J____! Let’s go J! Let’s go!” I heard the cha-cha-cha group chant.

They repeated the same cheer for each buddy, loud, effusive and full of joy. Of course, the Cha-cha-cha group was four girls and two boys.

My son’s group consisted of four seven-year-old boys, and they were happy stretching rubber animals between their turns.

I looked up as D ran with his ball, stopped and released it right at the line. It rolled straight down the middle of the lane.

It knocked down five…six…seven…eight…nine pins. One final pin was still wobbling left and right…could this be his first strike?

It stayed upright but, honestly, I was just proud of his run and release and, yeah, I would have entered the Red Zone, if the last pin fell down.

*The Zones of Regulation is part Michelle Weiner Garcia’s social thinking curriculum.

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Seeing is Believing

Written By: Scot Butwell - Apr• 03•15

test photo

This is how God prepares me to teach a Bible study to the homeless with a difficult woman.

“Don’t get excited…I will only be here for a couple minutes.”

She sat at a table on the patio at McDonalds and took a few bites of her sandwich. It was 8 a.m. on a Saturday.

She’d been speaking to me while I was writing and listening to music with my headphones on. She told me about a man who recycled cans behind a hospital.

She babbled on as I’d seen her do with other customers at McDonalds; none bothering to listen to her stories.

“What a world!” she said as she sat down for breakfast.

She resumed talking to me, and after a gentle nudge from Jesus, I was a more receptive listener.

She motioned to a blue pick-up truck and told me about a woman who’d found “a decent man.”

“He’s husband number three,” she said. “The first was found dead behind the wheel. The same exact thing happened to husband number two.”

“Now, she has husband number three. Three husbands in sixteen years. I wonder if she puts them in a hole or if the county comes and picks them up.”

She let the thought hang in the air for me to ponder. I gave it a second’s thought and she continued on.

“I’ll give the third a husband a year and a half and he’ll end up dead.Smart woman. I wonder how she gets them.”

Then she asked me, “remember the story of the ladies up on the hill?” I made a quick reference in my brain bank.

Nothing.

“The ones taking in homeless men and killing them for their insurance,” she added.

“Oh yeah,” I said, my first two words.

She got up and left, and I thought maybe she could see things others couldn’t see, things others were too busy to notice.

The next morning, she told me about two male regulars at McDonalds who I’d overheard talking about her.

“When they go to the bathroom, none of them wash their hands,” she said. “You know how I know?”

“How?”

“I’m sitting in the toilet stall in the men’s bathroom, and they all wear black shoes. The water never goes on.”

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