FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

Movie Time

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jul• 15•16

d and me 2

Here’s what we’ve been watching:

  1. Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
  2. Inside Out
  3. Secret Life of Pets
  4. Lilo and Stitch 2
  5. Finding Nemo
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Letting Go

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jul• 14•16

car wash

I sit in a red lawn chair,

across the street from D

and his friend C playing.

I rub sun screen all

over my arms as they

take turns spraying each

other with the water hose.

Doing the same thing

as the past couple days,

when I’d joined them.


Come play with us,

C said.


I come up with some

phony excuse.


I watch them

for a while

on the sideline,

by design.

I am letting go,

I tell myself,

giving D

the chance,

to play

to interact,

without me.


I realize…


I have to let

my son grow up,

navigate situations

on his own, talk

with his friends,

respond to their


solve problems,

like asserting

it is his turn on

the water hose.


He isn’t chatty…

but I hear talking.

Two-way dialogue.

He is doing fine.

There are no fights

or arguments – they

act like brothers.

At times…

Pushing and shoving.

But they’re kids

having fun getting wet.


So I join them.


I run on the sidewalk.

I get sprayed with water.

I point the hose to heaven

and I make raindrops fall

from the sky. I become part

of my son’s world, taking

turns shooting each other

with water. I am a runner

on first base leading off

before stealing second base,

safe if no water hits me.


I let no one pass by me

when it is my turn on the

hose. I torture prisoners

waterboarding their back

up close

or the back of their head.

The tip of my thumb on

the hose. I teach my son

to do the same with his



I am having fun, doing

things D likes to do.


I am thankful for water,

its cold wet caress on my

skin. I am amazed how

the simple act of water

being shot into the air,

these micro-size packets

of joy, makes my son

smile, dance, laugh,

be happy, connected

with others.

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Chicken Fight

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jul• 06•16

chicken fight

I think I accidentally started it all.

D and C were swinging from the monkey bars, a few hours before Fourth of July fireworks, when D wrapped his legs around C’s waist, trying to pull him down.

“Chicken fight,” I said, giving a name to it.

We’d been searching for something to do, and I was thankful we’d found it, when D accidentally pulled C’s shorts half way down.

Hello, Captain America.

So they took turns trying to pull each other down and Skyler (C’s mom’s friend’s tween daughter) video recorded them and we watched the chicken fights.

And laughed.

C made loud wailing noises in the first few videos before realizing he didn’t need to be a passive victim and then the chicken fights became more competitive.

It was two boys having fun, and it was very good entertainment, and it was exactly what I imagine it would be like if D were to have a brother.

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Improv in a Tree

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jul• 06•16

beach stairs

This is how D and I like to spend our Saturdays, and if climbing stair railings ever becomes an Olympic sport, D will definitely become a gold medal winner.

“That’s dangerous,” the Wife said, flipping through pictures on my phone and finding this one.

She doesn’t realize this is D’s way of navigating every environment: Find the closest obstacle–railing, fence, tree, trash can, sculpture–and scale it.

At the top of the stairs is a small park, and D met a girl with a wonderful imagination. The girl was six years old, and just like D, pretending her native language.

After we climbed up a tree, the girl asked if we wanted to play Girls of the Jungle, a game she plays with her friends. Then she realized we were not girls.

“Why don’t we be a brother and sister who are lost in the jungle?” she asked D.  And then to me: “You can become our dad. Do you want to be our dad?”


She told us each come up with a new name, and after a tiger growled at us at the bottom of the tree, she told us to give ourselves special powers.

Thus, the tiger was killed, I believe, by fire breath, and we added layer after layer, D and I following her lead and cues.

It was awesome. Improv in a tree. Giving and receiving. And then the girl asked D to sit next to her on a branch, as they’d become buddies in just twenty minutes.

Times like this don’t happen enough.

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Thoughts on Summer Reading

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jul• 05•16


D signed up for the summer reading program at the local library. It will be his first time reading and monitoring the number of minutes he reads to earn prizes.

This feels so contrary to the joy of reading itself—reading to earn a prize. Isn’t the real joy of reading being engrossed in a story and the world of its characters?

Reading to earn a prize may appeal to some kids’ sensibility. But I know D won’t read just to earn a prize, unless we’re talking a candy bar or ice-cream.

I think the prize is…a book. Ha, ha.

D likes to read, but knows he can check out a book at the library or, as we frequently like to do, go to our favorite hangout–Barnes and Nobles–to read books.

(He likes making ice-coffee with a mix of mocha, vanilla, and cinnamon, and to try to persuade me to buy him a Mini Munny, but that’s getting off my point.)

Anyways, I don’t think you can say to any kid, “Read for 20 minutes and I am going to ask you what you read.” This is what the Wife said to D the other day.

Maybe, this will work on kids with certain personalities, but not with D. He is too independent. Also, I’ve always felt reading is so much about interest and mood.

You have to want to read—not be told to read.

Nevertheless, per the Wife’s request, I tried the “read for 20 minutes” with D. He spent the next five minutes telling me “don’t touch my books” and trying to scratch my arm.

Then, he grabbed his school yearbook, looking at kids’ pictures and reminiscing on events from the just-completed school year, and sharing them with me.

They were like “snap chap” moments:

I met Lily when I got into this school…

I didn’t like it when everyone said yesssssssss when Mrs. S said T wasn’t going to be in our class anymore.

You want to know what Tyler did? He covered his ears when Ms. Nicole was talking to him.

So I didn’t make him read a book. I figured he would pick up a book and start reading when he felt like it later in the day.

Sure enough, a half hour later, he asked to go to Barnes and Nobles, and on two or three different times, he spent at least 15 to 20 minutes reading books.

Without me telling him to read.

I didn’t feel like calculating minutes or writing book titles for his summer reading sheet. The Wife got upset when I told her this story.

“You could have just taken a picture of the book cover,” she said. “It would have been so easy.”

Except I was enjoying reading a book myself.

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Inside Out

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jul• 05•16

bddy club

D will be performing as a character from Inside Out, one of his favorite movies, with the members of the Buddy Club…oops…we forgot his costume for the fundraiser bake sale.

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Car Wash

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jul• 02•16

What I had in mind was, first,

the bird poop being washed off

the front hood (the car was due

for a wash), and then, I got an

ambitious idea, taping a cardboard

sign with the words”car wash”

to a street parking sign, and me,

D and his friend C hosing down

cars. They were excited, too.

I swear, Tom Sawyer didn’t enter

my mind. You know, the time he

tricked his friends to paint a fence,

one he was supposed to paint as

punishment. Really, it didn’t.

car wash 2

What I had in mind was D learning,

developing entrepreneurial skills,

spraying and scrubbing down cars,

removing grime with grit and a sponge,

drying off cars with microfiber towels,

staying focused on the task at hand,

soliciting business from neighbors,

learning professional (soft) skills.

Ok so. I didn’t see cars lining up,

but I could see us doing a few cars,

and then moving on to something else.


But what happened is another story.


It started well. D got started spraying

down the car (while C went inside his

apartment) and, I thought, our first car

would soon be done and the next car

on the way. C came out and got busy

scrubbing dirt with a sponge, and then,

it all started to fall apart. D poured more

soap in the bucket (“that’s wasting soap,”

I yelled) and he sprayed C with the hose,

and the microfiber towels got wet, and I

started to lose my patience, and the gardener

asked if we could stop for five minutes

so he could mow the yard, and that

was the end of our car wash.


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On Dad’s Watch

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jul• 02•16

cookies pic

Here’s what happens when the Wife leaves the apartment:

D pours in the flour, the brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, spoons in two sticks of butter and cracks his first egg on a measuring cup.

And then after we stir the ingredients his fingers go straight for the cookie dough. Again and again. Despite me saying that’s enough.

“You’re going to get sick and not be able to eat the cookies,” I tell him.

But it fell on deaf ears, and I was okay with it. We’d found an activity to be a common focus, and the cookie dough had definitely become his main focus.


So I sped up the mixing and made sure he shared in the responsibility. This way, there would actually be some dough left to put on the cookie sheet.

And the first batch made it into the oven.

It was his idea to bake cookies. I think he remembered the last time we made cookies, a year ago, that I was lax on him eating the cookie dough.

In fact, I stuck my hands in the bowl–to help mix the dough–because the cookie dough was dry. And then his hands followed mine into the bowl.

So I was the one to introduce him to cookie dough. Needless to say, there were no salmonella warnings and, two days later, the cookies were all eaten.

And we’re doing just fine.


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The Plan

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jul• 01•16


A bike whizzed by D and me on the strand at the beach. D was standing in the middle of the bike lane. “Watch out!” the female bike rider yelled at D.

“You watch out!” D yelled back after she was a few feet away. And then he said to himself, “I forgot my plan to ignore.”

“What did you forget?” I said, before he took off running for the shoreline.

“I forgot my plan to ignore the librarian…when she told me to stop running.”

I like the free association of his mind connecting the lady on the bike with the librarian, both of whom represent his dislike of adults telling him what to do.

I was preparing to tell him it’s the librarian’s job to enforce the rules, and lady on the bike only wanted to make sure he didn’t get hurt.

But then he said, “God laughs at my rules.”

The lady on the bike, the librarian and…God…laughing at his rules. I tried to see the pattern in his thinking between the bicyclist, librarian and God.

And I came up with this: I think D is forming his world-view, which is to say, that he’s deciding between obeying adults and making himself be the rule-maker.

It is beautiful to watch.

This is why I love Saturday mornings. It is not just a chance to spend time with my son, it is time to see what he is thinking and how he is growing.

I chimed in my two cents. Then we ran away from waves at the shoreline and built volcanoes in the sand and looked for Uncle Ian’s duck prints.

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Fantastic Patrick

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jun• 30•16

Fantastic p

This mom had her feet kicked up

on the chair at the donut shop

as she listened to her daughter:

“My donut laid two eggs,

my donut likes laying eggs,

I don’t know why my donut

likes laying eggs, it never told

me why it likes laying eggs.”


I want the girl to keep talking,

but her mom tells her to hurry up

and eat her donut. A church lady

says, “The elderly go crazy over

the maple bars. Woe be it to us

if we don’t have the maple bars.”

And I like the image of elderly

men and women going crazy

over a maple frosted donut.


Later, in the day, the Wife

wants us to see Fantastic Patrick

at the library except it turns out

to be the next day. So we end up

eating ice cream and watching

a movie (and she asks me if

she’s going crazy) and I like

the circuitous nature of how

the day started one way and

ended up going another way.


A day later…


We see Fantastic Patrick

juggling balls and bowling pins,

balancing a baseball cap on

his nose, chasing a mom

on a unicycle with a sword,

telling a woman in the front row

not to post his picture on Facebook

because his mom still thinks

he is a lawyer. What I remember

the most is when one of his balls

nearly knocked down a ceiling

light pane — that was funny

and unplanned.


Oh, and I felt my sadness

slip away with each new trick

or joke: Smiling and clapping,

thinking how cool it was

he was doing what he loved

and making others laugh.


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