FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure


Written By: Scot Butwell - Aug• 15•12

Sometimes, the best father-son adventures can be a trip down the street. D’s favorite places are the Pet Store and Toy Store, the Music Store, Barnes & Nobles, Target, the Mall, the Bee and Lady Bug Park and Wilderness Park, a nature preserve near our home.

He frequently asks to visit these places, and I suspect their appeal is the familiarity. Whether it’s animals, toys, drums, books or plush movie characters, D likes seeing his favorite things and knowing everything is in the same place as in our last visit.

The Mall, where he’s asked to go this afternoon, really means The Disney Store, and there’s no mystery why this is his favorite store at the Mall (although he likes riding up and down the escalator, too).

Where else can he see stuffed versions of Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Captain Hook, Donald Duck, Goofy, Woody and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story, Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzy Bear, Gonzo and Beaker from The Muppets, and Mater from Cars?

D rushes over to greet the plush versions of his favorite animated characters he watches on tv at home; it’s like he is meeting the funniest, most amazing people in the world, even in their non-animated forms.


“Miss Piggy!”


“Fozzy Bear!”

latest 004He grabs all four Muppets, lies on the floor and shows his unbound affection with a tight squeeze. His mom would be mortified at seeing this scene unfold, but I see no harm in this hug, so deep is his devotion to the Muppets.

“The Muppets” was the first movie D saw at a theatre. He has taken to calling himself Walter and me Gary, the two main characters. He loves their wacky personalities and has memorized nearly every song from the movie soundtrack I bought him.

His devotion to the Muppets is like the passion of a sports fan. He knows the name of every single Muppet, from the least to the greatest, just as a sports fan knows the name of every player on their favorite team and their stats.

Telling him to stop this hug would be like asking a football fan to quit celebrating after their team scored a game-winning touchdown on a Hail Mary pass against their arch rival right as the game clock expired.

No one would dare ask 50,000 screaming fans in a football stadium to stop cheering. That would be utter nonsense. So neither do I tell D to cease this hug with the Muppets.

Yeah, okay. I admit I should probably say, “D, the floor is dirty and the store doesn’t want the Muppets to get dirty,” to introduce him to proper store etiquette, as I know the Wife would do.

That is what I should say, but I don’t say anything. Maybe, I will when he gets a little older.

latest 005Maybe, I should be self-conscious at seeing D hug four Muppets on the floor. The behavior does stand out, but this is a rare day when there are few customers, and frankly, why should I care?

So I let the hug continue and my parent instinct thinks: A child should be free to be themselves and not have their every move monitored and critiqued for appropriateness.

This is my parenting philosophy: Let a Kid be a Kid. I have not articulated it to the Wife, but it’s common sense to me: a child is not an adult and they should be allowed to be a kid in all their wonderful wacky weirdness.

They should be able to act on their whims (within reason), jumping into big and soft, black and white pillows, for example, as D does on the way back to our car in the mall parking lot.


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