FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

First Audition

Written By: Scot Butwell - Feb• 18•17

audition

I don’t know if he’ll get a part or not. But when I learned the children’s choir was having auditions for acting parts in the upcoming the Children’s Easter Pageant, I knew I had to encourage D to audition.

He has been part of five performances, though only once in an acting role as Heracles in a 20-minute version of Odysseus at a summer drama camp, and I told him that as he got older, he had to “challenge himself.”

I explained to him that an acting part was a great opportunity to do this. D was hesitant at first, but as I mentioned he was becoming more mature, he agreed to audition with only a little wrangling on my part.

I emphasized that he was “maturing” based on his mom’s decision to let him watch the Little Rascals movie. He’s been asking to watch it for over two years and she said he could watch when he was more mature.

So when the choir director asked the kids what part they wanted to try out for, D raised his hand and walked up on stage with three other kids to do a read through of part of the script.

audition 2

Ok, so.

I saw glimpses of potential in his audition, but also several areas he needs to improve to land a part. Aside from motivating him to audition, one thing I forgot is to actually prepare him for what to do in the audition.

First, though, the good: One of his strengths is inflecting the tone of his voice to sound like a character (he likes to be Stitch from Lilo and Stitch), and he did this well during the audition. And the not so good: he got distracted and lost his place in the script. That’s when I had a gnawing feeling I should have prepared him better.

He also could have projected his voice a few notches louder, and while I’d like to it was nerves, this too was probably another case of something I could have coached him to do better.

I am an English teacher, but have taught drama classes, and so I know the importance of projecting your voice, having had plenty of students have trouble with not being heard on stage.

So I think D’s audition gave me a baseline, for what he can and can’t do on his own, and it gave him an experience he can draw upon for his next audition.

Still, I know for his next audition, I plan to have him practice following along with the script and projecting his voice with me at home, so he will make a better impression.

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This Certifies That

Written By: Scot Butwell - Feb• 18•17

soap carving

The switch blade may have lost some of its appeal from previous generations. But D still enjoyed earning a badge for demonstrating his knowledge and skill in the use of a personal pocketknife.

His Whittling Chip certificate said, “By completing these safety requirements and by promising to abide by the Knives Are Not Toys guidelines and the Pocketknife Pledge, he has the earned the right to carry a pocketknife to designated Cub Scout functions.”

The latter part–earning the right to carry a pocketknife–would never have passed the Wife’s approval if it wasn’t followed by the phrase, “to designated Cub Scout functions.”

D’s den leader meticulously went over the pocket knife pledge and guidelines on how to correctly use a pocketknife. Then D and his fellow bears went to separate tables and practiced making cuts with the help of their dads.

To get his Whittling certificate, D had to complete two soap carvings on his own. He decided to carve out his initials, and it was clear from the start, I was more concerned about how his soap carving would turn out than he was.

To be honest, he got distracted playing with the soap chips, and most of the time, I guided his hand to make the cuts, and at one point, I had a flashback of his mom letting him cut the cake on his birthday.

The cake cutting was a metaphor. His mom had her hand was over his hand, and I remember thinking it symbolized how D was getting older, yet it is still difficult for her to let him do things independently.

Well, the same thing happened with the soap carving. No matter how I thought he could cut the cake himself, I didn’t let him do his soap carving on his own, and it wasn’t so much a fear of D cutting himself, as it was me wanting his carving to look nice.

I wish I had this attitude, “So what if his soap carving gets messed up? He can start over and do another one.” But instead I was more concerned with trying to make his soap carving look good than letting him do it himself.

So in writing this, I recognize I have to offer him some guidance, but also to step back and let him do things on his own. It’s a realization I’ve had countless times, and with the Pine Wood Derby coming up, it will be a test of my commitment to foster his independence.

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Mambo Dance

Written By: Scot Butwell - Feb• 17•17

mambo dance

The mambo dance is an annual tradition of Pack 658…and the kids love it.

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Bird Experts

Written By: Scot Butwell - Feb• 17•17

angry birds

I came home from visiting my mom in the hospital, and after eating a five-minute dinner, D had to serve a time out for breaking a house rule.

It took him fifteen minutes between going to the bathroom and various diversionary tactics before he made it to the time out area.

So I connected with L before sprawling out on the kitchen floor and entering into the world of birds vs. pigs to play angry birds with D.

Big Brother Terrance, Chuck the fastest, Bomb shaped like his name, Red, peace-loving Matilda, Hal the Boomerang Bird, Stella the Pink Bird, the blue birds, Bubbles the Expanding Bird, Mighty Eagle, and probably a few lesser fowl.

Leonard, the big bellied King Pig, Corporal Pig with the steel metal army helmet, Foreman Pig with the mustache, and Dopey and Roz the Minion Pigs.

bird expert

The Angry Birds Movie is D’s current favorite film, and we like to sing the song, “Friends,” by Blake Shelton; that is, until the Wife discovered the soundtrack had a few inappropriate songs and it got confiscated.

I’ve noticed the songs and movies D likes best often have a friendship theme–and the lyrics always make me think about our relationship. And I think the songs make him think the same thing.

Hey, hey you and me
Different as different can be
You like to rock, I like to roll
You take the high, I’ll take the low
Woah, woah-oh, woah-oh

Just some roughed up desperadoes
Hanging tough through thick and thin
Kicking up dust wherever we go

I can see that you and me are gonna be friends
To the end you and me are gonna be friends

So on the kitchen floor, we took turns assembling and knocking down towers, pulling back the slingshot with an angry bird inserted and sending it flying towards the pigs in towers.

Kaboom! The towers collapsed and we celebrated. Honestly, it was the most fun of my day, until I became a bull in a rodeo with D on back, snorting and trying to buck him off my back amid his raucous giggling.

D will turn nine tomorrow, and I hope he doesn’t grow up too fast because I will miss times like these being silly. It may be a passing fad, but I am thankful for the angry birds for giving me a way to connect and have fun with D.

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Star Eco Station

Written By: Scot Butwell - Feb• 15•17

blue bird

This was different than the Pet Store.

Instead of seeing dogs, cats, fish, turtles, crickets, hamsters and guinea pigs, we saw an alligator, two foxes, a 100-pound boa constrictor, and an assortment of reptiles and birds rescued by the U.S. Fish and Game Department from human traffickers.

This was Star Eco Station, an environmental science museum and rescue station for exotic animals that is a haven of last resort for over 200 different types of illegally trafficked animals from around the world.

Hey Boss,” D said, beckoning me to follow him in the middle of our tour. He had wandered one room ahead, and I was torn between staying with the tour or responding to his overture.

It felt like the Bubble Room scene from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when Grandpa Joe and Charlie fall behind the group and drink the “Fizzy Lifting” soda and float up toward a giant steel fan.

Rule abiding citizen that I am, I stayed with the group and listened to our tour guide before seeing what D had found so exciting: a frisky grey and brown fox running around in its cage.

eco 2

I knew what D was thinking: Nick Wilde, the fox character from  Zootopia, one of his favorite movies. There was a black fox with a frightened countenance in another cage. Both had bushy tails and were housed behind chain link fences and a glass casing.

Every animal had a back story, but I was missed the names of the foxes (Zeus and Sunny, D told me later) and how they ended up at the rescue station. However, these are a few of the stories I did hear from other animals:

Someone in Texas shipped ten baby alligators in a Fed Ex box to Los Angeles by plane.

eco 3

The 100-pound boa constrictor lived in 20 pounds of his own feces because the owner was too scared of his pet snake to clean it.

An blue parrot plucked out all of its chest feathers due to stress from working on a Hollywood movie.

A two-foot turtle was found in a trash can at the airport.

***

Star Echo Station exists because smuggling exotic animals into the US via LAX is a multi-billion dollar business on a scale with international drug trafficking and thrives from the high demand for exotic pets and accessories from their body parts.

I did not think too much about the cruelty perpetuated by humans against animals and, in retrospect, our tour guide could have driven home that point by talking more about the individual stories of the animals.

turtle

Maybe she mentioned the various ways animals are smuggled into the US (crammed in suitcases, stuffed in cardboard tubes, taped to human bodies, stashed in Fed Ex boxes), and I was not listening to catch the details.

Later, I researched the topic and discover that many of the exotic animals found by custom officials arrive dead on arrival or are so traumatized or injured that officials have no choice but to put them down.

Those who survive the transport conditions often die from inadequate care or are abandoned on rural roads by their owners. Many others get placed at the gates of zoos–who are unable by law to take donated animals–or have difficulty surviving away from their natural habitats.

These would have been great details to share, and it may have made D angry at the mistreatment of exotic animals, and perhaps influenced him to be more compassionate to all animals.

But my listening may have been the problem–not our teenage tour guide–and I left thinking that I would like to go back to the eco station and listen better to the stories of the animals.

eco 5

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Biker Pig

Written By: Scot Butwell - Feb• 06•17

biker pig

This is a Google image of the biker pig motorcycle D and I assembled on his birthday because he smashed ours not long after we completed it.

That’s fine. Really. Okay, he could have let me take a picture of our collaborative efforts before shattering it to pieces.

His mom made a chocolate cake with white frosting and, two days later, a strawberry cake for my birthday. Both were delicious, and neither lasted long, since we all have a sweet tooth.

As for our collaboration, D ripping open the plastic bags, the tiny pieces nearly got mixed together, and a few pieces fell to the floor, and I got anxious, knowing the added difficulty we’d face with lost or missing pieces.

The truth is, D was more excited more to get to the angry bird figurines in the bags than construct the motorcycle, and unlike me, he wasn’t concerned at all about the difficulty of the task ahead.

“Hey, you knocked some pieces on the floor,” D told me a few times after he bumped more Legos on the floor.

It was one of those moments where I could feel myself starting to lose it, but I managed to hold it together. I realized it was only Legos, so we pressed forward on assembling the bike.

We followed the instructions step by step, snapping small pieces together and mostly working together, and 20 minutes later, we had finished and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

It was a Friday night, and following pictorial directions and handling teeny weeny Lego pieces was difficult after a long week of work, especially for someone like myself with limited mechanical skills.

Although I did probably 70 percent of the work, it was still a collaborative effort and I had fun working together with D, even if he shattered our biker pig motorcycle soon after we assembled it.

Afterwards, D and I joined his mom in the living room, and we all took an electronic break. The Wife and I fell asleep, and an hour later, D was still on his I-Pad, celebrating each tower knocked down by an angry bird.

 

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Quiet Time

Written By: Scot Butwell - Feb• 04•17

q times

We started by me reading one of Jesus’ parables from Luke’s gospel. It was about a fig tree and I explained how parables have two meanings, a literal and secret meaning.

I thought I had sold him on searching for the secret meaning after D mentioned–thanks to being a huge Veggie Tales fan–Jesus’ parable on building your house on solid rock.

Then, after reading the parable of the fig tree to him, I reiterated the key point with a dramatic voice. How every time the owner inspected the fig tree for fruit…there was no fruit.

I planned to transition to talking about the fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5:22: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, kindness, goodness and, my favorite, faithfulness.

I wanted D to inspect the fruit in his life, to think if his actions have been loving and kind, but he had no interest in a story on a fig tree bearing no fruit, even one with a hidden meaning.

“I don’t care,” D said after I emphasized a second time that the tree had borne no fruit.

So I switched to a story with people. A short man who was a rich tax collector and climbed up a tree to see Jesus. Although he knew this story, I hoped to plumb its meaning in depth.

***

In his story, Jesus came to a tree in Jericho and saw a little man. He looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for today (emphasis mine) I must stay at your house.’

Jesus made eye contact, called Zacchaeus by his name, and invited himself to be a guest at his house. This must have been a surprise not only to Zacchaeus, but also to the Jewish people.

And as Luke tells it, Zacchaeus hurried down and received Jesus gladly. And when the people saw it, they all began to grumble, sneering, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’

Hearing what the people said, Zacchaeus stopped and said to Jesus, ‘Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.’

Jesus declared, ‘Today (emphasis mine) salvation has come to this house because he, too, is a son of Abraham, for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

What made Zacchaeus confess his sins and publicly vow to repay those he cheated? There is only one possible answer: he had a empty void in his heart and knew only Jesus could fill it.

Interestingly, I thought later, it was the same story as Jesus’ parable of the fig tree, a man who was bearing no fruit and had no way for his sins to be forgiven…except by Jesus.

I know we didn’t plumb the depth of this story. Sure, we tried. We discussed details and what they meant. But I know we fell short of this simple truth: Jesus came to seek and save the lost.

 

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Still Smiling

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jan• 30•17

mom

She went through an emergency four-hour surgery to remove part of her colon and spent a week in the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital.

She now has a colostomy bag instead of a regularly working digestive system.

Her calcium and potassium were dangerously low one day this week, and with all the iv tubes inserted into her body, she looked more like a Christmas tree.

Her blood pressure has been high most days, she has had trouble putting down liquid food and threw up in a bag several times during one of my visits this week.

During another visit, she vomited out green projectiles.

She had a Styrofoam-looking pad called a wound vac inserted into her open wound in her stomach and, a week later, the wound became infected.

Her body has been pumped with antibiotics and other medications, it is hard to keep track, while she has been lying in bed for the past two weeks.

She ate chicken and rice for lunch the other day. It was her first solid food in two weeks.

She was discouraged by her inability to sit up more than seven minutes, but the next day she sat up for 40 minutes during her physical therapy session.

She has a long road of recovery ahead to regain her strength and, at age 83, she will have to give it all she’s got to recover.

But she’s still smiling, and I’ve seen her do it before when she broke her hip, so I know that she can do it again.

I see her body is becoming more frail, and sometimes she sleeps most of the day, but she has a determined spirit and, yes, she is anxious and afraid at times.

Yet, she is still trusting God in her situation.

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Break Dancing

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jan• 23•17

break dancing

No, D is not break dancing.

Although it looks like it.

We took a night walk to the park on his birthday. The lights were on at the basketball court. So I asked D to “do the snake,” a reference a You Tube clip with a snake who flips around like crazy and kills itself.

The video always sends D into convulsive giggles. So after he flopped around the ground, I poked D to see if it were alive, but the next time, I plan to join the scene by pretending I am a paramedic and give him CRP.

Call it You Tube Improv theatre.

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Sharks vs. Minnows

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jan• 23•17

cub scout

D’s favorite part of a Cub Scout pack meeting is the game and snack time. Anything involving running and a little craziness suits his temperament. It’s the same for pretty much all scouts.

The game at he latest pack meeting was sharks vs. minnows. Blind sharks, that is. And it got crazy.

The sharks in this game were innocent compared to the one in Jaws who eats a swimmer and continuously menaces the innocent in Steven Spielberg’s film. But they were a lot of fun to watch.

There were 30+ scouts, all running in a roughly 15 by 20-foot area, and as the blind sharks tried to tag the minnows, running with their eyes closed, there were a few close calls.

The meeting had a nice random feel because the assistant scoutmaster was a last minute fill in, and I liked how in winging it he gave several scouts public speaking opportunities.

The Pine Wood Derby winner for the past two years gave design tips on how to build a fast car: “You have to make it aerodynamic,” said the ten-year-old.

“What does aerodynamic mean?” the assistant scoutmaster asked. “You know, just in case anyone here does not know what that word means.”

And he gave the definition which means D will be up against stiff competition, and we better get started working to make his car, um, as aerodynamic as possible.

Another scout talked about an upcoming camp out. And then the assistant scoutmaster asked one of the older boys to explain the rules for sharks vs. minnows.

And that’s when it got crazy.

Fun crazy.

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