FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

Watching Workers Work

Written By: Scot Butwell - Oct• 02•16

c-and-d-in-treeD and I went to the park with his friend C. They climbed their favorite y-shaped tree and watched six workers building a well. They both had on red t-shirts and blue shorts and their eyes were fixed on the workers.

“Did you guys call each other to wear the same colors,” I said, a joke I realized was above their heads.

The well has taken over two years to build. The street dug up for underground pipes. Fences surround a huge section of the park. We often park far away due to no parking signs.

D and C kept staring at the workers, D’s mouth hanging open, as if they wondered what it will be like to be grown up and have to go work every day. Honestly, I’d never seen sit them still for this long.

“I bet they make $48 a day,” C said.

I thought about correcting him by telling him it was more like $48 an hour, but figured he’d learn the economics of a paycheck when it was time. And then I wondered what D was thinking.

Was he thinking what his future vocation might be? Was he appreciating the innocence of childhood? Was he thinking what it was like to be grown up and working? Or was he thinking nothing at all?

I watched too, thankful for this quiet moment and chance to rest; not really thinking, just being with D and his friend, enjoying not working, and having no plans.

The workers laughed and kidded each another. I thought, this is how work should be done. Not too serious. Done with camaraderie and a light-hearted spirit. Remember this, I told myself.

C told me how he wanted to be a teacher when he became grown up. D threw a rock near the fence towards the workers, making, perhaps, a symbolic statement. And then the moment ended.

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Beginnings

Written By: Scot Butwell - Aug• 04•16

I didn’t see it,

the bright green

glow of the grass,

the soft texture

beneath our feet,

the blue sky above,

flowers and figures,

but he saw it all.

I was oblivious

to it all

 

No, I didn’t see it

the way he did.

 

He noticed every

color and shape,

like a budding artist,

the intricate patterns

the compositions

unfolding before us,

nature’s art work.

 

We swam together,

D floating in his vest,

me a few feet ahead.

He liked drifting

in the blueish water,

with me pulling him

in a zigzag pattern.

 

We took the same

route most days.

He found grass

strange at first.

And he liked to

run up a hill to

explore the plaza.

 

 

 

In the beginning, I

held him in my arms,

his heart beating against

my own, my arm draped

over his back, his eyes

looking over my shoulder,

a black cat named Blackie

always following behind us.

 

 

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Toy Sale

Written By: Scot Butwell - Aug• 04•16
  1. c-and-do

C wax D’s neighborhood fririend–his first friend–from the age of five to ten. We lived across the street from C’s family, and I first became acquainted with C when he was standing in the middle of the street in his diapers.

A truck was driving down our street, and I scooped C out of harm’s way. He was two, and about a year or so later, D and C became friends and the three of us would regularly go to the park.

They had ups and downs–most caused by D–in their friendship and there were many times when C  said to D, “I am never going to be your friend ever again” after D did something to him.

Usually pinching or pushing him, but D also threw his toys in the pond (he once pushed C in the pond) or over a wall. They fought over a blue swing at the park, and their friendship taught them both about forgiveness.

I came to expect the unexpected, and in the summer before D began third grade one of those long hot days (that can lead to mischievous acts), I still didn’t see this particular one coming

“Tell me the story about when I tried to sell C’s toys,” D said for the next month after it happened. It is quite a funny story, and as himself as the protagonist, he loved hearing me tell the story with all the details.

It started off when C brought his wagon loaded with his toys to the park. He pulled it to the top of a hill and when he wasn’t looking, D grabbed the handle and ran down the hill with the wagon–and C in hot pursuit.

There was nothing too unusual there. It was standard behavior for D. What happened next was different as far as D’s usual behavior at the park.

“Toys for sale…toys for sale, ‘ D began yelling at the bottom of the hill. “Toys for sale. Who wants to buy Sheriff Woody. Batteries not included.”

I chuckled at his last line, but C burst into tears. I tried convincing him D was not really selling his toys, but D kept yelling “toys for sale” which lent credibility to the alleged sale.

Then four curious boys came over, giving even more credibility to the sale. At least in C’s eyes. “Are you really selling C’s toys?” they asked D.

Yep, he said, giving a complete inventory of C’s toys: Woody and Buzz Lightyear,  Rex, Mr. Potato Head and Weazy–all from the movie Toy Story.

I don’t remember what happened next–until C picked up a rock and threw it at D, and I intercepted it and D iinstantly grabbed it out of my hand. He threw it at C, who let out a piercing, whimpering cry after it hit him, and he jumped up and down screaming.

I remember we went home and I made D write a sentence ten times. Then I realized this didn’t address the root of the problem–D’s lack of empathy for how C was feeling with his toy sale.

So I decided to have D role play with me what happened, hoping it might develop empathy for how C felt. We created a storyboard on a marker board with six scenes and it felt more like plotting the outline for a movie.

Then came the acting and, I have to admit, we both excelled at our individual roles. We were enthusiastic and recreated the scene with dramatic voices and action.

First, there was the chase scene: D stealing C’s wagon and me chasing him all through the house. “Come back here with my wagon,” I kept yelling and half crying.  “That’s my wagon! You can’t take my wagon–that’s my wagon.”

Next, there was D’s monologue, I am giving hope to others, to explain his reason for selling C’s toys. Apparently, he was donating C’s toys to raise money for a cause. An unspecified cause. Then I became the four boys, bartering with D over the prices of C’s toys.

This part was creative license to increase tension in the scene; that part didn’t happen at the park. Dialogue flowed back and forth between us, and we practiced the scene a few times before one of us yelled “cut.”

And then we reviewed the next scene before one of us yelled, “action!” I gave tiny bits of directorial input before each scene and we practiced each one more than once before performing our six scene production for his mom.

She didn’t like our production. “You are making fun of C,” she said of my crying character. “You are teaching D to make fun of his friend. It’s not teaching him to have empathy for C.”

She was was probably right. But a few hours passed by, and it was time for D’s swim lesson. My frustration with D was long gone, and even though he didn’t develop empathy for C, we had a lot of fun acting out the scenes together.

The next few weeks, we acted out the story at the park and on the sand the beach, and he continuously asked me to tell him the story at bedtime–and each time the story gained a more an epic quality in its repetition.

 

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Swim Lesson

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jul• 26•16

swim 1

This is D’s first swim lesson of the summer. D said was a little scared, but he knew God would be there with him in the pool.

“God told me to brave,” he said, afterwards.

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D is for Dance

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jul• 25•16

d is for dance

D getting his groove on along with his friend C at Kid Concepts, USA. This was before their dance turned into a wrestling match.

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Movie Time

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jul• 15•16

d and me 2

Here’s what we’ve been watching this summer:

  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 sat in a red lawn chair,

across the street from D

and his friend C playing.

I rubbed sunscreen all

over my body as they

took 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 chirped at me.

c-and-d-watr

I made up 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 have to let

him grow up,

navigate situations

talk with friends,

respond to overtures,

learn to problem solve

like asserting it was 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

often act like brothers.

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.

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

thumb.

 

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

flying through the air,

these micro-size packets

of joy, makes D

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 started it all.

D and C were swinging from the monkey bars. It was a few hours before Fourth of July fireworks, and when D wrapped his legs around C’s waist and tried to pull him down, I gave a name to it.

“Chicken fight,” I said.

We’d been searching for something to do, and I was thankful we’d found something, and when D’s legs accidentally pulled C’s shorts halfway down, I was staring at his favorite super hero.

Hello, Captain America.

So they took turns trying to pull each other down. Skyler, the daughter of C’s mom’s friend, video recorded the chicken fights. And then we huddled around her phone and watched them.

And we laughed.

C made loud wailing noises in the first few videos. This was before he realized he didn’t need to be a passive victim. Then the chicken fights became more competitive.

It was two boys having fun, and it was very fine entertainment (a fine line between boyish fun and potential for trouble), and exactly what I imagine it would be like if D had a brother 24/7.

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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 was 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 to me: “You can become our dad. Do you want to be our dad?”

Game on.

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

Thus, the tiger was killed, I believe, by dragon-like fire breathes, and we added layer after layer, both 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 twenty minutes.

Times like this don’t happen enough.

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Thoughts on Summer Reading

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jul• 05•16

img_4101

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.

reading

(He likes making “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.

barnes n

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.

cap upants

Sure enough, a half hour later, he asked to go to Barnes and Nobles, and he spent at least 15 to 20 minutes reading books, on two or three different 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 and, a few weeks later, he earned his summer reading prize–a book (we filled in books he’d read).

d-sum-reading

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