FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

Toys For Sale

Written By: Scot Butwell - Aug• 04•16


D: “Tell me the story when I sold C’s toys.”

Me: “It was a hot summer day, and you and C were going to the park, just like every other day. Except this time, C brought his red wagon with a cardboard box filled with his toys.”

D: “Who was in the box?”

Me: “There was Sheriff Woody, Buzz Lightyear…and…Rrrooarr! Rex, Slinky, Mr. Potatohead and who else… (I make a wheezing sound).

D: “Wheezy.”

Me: There was Wheezy, and there was let’s see…(I grunt in a low-pitch)

D: “Terrance from the Angry Birds.”

Me: “And Bomb, Chuck, Red, Hal, the Blue Birds, and Matilda…

D: “No, Matida stayed at home.”

Me: “Oh, yeah, Matilda stayed home with Barbie to do their fingernails. They wanted to look good for their boyfriends, Terrance and Ken.”

D: “Don’t forget about Lotso.”

Me: So, there was Lotso, and as C pulling his wagon up the hill, you heard a voice saying, “D, please rescue us…we need be saved from C.”

D: “It was Rex.”

Me: Rex said, “C is a bad owner. He plays video games all day and doesn’t play with us anymore. And you know what else?”

D: “What?”

Me: “His room is filth. There are rotten bananas and moldy food on the floor. It’s a health hazard, and we’re going to die–unless you save us.”

D: “I will save you Rex.”

Me: “So, when C looked away from his wagon, you grabbed the handle and ran down the winding trail.”

D: “While all the guys yelled, “Mush! Mush! Mush!”

Me: “Save us, D, they all yelled. While C came chasing after you, screaming, “Get back here with my Toys. Those are my toys! You can’t take my toys.”

D: “At the bottom of the hill, I yelled, ”Toys for sale, toys for sale. Who wants to buy Sheriff Woody? Batteries not included.”

Me: “And C started to get panicky because he thought you were going to sell his toys. And I told him, “D is not really selling your toys. But he didn’t believe me.”

D: “And he started to get real panicky when…”

Me: “Four boys heard you yelling ‘toys for sale,’ and so they came over and asked, “Are you really selling C’s toys?”

D: “Yep, I said, who wants to buy Sheriff Woody?”

Me: “And so you sold all of C’s toys, and when C looked in the cardboard box, his eyes widened because it was empty.”

D: “What did C do next?”

Me: “C lifted up his arm in the arm, shook his fists (which I act out) and screamed, “D, you ruined my life. My life is RUINED!!!” My life is over. I might as well die.”

D: “And then what happened?”

Me: “Then C picked up a rock (I swing my arm like about to lasso a bull)…

D: “No, that’s not how he threw the rock. He threw it like this (he flicks his wrist back and forward).

Me: “Okay, C pulled his wrist back and threw the rock at you and (I pretend to have a rock in my hand) and the rock went straight towards your head.”

D: “But I intercepted it and threw it back at him.”

Me: “And the he jumped up and down, screaming, crying, and saying, “I’m never going to be your friend again, D.”

This story happened when D was seven, and for the next couple of years, D would ask me to tell him the when he sold C’s toys at bedtime and other times of the day.

Originally, I took D home in huff, angry that he couldn’t play with his friend without any problems, but then I had an idea. I pulled out a marker board and sectioned it off into six squares for scenes.

D drew stick figure pictures of what happened, scene by scene, and we had an inciting incident, progressive complications, a crisis and climax-but no resolution.

It looked to me like movie scenes from a DVD menu, and I almost forgot, a working outline to role play what happened at the park to help D develop empathy for how C felt when “he sold C’s toys.”

They say persons who are on the autism spectrum have a deficit in what’s called theory of mind, meaning they have difficulty understanding others have a different perspective than their own.

So I thought this would be an opportunity to help D think about C’s perspective was a lot different than his own, and it might even affect the permanence of their friendship.

That was my objective. Honest.

But as I ran around the house chasing D, screaming “those are my toys! You can’t sell my toys!” over and over, I started to have doubts on the efficacy of my plan.

D was having too much fun replaying what happened, and as soon as we finished one scene, we started the next scene after a quick glance at our storyboard.

“Cut,” D yelloed when the scene was finished.

L came out of her office to see what all the screaming was about. I explained what we were doing, and she didn’t think it was a good idea.

“I know you think that you are teaching D to have empathy for C, but all you doing is teaching him to make fun of his friend.”

She went back to her office, and we resumed acting out the scenes, going through all sex scenes three times, before it was time for D’s swimming lesson.

My take away…

He told me later that one of the toys—Rex from Toy Story—whispered to him to rescue Sheriffriff Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Mr. Potato Head, Slinky from C because he was a bad owner.

“You can’t sell my toys,” C wailed, bursting into tears. “Those are my toys. You can’t sell my toys.”

I tried convincing him D was not really selling his toys, but D kept yelling “toys for sale” in a loud voice. This lent credibility to the sale and then four boys came over to check it out.

“Are you really selling C’s toys?” One of the boys asked D.


And then it got ugly. C threw a rock at D. It missed, but D threw it back at C, who let out a piercing cry and jumped up and down, telling D he was never going to be his friend ever again.

D and I went home, and I gave D a time out. But then I realized this didn’t actually address the root of the problem–D’s lack of empathy for how C was feeling during his toy sale.

So I decided for us role play what happened. We created a storyboard on a marker board with six scenes and, honestly, it felt more like we were plotting out an outline for a movie.

Then came the acting—and in an effort to create authenticity—we both used dramatic, emotional voices, and there was a inciting incident scene of me chasing D all through the house.

“Come back with my wagon,” I wailed over and over. “You can’t take my wagon! Those are my toys. You can’t sell my toys—they’re my toys.”

Then I became the four boys, asking D the price of each one of C’s toys, and ones of us yelled “cut.” And then we we would replay the scene over again because we were having so much fun.

We briefly discussed each new scene—like a director and actor—before one of us yelled, “action!” And then one of us yelled “cut” again, and D immediately wanted to do the scene another time.

L walked by out production and Issued her stamp of disapproval. “You think that you are teaching him to have empathy for C, but what you are really doing is making fun of his friend.”

A few hours passed, and it was time for his swim lesson. Even though our acting didn’t develop empathy for C, we had fun and it allowed me to let go of my frustration over the situation.

The next few weeks, we acted out the story at the park and the beach, and he asked me to tell him the story at bedtime–each time the story gaining a more epic quality in its latest form.

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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.


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



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 Fights

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jul• 06•16

chicken fight

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

“Chicken fight,” I said.

D and I been searching an activity to do for most of the day, and when D’s legs accidentally pulled C’s shorts halfway down, I was staring at D’s favorite super hero on C’s underwear.

Hello, Captain America.

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

And we laughed, and laughed some more at the homemade videos.

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

It was exactly what I imagine it would be like if D had a brother. They would bicker and fight; and there would be a lot strife, but they would have fun and have to learn to resolve conflicts.

And then we put lawn chairs on the sidewalk in front of our home and watched fireworks shoot in the sky.

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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 Saturday mornings, and if climbing stair railings were an actual sport, D would become a champion climber.

“That’s dangerous,” L said, flipping through pictures on my phone and seeing D scaling a step stair railing .

This is D’s way of navigating every environment. Find the nearest physical obstacle–railing, fence, tree, trash can, sculpture–and scale it.

D and I met a girl with an imagination as wonderful as his at a small park at the top of the stairs. She was six years old, and just as with D, pretending came as natural to her as breathing.

We all climbed up a tree, and the girl asked D and I if we wanted to play Girls of the Jungle, a game she plays with her friends, but then she looked at us and realized we were not girls.

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

Game on.

She told us to come up with new names for ourselves, and when a growling tiger suddenly appeared at the bottom of the tree, she told us to give ourselves special powers, and we killed the tiger witb our dragon-fire breathe, and we added layer after layer to the storyline, D and I following the lead of her six-year-old imagination.

Call it improv in a tree. Plenty of giving 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


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 “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).


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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

tricks 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 dirt with grit and a sponge,

drying off cars and staying focused,

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 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–my car–would soon be done

and the next car would be on the way.

C started scrubbing with a sponge,

and then, it all, well, went haywire.

D poured more soap in the bucket

(“that’s wasting soap,”I yelled)

and sprayed C with the hose, and

our towels got wet and the gardener

asked if we could stop so he could mow,

and I was beginning to lose my patience,

and that was the end of our car wash.

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