During my vacation this summer my family did some of those fun “stay-cation” things you can do here in beautiful NorCal. We went to see a movie together, we ate out, we went into San Francisco to visit the new Museum of Modern Art to enjoy its stunning architectural spaces and artwork. Good times! We were having so much fun that I just wanted to keep the good times rolling. “Hey tomorrow lets head down to Carmel!” I suggested. “No, the Soberanes fire is making the air quality horrible,” I was reminded. “Well then let’s go see another movie,” I threw out. “No, there’s no more movies worth seeing,” everyone agreed. “How about going to the boardwalk?” I offered weakly. “No, we’ve been to the boardwalk so many times that it’s not interesting anymore.” I was trying to do everything I could to do something really fun together and keep the good times rolling, but the harder I tried the more it wasn’t happening.
This conversation continued while I went out and ran an errand. When I got back Aleta said, “We have a plan! We’re staying home. The boys want to build stuff with you.” She went on to tell me that my daughter came up with some fun plans with her friends and my sons Michael and Joshua really didn’t want to have fun – they just wanted to build stuff with their dad. Really!? Building with dad was more important in their minds than fun, and I’m talking about fun that I was willing to pay for? The answer was – Yes!
Michael had invested in three very cool pocket synthesizers made in Sweden or Norway or some exotic Euro country. One of them creates cool synth percussion, the other creates different sounds, and his newest one creates cool “chip tune” (the official new music term for the kind of music produced in video games) melodies. He wanted to make a box that was specifically engineered to hold his pocket synthesizers in one place. So we had a fun time engineering and designing this wooden box that would hold his instruments and prepare him to be a DJ at some dance party in the future. It was a lot of work and a lot of fun as you can see in the picture.
At the same time Joshua wanted to make his own ping-pong paddle. You see he had almost beaten his camp counselor in ping-ping the previous week at camp. He came so close to defeating his old counselor that he came home with a plan. Step 1 – make a paddle. Step 2 – practice. Step 3 – prepare to beat counselor. So on this day we got to work on Step 1 – make a paddle. We laminated a few pieces of melanine together, then cut out and slowly sanded into a shape a proper handle and the next day we finished a pretty cool home-made ping-pong paddle. All in all both projects with my two boys turned out to be a whole lot more fun, cost less money, and are memories I will always treasure, and who knows maybe they will treasure it too.
My time with Michael and Josh served as a good reminder that more than being entertained to death, my kids just want to do stuff, and build stuff with their dad who loves them a ton. I would have missed my opportunity if I’d pressed my agenda of fun, but because I listened to what they really desired we entered into something very special.