Friday, May 18, 2007

Blog Bonanza....

Aka_Monty has been a bit of an inspiration for me. Today is a blog bonanza about a book "Dangerous Book for Boys". You can read about it from her blog above. I haven't read it or about it except from Monty's blog.

I have to agree with Monty, I think that too often gender lines are drawn where they do not belong. Too often we are stigmatized because of our gender, and it affects all of society in a huge variety of ways. When people call to talk to a parent about my son, they ask for his mom. Forms are written to assume that the mother is the caretaker, the father is just a nearly useless attachment. A lot of information is shared amongst groups of women, especially stay at home moms, that never seem to make it to the fathers/men. As a single working parent and a man, I see it all the time. I've seen the jokes about incapable men, and I have seen some incapable men, but I have seen the same in women too. I just wince when I see the gender stereotypes being applied because it hurts far deeper than we realize, and we are teaching it to our children. The stigma attached to both sides is unwarranted most of the time, because if we really look closely, most of it applies to both genders of the species.

But that is not really what the post is about. More or less it is about teaching our children what there is to see and do in the world by first not being so overprotective, knowing that our children will get hurt, and they will heal. The post is also about what there really is to do based on some experiences from my own Dangerous childhood.

I want my son to experience it all. We started geocaching a few years ago. Want to get out, do some hiking, and have some great fun and experiences? Try geocaching. It is like a scavenger/treasure hunt. Step 1, get a handheld GPS unit. You can find some for around $100. Expensive I know. I haven't seen any cheaper, but maybe there are. Step 2, sign up at You can get a free membership or pay. Either way works great. Step 3, find some geocaches near you. You can take your gps unit outside your front door, get your position, and use that at as your home coordinates. It will then show you a list of caches in increasing order of distance from your coordinates. Step 4, get some knick knacks. Step 5, go find it. Step 6, when / if you find it, take something, leave something, sign the log, take some pictures, and have fun. Step 7, see step 3. :-)

Hiking is just a great activity all the way around. You never really know what you are going to run into or see. Snakes, deer, turtles, rabbits, frogs, lizards, eagles, hawks, ospreys, owls, squirrels, chipmunks, ground hogs, wild horses, boar, aligators, coyotes, bears, rocks, bugs, crazy looking beetles, centipedes, creeks, streams, rivers, and so much more. My son ran down a steep rocky slope once at Patapsco park in Maryland. As fast as he could he ran. I was one step behind him and could not catch up. I was expecting him to lose his footing and tumble literally head over heels, but he didn't. We walk on fallen trees across streams and into swamps. In Richmond, at Belle Isle State Park, there is a huge area of exposed boulders where the James rivers routes around the North side. I teach him to run up and down the boulders, how to jump from one to the other, and how to look for where snakes may be hiding. We have found a few there. We did a six mile hike once in a wild life refuge. We stopped on the way home to eat. We watched VT play football and picked blue crab for a couple of hours. The waitress said he was the best behaved boy she had ever seen. I laughed and said, we just hiked six miles, he is too tired to move, and loves crab so he doesn't want to miss a bite! :-) We go kayaking at a local canal lock nearby. I call it canal surfing. When the locks open, the boats come flying out with big wakes. We line up and I paddle like mad. I tell Brandon to lean forward, and we surf the wakes. He loves it. Kayaking back in March was fantastic for my son and the other boy that came along. Nothing like hiking through marsh mud, finding hermit crabs and conchs while the dads are dragging the kayaks because it is low tide and our timing was lousy. Imagine how they loved playing in the dunes and the vast expanse of exposed beach with millions of shells and sand dollars. I've been trying to get him up on a snowboard for the last couple of years. The lack of snow this year hampered that effort, but he is really getting better. We have been ice skating for the last couple of years, but Brandon just wasn't really getting it. This year he did amazing, almost like he was born with the skates on. I might be able to get him surfing this year, we will see. I encourage him to climb, and sometimes I regret it. He does great at the rock gym, and the various trees around, but when he tries to climb on top of the U.S. Constitution at the National Archives, or scaled the IRS building I really start to rethink that decision. Now, given his nature, he really does it naturally. I've taught him how to ride and navigate the metro in DC. He plays poker at lunch in school. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not. :-) We go to art museums, and he loves art. We build sand sculptures and castles at the beach. I've taught him how to make tunnels and moats. We do so much more.

Some things I did as a child, I hope he doesn't experience....No need to catch an alligator, it is a victory that doesn't last long. You quickly realize that there is not a parent on the planet cool enough to let you keep it. Well, we never got the chance to ask, the police showed up just as we got it out of the creek and took it away. I hope he never dislocates or breaks anything. I've been teaching him to tuck and roll, and he learned it in karate too, so I hope that saves him some pain. I hope he never nearly cuts his thumb off while trying to get to the core of a golf ball. Once you get the skin off it isn't so bad, and depending on the ball, there is some cool stuff. some are essentially a really long rubber band wound up really tight and small. You can really make some deep cuts in your thumb and still heal fine without stitches. No need to really get within touching distance of poisonous snakes. No need to ride a bike down really steep hills with no hands. No need to hit the front brakes of a 10 speed while going really fast. No need to play football on pavement where you can make a flying catch, get tangled in a bike, and all your weight on a knee. He doesn't have any siblings, so no chance of him hitting his brother in the head with a baseball. He doesn't need to experience chiggers. Nobody should have to go through that.

Some things I would like for him to do. Play in the tide pools around Pacific Grove on the Monterey Bay. Hike in Yosemite. See the stars in the desert in Nevada. Snowboard the slopes in Utah. Whitewater raft anywhere. See the Grand Canyon. Experience snorkeling and scuba diving. Have the courage to do just about anything he wants. Have the courage to fall in love, and truly love.

None of this is limited to any gender. I would want the same things for my daughter, if I had one. And I wish I did. Sure there are differences, but people deserve a chance regardless of their gender. I wish there were more women in my field. I would want a woman to do all of the above with. Not competitively, but cooperatively, sharing the experiences with each other and our children.

The world is dangerous, but even more so if we try too hard to protect our children from it, rather than teaching them about it.



  1. The things you are doing with Brandon are wonderful. My ex would rarely do ANYTHING at all with the kids.

  2. I agree, I think you're doing a great job! :)
    I don't think you even need that book for guidance, although there are a lot of things in there (from what I understand) that are cool, like how to play poker and navigate by the stars, and historical battles that you can act out & stuff like that.
    But you're already ahead of the game, I'm thinking. :D

  3. Dude - you do the most awesome and inspirational activities with your boy. That makes you a fantastic parent in my books.

  4. I'm not awesome, just involved. I have to find a way for him to get involved with the other kids in school and stuff. He is very clingy to me and I am afraid that he sees me as more of his brother/best friend than his dad.


I will not accept advertising in the body of comments. If you leave links to spam, goods, or services it will be deleted. If you embed HTML it will be deleted. For any number of other reasons I may delete the comment. I do this for the safety and well being of the readers of the blog.