Here’s my list (I have a 7 year-old son Cole and 16 year-old son Seamus):
Launching Cole past the chandelier in our bedroom into the king bed filled with pillows.
With both my boys I love riding waves in the ocean, either with a boogie board or just body surfing. There’s something magical about the power of the water, the sun, and the pure joy of getting carried along towards the sandy shore.
Because Seamus’s mom and I are divorced we have often gone on trips together one-on-one to make up for lost time, whether he comes with me for a business trip or just to have fun.
Every morning when Cole wakes up (he’s an early riser) I go downstairs in search of a much-needed cup of coffee. When I return I bring him a bowl of cereal to eat in bed with his mom.
Seamus and I are season ticket holders to perhaps the worse college basketball team in the history of the NCAA. Going to games has become a ritual during which we route for our hopeless team and have time to talk while our squad gets crushed, again.
I have always enjoyed being physical with my boys in a playful way. Seamus actually taught me the torture of being “type-writered” which means pinning the other person with their arms between your legs while you poke them on the chest. Cole giggles to the point of crying when we wrestle in this way.
Ever March since he was ten, Seamus and I have entered a suicide pool for March Madness. Often it is school break and he is with his mom, so we have extensively daily phone calls throughout the tournament to plot strategy.
I am the designated putter-to-bedder. That means I carry my 7 year-old down the hall, tuck him into his cowboy bunk bed and climb in beside him to read a book, turn out the light, and snuggle until I hear his breathing change to the sound of sleep.
I often go across the hall and lay on Seamus’s bed while he sits at his desk doing his homework to talk about the day, sports, academics, and life. Those conversations always end in, “I love you.”
I’ve spent countless hours in the pool with Cole. He likes to get thrown in the air and dive underwater to exchange secret messages via sign language.
I asked some of my buddies who have boys and here is what they told me:
“Develop and deploy backyard ballistic weapons, like bottle rockets and marshmallow guns.”
“Journal (we sit in the back yard and daydream in our journals, draw pictures, design dream houses etc.)”
“Play nerdy games (king of Tokyo, munchkin, ninja burger, netrunner, knightmare chess).”
“Volunteer at homeless events.”
“Drag them along on ‘missions’, which are usually errands but calling them ‘missions’ makes them more adventuresome.”
“Skiing. Watching the progression knowing I only have two to three years until I can’t keep up or it just isn’t cool to hang with Dad.”
“Walking through town talking about whatever is on his mind, knowing that the honest and unfiltered conversations might not last long.”
“Fishing. There is nothing better than seeing the look on their faces when they hook into a 4 inch sun fish!! Size doesn’t matter!”
“Walking my daughter to school (first grade) and bringing her two younger brothers along for the ride. The kids pile into the red wagon. It’s just nice to start the day with a walk to school and see all the other parents and kids doing the same.”
image: Cole giving me the sign