It’s Playtime

On a recent weekend I found myself the designated grandchildren adhoc guardian for the afternoon while my wife and daughter went shopping. One hour they told me. Certainly I could handle the responsibility for one hour. Well, Jackson was easy. He lately has been into games of strategy and wanted to play solitaire on my phone and who was I to deny him that. Adela was a bit more of a challenge. She is into role playing, imagination and, as a three year old, silly games.

We began with a game I can only describe as “stay on your island”. She would sidle up against one wall of the hallway and order me to the opposite side. Without warning, she would leap to the opposite side and after several failed attempts, I determined I was to mirror the leap to the other opposite side and anticipate her next leap. This went on for, oh let’s say, longer than I was ready, when Adela eventually announced a new game.

Her new game would involve us throwing balls into the laundry bin, but not until she had ample time spent wearing the laundry bin over her head all the while bouncing off the walls blinded by its canvas sides. This new game of “laundry ball” wound up requiring several trips to the playroom to retrieve additional balls of varying size, “no taking the balls back out Opa.” Though interesting for a short time, it was no where near as fun as wearing the laundry bin and was thus not destined to last long.

After several trips to her playroom, sweet Adela emerged with two super hero costumes. She commanded me to put on the green one. I took one look at what she had rolled up in her hands and plotted my escape from this potentially embarrassing playtime activity. My poorly framed excuse was to announce that there was no way I would fit into whatever it was she had for me. With hands on her hips and a look of scorn that could bring down a charging rhino, she proclaimed, dripping with the sarcasm of a three year old, “It’s just a cape Opa.” Jackson, looking up from his solitaire intelligently affirmed that anyone could fit into a cape and warned me that I was going to do some running. Great, they have teamed up on me and I have become the victim.

After donning my cape and having my mask correctly placed on by Adela, how was I to know it was upside down, I was given my instructions. Over the next fifteen minutes we would circle the rooms of the house chasing away the bad guys as super heroes are destined to do. Up one hallway and down the other, through the kitchen and circle the living room, I was unsure I could last. But, I surprised even myself and managed to keep up with my relay mate, Adela.

As I drove home later that day, I mused on having been an almost seventy year old, playing unashamedly with my granddaughter. I started to think back on my own father and asked myself, did he play like that? Now it is only reasonable that I offer a disclaimer. I was raised on a small dairy farm and my dad barely had time to do much of anything other than run the dairy operation, crop the fields and hold down at least two additional part time jobs in an effort to give my five siblings and I the best life he could. It is hardly fair to have expected him to don a cape and run around the house with us, though I must say in hindsight that he deserved a chance to play and a cape for all he did. My dad instead spent his time teaching us how to manage our time, how to be responsible, and how to fix the things in life that kept seeming to break, lessons I have benefitted from throughout my life. He quietly, for the most part, left the playing to my siblings and I.

I am both happy and proud of the fact that I have the time to play. My generation grew up with parents who had been taught by their parents to work hard, to achieve and to survive, and that left little room for play. Though he may not have “played” with me, my dad taught me to fish, or should I say, he tried to teach me. He encouraged me to find time to do more than he ever had the opportunity to do and he taught me about family, about being there in work or play. And for that, I admire him.

I hope you all find time in your day to play. Play reduces stress and, in the case of chasing a three year old, provides great exercise. It reminds us to stop growing old but rather to grow bold, bold enough to play with a child even if it might make you look silly.

Go put on a cape, don a mask, and let a child fall in love with an oversized, slightly awkward, has to be told the rules, playmate. You just might find your imagination supersized.

Who Doesn’t Love a Great Fish Story

I need to start this blog with a disclaimer or two. First, as grandparent I have every right, no duty, to brag about my grand kids. Second, this blog is going to include fish stories. My disclaimer is to accurately describe my abilities as a fisherman. They don’t exist, at least not in reality. I am an impatient fisherman and one the fish don’t fear. I can cast with the best of them. I can bait a hook. I just don’t catch anything and it may be due to my impatience. No worm, cast by me, has ever stayed in the water long enough to have ever experienced drowning. That’s if worms actually drown. As soon as I have cast my line, I am reeling it in with the speed of gazelle fleeing a hungry lion. Even if the fish wanted to try the bait, they can’t move fast enough to catch it. I have repeatedly been boated back to shore by the master fisherman who was going to teach me the art of fishing, often because they do not cater to my pacing in their boat.

That said, my six year old grandson, Jackson, decided it was time I teach him to fish. Reluctantly, given my history, I agreed to try but warned him, that for the most part he was going to be on his own. I explained the art of the cast, decided we would buy a dozen night crawlers and some leeches and proceeded down to our dock. At this point, Jackson decided I could do the baiting and he would reel in the fish. I loved his optimism. If only he knew the skill set of his teacher. Enter Jackson’s three year old sister, Adela. She claimed to have no desire to catch fish, but oh how she loved the worms. Within minutes, she was providing me with the next worm while gently stroking and cooing to another as her pet. Lest you think this a fluke and that when we switched bait to leeches, she would be long gone, oh how wrong you are. Leeches fascinated her even more. She wanted to know if we could save one for her to take home as a pet. Mom was an immediate and stern NO!

But let’s get back to the fisherman. With hook baited, the cast was made and almost immediately, a bite. Sure that he would simply feed the worm to this adventurous fish, I simply said that he needed to give the line a jerk. Fish number one. Nothing to mount on the cottage walls, but he caught it and got it to the dock. Surely beginners luck. Cast number two and three came up empty and I figured he would be retiring soon. And then the surprise. Jackson, though a focused Lego builder, has never shown a great amount of patience, must have got one of his Opa’s genes. For the next half hour, he was undeterred. Cast after cast and several missed catches, Jackson continued to fish with an intensity that was border line scaring me. It dawned on me that if he ever caught a big one, we were going to need to buy a boat and hire a professional fishing guide to satisfy his lust for the sport. And then it happened, Jackson, on his own, somehow developed what the great fisherman describe as ‘the feel’. He caught three or four fish in rapid succession, each one larger than the last. Where he had been catching 4 and 5 inch crappies, he suddenly caught several 6 – 8 inch rock bass. Now he wanted the big stuff. And so I started him fishing out on the ridge, a fairly long cast beyond the confines of the dock, but he was sure the big ones were just swimming about out there waiting for Jackson to catch them.

Within two casts, he had a 10 inch small mouth bass. Two more casts and a 12 inch bass found his deftly placed hook. It was at this point that I selfishly decided it might be Adela’s choice of bait and my somehow expert mounting of that bait on the hook that was bringing this unbridled success. By this time, out of worms and fishing for the ‘big ones’, we had switched to leeches. As Jackson’s mom, aunt Kat and I were relaxing in the boat tied up to the dock, Jackson said he was good to handle things himself. We were clearly distracted, when Jackson calmly declares that he’s caught another one that he thinks is a bass and might be a bit bigger. As we turn to look, he is reeling in, with pole bent over, a large mouth bass that is measuring in at an easy 14 inches. Mom was so shocked, that she took a 30 second video of his prize without turning on the video. Jackson just offered to catch another. And he did, several more times.

In the course of two days of fishing from the dock, the score sat at Dad, 1, Opa, 0, Aunt Kat, 1, and Jackson 20! No contest. I warned you that Opas have the inherent privilege of being overly proud of their grandchildren. Now you in fact may be a fisherman reading this blog and thinking none of these fish were anything to crow about, but let’s put things in perspective. He’s SIX!, he has potentially the worst fisherman ever as his instructor and he’s coming from a family that not only doesn’t fish, they don’t even eat fish! I would say he has overcome the odds.

I am impressed to say the least and proud enough to pop the buttons on my fishing vest if I had one. And that 6 inch crappie mounted on the wall of the cottage will forever serve as testament to the day Jackson became a fisherman…….. No, I didn’t really mount the fish, but it would have been a great story.

What’s the Greatest Thing about being a Grandpa?

We are given children and we become parents.  We nurture them.  We support their every need.  We watch them grow, gritting our teeth through the tough times, loving them even when they tell you they want new parents.  We hold our breath as they take their first steps and then again when they take their big steps….. first day of school, first date, first job.  And then, just about the time you are ready to be put out to the parenthood pasture, they make you a grandpa.

You get to start all over, maybe even fix a few of your mistakes.  You once again get to feel a tiny hand in yours just like you felt so long ago.  You get to see the wonder and awe of every new thing through their innocent eyes.  You get to watch the progress of life all over again, and somehow, as different as it is, it is somehow so strangely the same.

This time around, you get to be the spoiler when you want to.  You get to call everything an adventure and declare every day a McDonald’s day.  After all, why shouldn’t each day have  a happy meal.  You get to be the historian, reliving the past with stories and recreating it with activities.  You might even get to rebuild the clubhouse their mom played in as a little girl.  Oh it’s a bit bigger this time around and even a tad fancier, but that’s just what grandpas do.  And when they climb up into their clubhouse, the smile on their face makes all the aches and pains of a now much older carpenter, go magically away.

Original Clubhouse

1989 Original Clubhouse


2018 New Clubhouse

But what’s the greatest thing about being a grandpa.  Simply put…..everything.  They say life begins again after forty or whatever age you pick, but I say life begins again with the birth of each new grandchild.   It’s life’s sequel playing out before your very eyes and once again you are given a supporting role.

Glad to be Opa and pleased with the gift of a second go round.

I wonder as he wanders

My grandson, Jackson, is now four years old and is into his “why” years.  To his credit he generally accepts your answer to his why question fairly gracefully.  He may follow the first why with several additional whys but he is usually satisfied within three or four.  Jackson is observant and is constantly checking out everything as to how it works.  I have stepped into my role as Opa and have taken him on excursions to discover new things.  Along the way, Jackson has become very fond of Home Depot.  Before I wander further, I must compliment Home Depot on the clever marketing trick that they have developed to lure in unsuspecting grandpas with their grandchildren.  Every other Saturday or so they offer a free “build it” class for kids.  They cordon off an area in the lumber aisle and the kids get a complimentary craft kit and are able to assemble and paint their project.  Now how can they afford all those free precut kits and paint you ask?  Let’s put it this way, I have yet to leave the store on one of these “free” days without $100 to $200 worth of goods.  I guess they saw me coming because those end caps as they are called, are just beckoning with all those shiny tools I never knew I needed but certainly couldn’t live without.

Into this very inviting space comes Jackson.  A typical trip to Home Depot will last upwards of two hours.  Now this makes his parents and Mimi quite happy as it allows them two uninterrupted hours to catch their breath, though that generally ends up being spent chasing our one year old granddaughter, Adela, around the house as she now has their undivided attention.  Meanwhile Jackson is wandering.  We must open, walk through, and close every entry door in the home exterior section.  This of course means that we must also explore, until satisfied, how each storm window opens, closes and locks.  Chalk up most of hour number one.

Hour number two finds us in the appliance and kitchen area.  It is at this point that I begin my wondering.  Jackson is most fascinated with refrigerators.  And what man, young or old, wouldn’t be?  Dish washers, clothes dryers, washers, merely utilitarian, but refrigerators, or fridges as we men call them, are works of art.  They used to just keep things cold, period.  Not anymore.  They are divided into zones of coldness because no one wants meat at the same temperature as their lettuce and that would be no where near the perfect temperature for milk and wine.  Yes I said wine.  But that is just the tip of the iceberg lettuce.  They have see through doors that light up at the Sheldon like three raps (reference Big Bang Theory).   And that door has a compartment within the door!  Believe me when I tell you Jackson marvels at that feature.  He tells me immediately that the “door in a door” invention is just for him and his supply of juice boxes, you know, the ones that squirt all over when you try to insert the straw.  Those boxes, but that’s another story for some other time.  I digress.

Had enough?  But wait, there’s more.  The really “cool” fridges have computers built in.  They will track your every move and then make your grocery list for you.  No more secret snacking after midnight guys.  That list is then sent to your cell phone.  Throw in a linked Alexa or Siri, and you have the beginnings of an appliance conspiracy.  I suspect they might even have their own Facebook page where they report on and laugh about their owners.  There’s probably a camera hidden in that door within the door.  Don’t believe me?  Search “my refrigerator” on your Facebook page and see if it agrees to accept your friend request.

After a thorough examination of every one of these refrigerators, Jackson tells me he is adding the one with the most impressive engineering to “his list”.  Now I am wondering just how serious is this list?  We move on to the stoves.  Not much time needed here, I suspect he likes eating the food more than preparing it.  I will let his Aunt Kat and Eli work on the development of that talent.  Within minutes, Jackson has decided on the grill top gas grill.  He is particularly fascinated with the push in and turn nobs.  We decide on the shiniest model and add it to his now growing list.  French style entry doors, crank out storm windows, a $5400 refrigerator with all the bells and whistles and a four burner grill top gas stove now adorn “the list”.

On to the cabinets.  And again guys, amazing innovations for you manly organizers out there.  In no time flat we are on a quest to verify which cabinets and cupboards are fitted with self-closing drawers.  Apparently it has come to the attention of kitchen designers that we are running out of our kitchens without remembering, or taking the time I guess, to shut the drawers and close the doors.  Jackson tells me that “his cabinets” MUST have these self-closers or they are not making “the list”.  We have almost isolated the winner when we discover two not to be without features.  Wait for it…….the ultimate in convenience and organization, the toe kick hidden flat pan drawer and the pull out, wire framed organizer, drop-down upper cabinet.  The entire innards float effortlessly down to the counter top where Jackson declares “there’s where my fruit snack packs go.”  And these, of course, have now been added to the list.

In the course of our two hour adventure, Jackson’s description, I have staved off several persistent floor sales reps, visited almost every section and aisle and if his parents fulfill his list, will have spent somewhere in the vicinity of $40,000 on Jackson’s house.  Way to go Home Depot.  We head for the front to escape and then head to McDonald’s to discuss the details of our finds and of course, to get our happy meal and toy.

And so I wonder?  Will Jackson become a designer?  Or maybe an engineer?  One of the store reps, after watching him carefully study the icemakers, suggested he consider being a plumber as they make so much more than engineers, her belief not necessarily mine and apologies to both careers.  Maybe he will write for a consumer magazine.  No matter what Jackson decides, I am amazed at watching the inquisitive mind of a four year old boy at work and humbled at his ability to figure out the technology and mechanics by simple observations.  I am sure that if we just encourage the curiosity of our children and grandchildren, the future is bright for a never ending evolution of new and creative conveniences.

And now it’s time to visit an electronics store.  Oh God.  Thank you Jackson for letting me wonder as you wandered.

Sugar Sandwich

Disclaimer, my siblings may each have their own memories of this story and that is okay.  Memories are just extractions of an event that occurred in the past and come back to us the way we remember them as well as the way we perceived them.  Because of this, each person will take a unique interpretation of the memory.  What follows is my own memory of this event and the significance it had for me.

I grew up in the farmhouse my parents and grandparents shared.  At the time this story took place, my grandfather was no longer alive and my grandmother was living in the upstairs of our farmhouse.  I and my two brothers were typical boys.  We tried to be good and most times we were kept so busy with farm chores, that we didn’t have a lot of time to get in much trouble.  But as boys will be boys, and no that is not an excuse, we would still find times to get in our share of trouble.

It would be at these times, exasperated by our behavior, that our mother would lay down the law and send us upstairs to our room.  I am not sure how this was really going to straighten us out but it seemed to be the law.

Upon arriving upstairs, grandma would take us aside and ask us what we had done this time?  Upon our confession, we would be given her sage advice on how we might have made a better choice had we thought about the consequences.  And then would come the sugar sandwich.  Grandma was always making homemade bread.  You know the kind, soft and chewy and warm enough to melt the butter she applied.  But grandma added an extra ingredient, a spoonful of sugar.


After her advice was taken and sorrys were said, the sugar sandwich treat was ours to devour.  We would then be sent back downstairs to repent our behaviour, tell mom we were sorry and promise never to err again, or at least not for the rest of that day.  We always thought mom didn’t know about the sugar sandwich and that if she ever found out, it may have changed our punishment routine.  In some ways I have always wondered why the whole process didn’t cause us to seek out the punishment just to get the sugar sandwich.  Truth of the matter was, that as good as those sandwiches were, the lecture from mom and the reinforcement from grandma were enough to make us want to behave better.

If there is a moral here, and there are multiple morals, it is that children aren’t raised by just the parent.  The more we share the responsibility of inspiring our children, the more rounded they become.  A pun involving the sugar here comes to mind but that is not the “rounded” I am referring to.  There is value in the sage wisdom of grandparents, relatives and friends that can teach children perspective and help develop their opinions and ethics.  My grandmother knew how to get us to listen to the lesson.  In some ways, the sugar sandwich reminded me that I could be forgiven if I was willing to accept my responsibility.

In the day to day ups and downs, we can all use the occasional sugar sandwich to let us know we are still okay and still loved.  Try giving someone you care about a sugar sandwich.  Who knows, they might even take your advice.

Sweet Adela…about time I write to you.

For the past three years my focus has been on Jackson.  That took a slight turn on March 14th, 2017.  You entered the world on Pi Day and I am having a hard time not nicknaming you Pi in honor of it.  Let me tell you, you wasted no time in arriving.  You were almost born in the hallways of the hospital.  Why do I suspect you will then be just as fast at everything from here on out.

You are an incredibly happy, incredibly patient and incredibly “give me a little face time here” sort of girl.  You have a smile that can melt my heart in an instant and you are constantly moving.  Nothing anywhere near your reach is safe and believe me we have learned that lesson far too many times already.

You are named after your great great aunt Adele.  The misspelling of your name is deliberate on your parents part as they do not want that heritage confused with the singer Adele who is quite a big deal right now.  Just ask Jackson about “Hello” sometime.  Your namesake was the keeper of the stories and the history of our family.  She never wanted to learn to drive but she rode a motorcycle for her 100th birthday.  She told stories right up to the time of her passing at age 101 though some of them will not be safely repeated much before your 18th birthday.  Adele was a feisty lady with all sorts of spirit.  I know you will live up to her reputation.

Adela, you are loved by everyone but no one more than Jackson.  He cannot let an hour go by without kissing your nose or your forehead and then giving you a squeeze or a hug.  He adores his little sister and is pledged to watch out for you always.  I suspect somewhere down the line you both will have your moments but for now it is all bliss.

Just a little over a month ago, you moved to your new home.  You were born a Madisonian but you are now a resident of Verona where I suspect you will spend most of your youth as you grow into the woman you are to become.

The Arch

We just returned from your first big adventure.  We took a road trip to St. Louis and you came along.  It was unbearably hot and humid but you were a trooper.  No fuss and plenty of smiles.  We saw an incredible museum that I am sure your daddy will want to take you back to for more adventures of your own.  We rode to the top of the Gateway Arch, 630 feet above the city, where you took in the sights from the carrier on your mommy’s chest.  But the big event was the eclipse.  Your Opa and Mimi waited 33 years to see the return of the eclipse and you have started your life in it’s repeat performance.  As we told Jackson, the moon swallowed the sun and for several minutes we were in darkness in the middle of the day.  We all put on special glasses, including you, and we watched the eclipse unfold.  I know you won’t remember this one but perhaps the next one in seven years.  We will retell this story over and over until you might actual feel like you do remember it.  Your great great aunt would be so proud of the story’s telling.  Through all of this, the driving, the sitting in the heat, the hiking to the site, you were a trooper. Never a whimper and never a fuss.




This is only the first of many stories yet to come, but it was time you had the beginnings of your story written down.  Know this, you and Jackson are both the focus of my attention now and you are both the love of my heart.  I can’t wait to watch you grow and I look forward to many more adventures to come.

I Was Childed

I am flattered when the cashier of a grocery store asks to see my ID for the “adult refreshments” I am buying.  Given my age and even my appearance, I really don’t look that young, they are either strictly following the rules or playing on my ego.  One way I accept willingly, the other I suck up just as it was intended.

This weekend I will be inviting my 3 year old grandson, Jackson, to go on an outing with me to the movies.  I am hoping “Cars 3” just came out or is at least still playing as I intend to end my dry streak of missing out on Disney and Pixar films.  I have decided it is time to return to my inner child.

But I have this question.  If they card you to be sure you are old enough to buy the adult beverages, do they have some sort of screening for going to a Disney flick?  Now I am not talking about Jackson, I am referencing me.  I am imagining this scenario.  I go to a Disney film alone and when attempting to purchase my ticket, the usher states “Sir, I will need to see your child.”  I will then reply that I don’t have a child and that I was just wanting to take in the show.  Things will escalate to the manager who will explain that these movies are for children and that without the proper child escort, I am going to need to leave the establishment.  And there it is, I have been successfully childed.

Hopefully you have humored me to this point and are not ready to question my sanity.  I just find it an interesting premise on the other end of the scale.  I am looking forward to taking Jackson to the movies with me but I know that I could attend alone.  I would stand out and I am sure there would be questioning stares, but I would deal with it for the shear pleasure of enjoying the wonderful world of cartoons and especially the peppered seasoning of innuendos.  But why go alone when I can take a child.  Especially my grandson.

And so I will ask Jackson to come with me and when they child me, I will proudly point to Jackson and say “I think this one should do nicely.”  And then Jackson and I will settle into our seats with a big tub of popcorn and enjoy the wonders that Disney will lay out.  He will laugh appropriately while I will snicker at the innuendos and hope I will not be asked to explain.  And for an hour or so I will be back in time, sitting with my two daughters at my side savoring the memories and drinking in the emotions they evoke.

So go ahead AMC, child me.  Jackson I are ready and excited to entertain our inner child…and maybe some popcorn.

Jackson at Three

You are three today and you are every bit the young lad I knew you could and would be.  In the past year you have become pretty sophisticated in so many ways.  You are starting to count and your ability to tell a story is getting more detailed every day.  And remember, storytelling is an important part of your Wundrow heritage.

This summer you went to Lake Tahoe and met many of your cousins for the first time.  While you were there, you taught them how to play “pool ball”.  They didn’t understand at first but by the end of the weekend they were in the swing of it.  I think you have a little bit of teacher in you too.

But all of this, as important as it was, pales compared to your new role.  You are now a big brother and you are proving every day how prepared you are for this new role.  Never has a little sister been watched over, cuddled, cared for and oh so loved as your Adela is by you.

You told me you had decided to call her “P” before she was even born.  When I asked you why, you explained it was for Pi.  Now having done this before she was born, how could you know she would come to us on Pi Day?  I guess when you are a brother, you just know these things about your sister.

I will look forward to the two of you growing up.  I hope that you will always take such good care of Adela and for that matter that you will treat all girls and eventually women with such respect.  Being a gentleman in this world has huge advantages.  Being respectful makes you a real man.  But more on that later.  We will need to talk again about this before you take your date to Homecoming.

You are three and ready to learn so much.  I for one hope to be part of those lessons and I hope that you will always be my buddy and come to me when you have those big questions.  You know, like “why is there air?” and “where did all the water in the ocean come from?”  I can’t always promise I will have the answer but I sure will enjoy exploring the possibilities.

Happy Birthday Jackson.  Know that you were always my first grandchild and that makes you just a little more special.

Stay curious.

So who will you be for Halloween?

Halloween, that one day holiday where we dress up and celebrate All Saint’s Eve.  The history of the holiday is a whole story of its own but that’s not what I am focused on this morning.  You see I just returned from our Sunday morning church service and having dressed up as everyone was asked to do, this revelation found its way home with me.

Our minister had posed this question “If you could dress up as someone, who would it be?”  He had chosen Batman and had explained why that had significance in the moment and for him personally.  You know, super hero, good guy.  His point was that we all are someone else behind the mask we wear.

There I was sitting in the pew, dressed as the picture above shows.  It dawned on me, that if I looked in the mirror, it would be my father’s reflection that I saw.  On further contemplation, I also dawned on me that it was a more subliminal choice of costume than I had realized.

My father was by many an account, a relatively quiet person.  He went about his business and quietly made his way in the world.  He raised six children, ran a dairy farm and held multiple odd jobs in government and labor.  Even though we probably had far less money than many we knew, we never felt poor or wanting.  All the while, my dad was a man of service.  Service in the positions he held, service to his farm community and service to his church.  The quiet man left a huge footprint.

It was fitting that I had without thinking about it donned the clothes he would have worn and in that moment of contemplation, I had come to realize more than ever before, how much of an impression he had on my life.  So many things that we do in life, so many mannerisms and characteristics can be traced back to someone who left their imprint on our life.  I believe that with that realization comes a better understanding of who we are and maybe even who we are meant to become.  We reveal the someone behind the mask.

My question for you this Halloween is who would you dress up as?  No matter who it is, take a little time to consider the significance of your choice.  Then, remove the mask and try to become that person. My hope for you is that your choice will be some super hero with super powers and that you will strive to use those powers to become a super you.

Happy Halloween and thanks for reading.

“Jackson Wants a Plane”

My two year old grandson is spending the week with us while his parents are enjoying  a well deserved vacation.  So that means I get to start doing what grandpas do best.  Yes, I will begin the spoiling routine.  For today’s effort, we will go to one of my favorite eating spots for breakfast.  The restaurant is The Jet Room.  For those of you whom have never experienced it, The Jet Room serves an incredible breakfast with a direct view of the airport and its runways.  Jackson is in for a treat.

Before we can even begin breakfast, we are treated to multiple small and medium sized private planes landing and taking off right before his saucer sized eyes.  Jackson, you see, has been enthralled with planes ever since the first time he was able to understand that a contrail was the evidence of an plane.  Now, surrounded by planes, he is pretty much distracted, and even his chocolate milk goes untouched.  It only takes a few more minutes and Jackson declares “Jackson wants a plane”.

I know what you are thinking but no, I didn’t go buy a plane or even a ride.  Even my spoiling vent would ever go that far, let alone my bank account. But his request stirred a different thought.  How far does one go in the effort to influence a child’s dream.

I raised two daughters and throughout their youthful exuberance, I watched them switch from one dream to another.  It seemed that every time they got to experience an “adventure”, they developed a new dream of what their future might hold.  I learned then to be supportive.  This often meant getting the necessary equipment or even perhaps enrolling them in a class or camp.  But I soon figured out that the danger lie in trying to create my dream rather than letting them evolve their own.  We can miss the point so easily.  The beauty of the exposure to different opportunities is that the child learns to dream.  If we become the “pushy” parent, we try to influence the dream.  There is no independence and as a result no ownership.  Without either of these two key ingredients, the child will never develop what is needed to possibly make their dream come true; a goal and the determination to reach for it.  We should be supportive but they need to be independent.  This is a difficult balance.

If you were thinking I was about to tell you how to find that balance, sorry.  The truth is that balance is something one finds on their own.  It is trial and error that must be experienced.  I will put it this way.  Today I could have bought Jackson a plane ride and spent the entire time telling him he could become a pilot one day, but that would be my dream.  I will admit that I had the “future pilot” t-shirt in my hand, but balance told me to put it away.  I had done my job.  I had given Jackson an adventure.  I must leave it to him to dream and maybe one day pursue some course that involves planes.  The truth of the matter is that he may just have had a day of fascination and nothing more will come of it.  But I am sure of one thing, Jackson will evolve his own dreams and one day, who knows, maybe the sky will be the limit.