I grew up with Nintendo’s and VCR’s. However, I dropped them in a second to be outside. I spent countless hours playing in my backyard. Every step was adventure, and every step dared me to explore past the chain link fence into the alley. As the days pass, my courage grew, and soon I extended my daily adventures. Soon the overgrown alley would become the trail down to the creek to catch crawdads. Then eventually it led to a forest.
Today, Bubba has his tablet for watching Netflix, his iPhone 10 for watching Netflix, and my phone, for watching Netflix. I know, it’s my fault, I’m the parent. However if I say the words “outside,” Bubba will literally drop whatever he’s holding, and the next words I will hear is “choes?”
Within seconds we are both outside. I follow Bubba’s little “choes” all the way back to the fence line. On the way he manages to pick up every little stick, rock, and leaf. He has a system. He picks them up, then throws. Picks up, then throws. Every now and then he turns and ask me if I want a stick, just by saying, “stik.”
Once we hit the fence line he grabs the chain link and stares at the exact overgrown alley where I once played. We then continue down the fence line picking up every stick, rock, and leaf in our way.
From my experience, a boy needs his father, and the outdoors. The special gift of exploring is ingrained in Bubba’s two year-old brain. I can’t teach him that, it’s something that a mindful and present father should pick-up on when raising a boy. In fact, the special gift of exploring never goes away. As we get older, the terrain expands and we begin exploring this world with tainted paragdigm’s. However we never truly leave behind the authentic root of exploring the backyard. If your lucky, you get to relive it with your son.
Jaime Valdes is in his 7th year in recovery from drugs and alcohol while live a daily life of sobriety. He currently works at a South Texas treatment center for substance use and mental disorder as a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor, intern. Jaime earned his Masters in Interpersonal Communication in 2019, and loves writing, melting silver, and most of all hanging out with his family.