Come summer, dads get to shine. The grass and dirt and sunshine and bugs of summer tend to show off their talent for exploring weird things. The way many dads see it, you don’t really need a lot of toys or expensive toys to have fun. All you really need is a shovel and a bucket, a lot of sand and a few blocks of wood. Dads can make the things that creep and crawl so VERY fun for a kid. You’d have to be a pretty exceptional mom to love bugs. But dads seem to be just fine with most of them. This presents an opportunity for play that has nothing to do with parents’ abilities to buy the latest toy.
We don’t have many June bugs here in Colorado. They tend to live where there is more humidity; where they can bump around and bang into the screen door, and buzz by your ears at sunset. We don’t have many lightening bugs either; they like humidity too. When we lived in Brookfield, Wisconsin, we encouraged our kids to go on June bugs hunts, but they preferred the lightening bugs. Their blinking, iridescent light, made summer evenings a thrill for my kids. With their dad, they would run around the yard with their glass jars in one hand, covers at the ready in the other, attempting to trap enough lightening bugs with the glowing tummies to light their tree house. What fun dad could make on a summer night.
Just because we don’t have many of these critters in Colorado doesn’t mean that a dad can’t create some summer fun. Although I admit that miller moths aren’t nearly as much fun, they do get caught in windows next to screens, they hid in curtains and under pillows and under patio furniture covers. Think of the great game a dad could make with his kids, playing hide and seek for miller moths… “finding every single one before Mommy comes out to the patio!” A fishing trip can be extended into a two-part adventure by the hunt for the earth worms to put on the hooks (laving the hook-thing to dad, of course.)
We do have a lot of ants in Colorado. Once you know for sure that your kids won’t eat the ants (or the sand) think about the activities dad could lead. An ant colony between the concrete sections of your driveway could take up an entire afternoon with a kid. This is dad’s territory. Watching them run around, counting them, moving some of them to a make-shift ant colony (which of course would remain outside), figuring out what roles the ants each have…when the kids get bored with the ants, dad and kids can move on to the sand box, where the shovel, the bucket and the blocks offer hours of road-building, bridge-building and sandcastle building. What could be more dad-like than an opportunities to bond in the dirt?
This fun has nothing to do with your ability to buy the latest toy,it has to do with imagination. As long as your washing machine is working, you’ve got the best of all possible toys…time with daddy, playing at make-believe.