Wind Down Time
The week at the cabin definitely threw off our sleep routine. It’s hard to get kids to go to bed before sunset, especially in a new place where most of your time is spent outdoors. There’s a connection to the natural cycle of the day that is hard to break, no matter how many blackout curtains you use.
After the first night back home, we quickly realized a change was needed. Bedtime did not go well; the kids were not ready for bed at the time that we were ready for them to be ready for bed. So, during dinner the next night, we came up with “Wind Down Time,” and began discussing how that might look. The idea was that we’d get ready for bed and then the kids could stay up late, so long as they kept to themselves and played quietly while the adults read, talked, or did some similarly boring activity. Dessert is the one time we can virtually guarantee the kids will be sitting still, and they were having ice cream, so we broached the topic then. To the one, we asked if they wanted to try Wind Down Time tonight, and they said, “Yes.” We looked to the other, asked the same thing, and they said, “I like to lick bowls.”
I guess during ice cream maybe isn’t the best time to capture a child’s undivided attention after all.
Beach Volleyball Brings Me Joy, No Matter My Age
I was lucky enough to get out in the sand for back to back beach volleyball days this week. And not just any sand, but the sand in the choicest volleyball courts in the Twin Cities – the courts at Bde Maka Ska. In my 20’s I had lived walking distance from these courts, and it was here that I transitioned from primarily playing indoor volleyball (which I’d done since age 15) to the beach. So, it was very rewarding to be back on my old stomping grounds.
Of course, these days my off-court setup does look a little different than it used to. The only way I could make the time to play one of these days is if I brought the kids with me. It took some extra preparation, but it was well worth it. Packing a cooler full of snacks and a wagon full of toys is a small price to pay to have your own personal cheering section with you wherever you go!
As more people showed up to play, I realized I was, for perhaps the first time in my life, the oldest guy at the courts. There were bunches of in-shape twenty-something’s playing on the courts next to us. When my friends and I finished our matches and were packing up our balls and lines, one particularly shredded dude came up to me and asked me how long I’d been playing volleyball. I surprised myself when I did the math and replied, “22 years.” The look on his face was priceless! He replied, “What, you started when you were 7 or sumthin’?” No, son. I’m old. “You don’t look old. You don’t play like you’re old.”
You hear that, world? This old man’s still got it, even with kids in tow!
CREATING SPACE FOR HONEST CONVERSATION ON A PONTOON FULL OF DUDES
One day this week, I joined my neighbor and his friends for an evening on a pontoon boat on Medicine Lake in Plymouth, MN. There’s one guy in this crew that I particularly enjoy, because he doesn’t shy away from conversations about real, important things in life and not just surface-level discussions about football or farts. And so I was talking to this guy about parenting, about what it’s like raising kids today, about goal-setting, and about dealing with all the challenges of trying to be a good dad, have a healthy relationship with your partner, and also trying to live your own life. He shared personal, sometimes painful details of his life, and I held space for the pain, and then would gently offer a follow up question to unpack it further. Toward the end of the discussion, he pulled a right turn and asked me, “Do you go to therapy? You’re using a lot of therapy speak.”
What’s most interesting to me about this comment is not that I do not go to therapy, but that I took his comment as a compliment. My initial reaction was a feeling of pride and gratitude for being secure enough with my own feelings that I was able to be a witness for someone else’s pain. It makes me wonder what I could do if I wasn’t a few pale ales deep on a pontoon full of dudes. I also realize that healing can happen anywhere, so long as I create the space for it.
Maximum fun takes planning. Lucky for me, I’m a planner. For years I’ve dreamed of putting together a day of outdoor games with my closest bros. This week, I finally made it happen. The idea stems from my father’s long-standing tradition of a Decathlon in the woods with his friends; he and his friends from school have, for the most part, kept this effort going over the span of several decades. I got to partake in that tradition one year when I was in college, and have since wanted to make that happen with my own circle.
It was a special thing, getting eight adult men, many with wives and kids, in the same place with the entire day open. We made the most of our freedom.
Of all the things we could have done (paying greens fees to golf on a pesticide-ridden landscape, paying admission for high-speed, fossil-fuel-burning go karts…), I set up the day to be at a park. Just eight dudes, some yard games, a few coolers, a couple balls, a speaker, and the great outdoors. That’s all we needed to have an epic day and create some memories that’ll last a lifetime. That’s what I’m most proud of with organizing this Bro Day – it’s not all the planning and coordinating that went into it, it’s that what we chose to do with our time was low cost, had minimal environmental impact, and fostered maximum fun.
Special thanks to all the ladies in our lives for enabling this epic day of good times to happen. Shoutout to Bronson Broer for making the bro-iest of Bro Day trophies!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the winner. Congratulations to my good friend Brian Dexter on being the ultimate bro in 2022!