Guest post from my friend, Eli Pacheco, over at Coach Daddy Blog.
They’re growing up with thumb swipes instead of mixtapes. They Facetime on their phones and have never had to wait for dial-up. Even Madison, in her ancient 20-somethings, used to squeeze the paw of stuffed animals because weren’t they allsupposed to talk?
I learned a few years ago I could captivate my kids’ attention – at least for a moment – by starting a story, when I was a kid …
I did dream of space-age watches I could talk into. Driver-less cars. The Denver Broncos winning Super Bowls (all so futuristic to a little boy.)
But I also feel bad for these kids and their friends.
Not just because – let’s face it – their oldies stations are going to suck. It’s because when computer game controllers advanced from joysticks and a single button to A/B + combinations to use turbo, it stole a little luster from the childhood experience. When MP3s replaced 45s, it robbed a bit of nostalgia.
Here’s my list of 10 things I did as a kid that I hope my girls – 20, 17 and 13 – will do too.
1. Be there for a friend
I used to pop the screen out of my bedroom window and play my saxophone at night. (No one threw shoes at me!) My neighborhood friends would sneak out and into my backyard, and I’d give them advice on everything from what sport to play to which girl to get rejected by.
I hope my girls can be the one their friends can turn to.
2. Create their own space
One kid has already moved into (and out of) her closet. I did the same, spending a Saturday afternoon wedging my headboard into my closet – and then wondering later where the hell I was going to put my clothes!
I hope my girls continue to put their signature to their rooms, soccer bags and lives.
3. Keep on cookin’
They make scrambled eggs better than I did! My preteen culinary mastery included grilled cheese sandwiches with a pat of butter between slices of cheese. I’m happy to say they’ve far exceeded my childhood abilities in the kitchen!
I hope my girls keep pushing the culinary envelope!
4. Make a mixtape – or get one
I still have mixtapes from girls – even if I have nothing to play them on! There’s something about a crush’s handwriting on a cassette that exudes the kind of love that makes sense the most in a teenage world. I wonder if my crushes still have the ones I made.
I hope someone will move my girls to want to collect just the right songs to give them.5. Invent games
There’s an app for that, and that’s a problem. When I didn’t have anyone to throw a football to (there just weren’t any kids my age in my grandma’s neighborhood – that’s all), I made up a game. I’d keep score with throws onto my grandma’s roof and catches (or misses) – and even provide commentary in my head!
Okay … girls, make up games. But if you choose not to share them on someone else’s blog, I feel ya.
6. Sneak into a concert
It’s not as easy in this post-terrorism world. I wanted to see Basia so badly when I was in college that I dashed through a door in the lobby near the end of the show when the usher turned the other way. I wound up center stage with my Polish diva singing to me (and holding my hand!) before making a twice-as-fast dash to the exit – and laughing all the way home!
Girls, if you do this, and get caught … just call dad, okay?
7. Go camping where you get no signal
My dad used to take my sister and me to Redfeather, Colo., a spot so remote that trees couldn’t survive on nearby mountaintops. We couldn’t find a single radio station – the back-then equivalent to not have cell-phone towers close today. We used to feel stellar jays right from our hands because they hadn’t seen people often enough to be scared of us!
Girls – let me be the one who takes you off the grid!
8. Go to a Mexican wedding
The food. The dancing. The energy.
We just need a cousin from the right side of the family to take the plunge! Trust me.
Girls, we will live it up. You’ll see.
9. Lean heavy on imagination
You already do, living as spies and rock stars and Barbie storylines a boy like me will never, EVER understand. You dream big about Olympic teams and college life and pizza places and burger joints in towns with tournaments. I’m right there with you.
Girls, you keep my mind supple and imagination fueled with you own.
10. Visit the Pacheco Ranch
It’s a place of pure magic, of horse-riding and hikes and rusty old cars and thunderstorms that rock the entire arroyo. It’s a place my dad’s dad built, with ceilings high enough for him (I get my lack of height from him!), acres vast enough to foster your wildest dreams but flat and close enough to see over. It’s a meager house that holds in it stories of grandparents I never got to meet, and a grandfather two of you never got to meet.
Girls, I promise, we’ll fuel up something, somehow, somewhere, and trek west to New Mexico.
There you have it. Ten things I did as a kid that I hope my kids will do too. What about you? What experiences have you had that you’d love for your kids to experience?
Here’s some pictures of Eli as a kid, his girls and a grown up Eli too!
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When he isn’t battling the blues or taking shots at fiction, Eli Pacheco is dad and soccer coach to three daughters. He details their adventures and the mind scraps such a life produces on a blog called Coach Daddy. You can follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, LinkedInand Pinterest.