building kid character
/ Nurture /

Building Kid Character in the Rain

Plan A

Take-the-day-completely-off-and-enjoy-full-Father-Son-day-over-Spring-Break was foiled by an onslaught of zero-notice meetings and several seemingly critical deadlines.  Despite the demands at work, I was bound and determined to hang out with Cooper (Age 6), for at least part of the day.  So, we jumped on our bikes at about 11AM for a bike ride to lunch.  Not the most exciting adventure we’ve planned, but Cooper had really gotten to be a strong little pedal-er, and lunch out is always a treat!  The sun was out, the air was cool, and our 3-mile route to the restaurant was clear and safe.

We had a great ride there… talking, observing, questioning, laughing.  Awesome.  Lunch was good… grilled chicken, fries and a lemonade for Cooper, cheeseburger and a salad for me.  We stepped outside for the ride home. The drizzle started.  Drizzle turned to rain and rain turned to torrential downpour accompanied by cold wind, lightning, and very dark skies.  Oh no!

Plan B

I wracked my brain for a good alternative to riding home…

  • Leave our bikes and Uber home. No, I hadn’t brought a lock and didn’t want to leave our wheels behind.
  • Call someone to come get us. Unfortunately, my Dad, who is ALWAYS ready to help us out, was committed to a different cause.
  • Wait it out. Not possible. I was already playing hooky between calls and needed to be in front of my computer to host the next meeting.

So–we pedaled.  Hard.  With our heads down and the rain soaking us to the core. Almost no talking, other than my instructions to avoid cars or puddles, and nearly no observing, laughing, or questioning . . . except for in my own mind as I observed the lightning, questioned what the hell I was doing, and laughed that my Father of the Year contender status was vanishing so fast!  I also thought about how my wife, Jill, was going to react to my questionable decision making.  Placing her babies in peril is not usually looked upon favorably…

We made it, no issues.

Cooper jumped in a hot shower and I toweled off just in time to start my call.  We laughed about it at dinner and exchanged our proud glances as Jill shot a different flavor of glance my way over the tacos.  It was a good adventure.

But here’s the thing, Cooper and I learned three character-building lessons that day from our ride:

Cooper’s Perspective

My Perspective

Big Lesson #1

I can do what I tell myself I can do.  Complaining won’t get me home, but a lot of grit and a little encouragement from Dad can make things happen!  Attitude matters. Kids are resilient and should be pushed a bit to accomplish hard things that they don’t know they can (or want) to do.  Secondary Lesson, reinforced significantly by my wife . . . the push doesn’t necessarily need to come in the middle of a thunderstorm ever again!

Big Lesson #2

Tired legs, heavy breathing, and cold hands are temporary (and cured with a hot shower), but memories will last a long time. Experiences generate memories.  Keep creating adventures that we can be proud of accomplishing . . . together.  Hopefully we’ll talk about them (together) for years to come!  Thank goodness I played hooky for a bit that day.

Big Lesson #3

Dad loves me. Cooper trusts me.


My boys are just getting started on their life journeys.  Priorities will ebb and flow.  Perspective will evolve.  I hope the things that my wife and I are doing today, either consciously or ass-backwards and by the grace of God, help to foster the character traits necessary to keep them headed down the path of healthy, productive, happy, selfless lives.

Hey Coop, the clouds are rolling in and I think I just heard thunder, want to take a quick bike ride?