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Summertime doesn’t have to be boring

August 1, 2016

The joy of fatherhood: Helpful tips for fathers and men who want to become fathers

by Morris Turner III

The young men on the left and right are members of the King Charles Unicycle Troupe, started in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1964 and signed as the first African American act of Ringling Bros. Circus in 1969. With them, left to right, are Morris’s grandkids, Marcelo, 4, Isaiah, 6, his wife, known as Mima to the kids, and finally Amaya, 3.

The young men on the left and right are members of the King Charles Unicycle Troupe, started in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1964 and signed as the first African American act of Ringling Bros. Circus in 1969. With them, left to right, are Morris’s grandkids, Marcelo, 4, Isaiah, 6, his wife, known as Mima to the kids, and finally Amaya, 3.

Summer has come and is nearly gone. Before we know it, school will be starting and what have you done with your children? Kids are always talking about how bored they are, so let’s mix it up a bit and get them exposed to some fun activities, mostly free and out of house, when possible.

As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, the most valuable thing you have to offer your children is your time. In picking an activity, don’t worry about how fancy or exciting it is, only that it is an opportunity to spend quality time together. As old Oakland Raider coach John Madden says, “Don’t worry about the mule being blind, just load the wagon.”

Here are some things I did with my children and now often do with my grand-kids. Let me know if you have other outings and ideas that I might share in the future.

1) Visit a farmer’s market. What vegetables can the kids name and what new ones can they learn about? Maybe, buy some and cook them together with the kids for dinner.

2) Go to a park and have a picnic lunch. If you’re adventurous, have the kids help you make it.

3) Visit historic landmarks in your city. You may discover that there are more than you expected.

4) Grab a ball and just play catch. Maybe talk about what it was like when you were a child or share memories of family members who have passed on. Listen closely to your child’s questions and comments.

5) Get some cardboard and make a fort or playhouse.

6) Go fishing off a pier in Oakland or San Francisco. Enjoy the sounds compared to those of your home environment.

7) Buy some seeds and plant them in an old milk carton.

8) Visit your local library often – walking if possible.

9) Visit a recycling center so that they can see where trash goes and how recycling can help the planet.

10) Go see the King Charles Troupe at the Ringling Bros. Circus. They’re an African American unicycle team formed in 1964 and signed professionally in 1969. See what one person can do to change the world. The circus may be a little expensive but an experience that will never be forgotten.

Building memories with your children is a rare opportunity. It costs you nothing but a little time and is the greatest investment you can ever make.

Morris Turner, the father of two sons, ages 39 and 43, was a community worker with the Black Panther Party. Over the past 45 years he has worked with children and young people in a variety of settings, including as preschool teacher, career counselor, family mentor and sports coach. He is also an author and recognized researcher in the area of African American settlement in the United States, but his greatest pleasure today is learning to be a good grandpa. He can be reached at missnpages@comcast.net.

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