Thirty is an interesting age. It puts you half way between toilet papering someone's house and yelling at the kids to get off your lawn. Half way between baggy jeans, and pants up to your nipples.
The best part about being 30 is that I can officially stop pretending to care, or even understand, all things "teenager." I can accept the fact that every time I attempt to write a text message I look as nimble and dexterous as the Stay Puff Marshmallow man trying to pick up a penny. I can accept the fact that every time I touch an Xbox controller, some ten year old kid eating Twizzlers in his mom's basement is going to beat me. You know what? That is okay; because today, I am officially grown up.
All your life you are asked this one ominous question: what are you going to be when you grow up? Well here I am all grown up. I have a wife, a house, a mortgage, a retirement plan, a career, an education and children. So, so many children. So what am I?
I am the sum of my experiences. I am someone who has repelled Australian-style down the side of a cliff. I am someone who speaks two languages and can impersonate virtually every character on Sesame Street. I am someone who has stood on the heights of the Great Wall of China and the depths of the Cambodian Killing Fields. I am someone who has ridden down the slope of the Andean mountains in a Colombian-jungle bus driven by a 14-year old kid. I am someone who has carried a coffin and rocked a cradle. I am someone who has fallen madly in love with a woman and helped bring three (soon to be five) children into this world. I am someone who has cried tears of pain and fear, but mostly joy. Above all, I am someone who every time I come home at night hears three scampering voices shout the best word in the English language, "Daddy!"
Recently, my oldest son turned six and this has been as much an epiphany for me as my turning 30. My children are finally getting to the point in their lives where they will start having the experiences that will form the building blocks of their future identity. As their father, I feel it is important that they have as many beneficial experiences as possible.
Which got me thinking, what are the experiences each person should have before they grow up? We have bucket lists of things to do before you die, so I think it is time we started a Lunchbox list: things to do before you grow up. For example:
Run a lemonade stand selling .25 cent cups of sweet delicious capitalism
Sleep outside on a trampoline
Catch a lizard and/or frog then beg your mother to let you keep it
Eat ice cream until you throw up. Then eat some more.
Spend a warm summer evening playing tag with a wet sock.
Get grounded for doing something your parents are secretly proud of
Toilet paper your neighbors yard
Catch your parents praying together
Speak in front of a large crowd
Hike into the woods for no reason
Read a whole novel in one sitting
Take apart a household appliance just to see how it works
Dig a hole just to for the sake of digging
This is just the start to what I hope becomes a great little parenting tool. Don't know what to do on a Saturday afternoon? Pull out the Lunchbox List. If you have any suggestions for what you think every kid should do before he grows up, I would love to hear it.