A Bucket List for Dads
Kelly Flanagan is a Psychologist who lives in Chicago and writes a blog on relationships, marriage and parenting; drkellyflanagan.com. In one of his recent Post he reflects on a Smart Phone App that functions like a Countdown Clock. You merely enter the significant date your targeting and the Countdown begin. Dr. Flanagan is tracking the days remaining before his oldest child heads off to College. The experience has caused him to create a Dad’s Bucket List, before the clock runs out. Below is an excerpt from his list.
By August 20, 2022, there are a few things I want to do with my son:
- I want to pull him out of bed early to watch the sunrise. Over the ocean. Tell him he is as beautiful and brilliant as it is. And then I want to remind him, at the same time, that the world revolves around it, not around him.
- I want to stay up late stargazing together. Feel small with him. Tell him being small isn’t the same as being unimportant. I want to assure him he doesn’t have to change the world to matter—he only has to be himself.
- I want to, just once, not roll my eyes at another one of his Minecraft monologues. I want to sit down and let him teach me every detail of the game. For a whole afternoon.
- I want to go for a hike in the woods, find a break in the underbrush that looks like it might be a path, and go down it with him. Tell him the most interesting things he’ll do in life won’t happen on the path everyone else is walking. I want to tell him you have to get nicked up and scratched to feel like you’re really alive.
- I want to pay attention to every moment in which he is better than me—at chess, at music, at forgiveness, at And instead of it stirring up competitiveness in me, I want it to stir up joy. Every time I admire him, I want to tell him about it.
- I want to celebrate one of his failures. A big Like a public humiliation. Or a romantic rejection. I don’t want to tell him it will work out better next time—I want to tell him it might not, but he should try it again anyway. Throw a big party and let him know that having skin in the game means, sometimes, you get skinned up.
- I want to go out for dinner with him, not primarily to eat a meal, but to practice how to treat the waiter. We’ll look the waiter in the eye and we’ll call him by his name and we’ll tip him well, because I want my son to know everyone is worthy of the same attention I give him.
- I want him to hate me, at least once, because I cared about him enough to set a boundary he didn’t like.
- I want to send him to therapy. And when he comes home from an appointment and starts telling me what I’ve done wrong, I don’t want to be defensive; I want to be different.
- At least once, when he defies me because I was wrong and he was right, I want to grab his head in my hands, look him in the eye, and tell him to never lose his determination to start a ruckus if he believes the world needs the ruckus he wants to start.
And last but not least, on the night before he leaves for college, while he is out saying goodbye to his friends, I want to wait up for him and, while I’m waiting, I want to remember:
and the stars
and the trail-that-wasn’t-a-trail,
and the waiter’s face,
and the moment I held my ground,
and the moment he held his,
and his wonderful successes,
and his equally wonderful failures,
and the long black arms of a Minecraft Enderman.
In 2,711 days, my son is probably going to be leaving home. I know I’m being a little bit maudlin. But that’s okay. I’m going to err in the direction of sappiness, because it’s also the direction of happiness.
Is there someone in your life you want to get a little maudlin about?
Do you have a bucket list you’ve been waiting to make and to live?
Time is ticking.
Let’s not waste time or lose time as dads with daughters. Start a list this week however big or small and put a little time and energy into making it happen.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Don Worcester