Robert Urban smiled when his 9-year old son came home after a few days away and asked what life lessons he had missed. The author of one of this year's best Father's Day books, 101 Awesome Things To Do With Your Child & Other Musings of a Divorced Dad, Urban understands that each such moment reinforces twin goals. First, to impart lessons -- both fun and serious -- to help his son grow into a man his own way; and second, to be the best possible dad he can.
Urban knows a thing or two about growing up. He joined the Marine Corps the day after he graduated from high school and became one of the youngest serving Sergeants at the time at age 19. He served for eight years. He is the founder of both Paperboat Media (which he let his son name) and a survival school, both thriving enterprises in Orlando.
With Father's Day this Sunday, are you at a loss as to what to do with your kids? Teach your son to skip a rock. Teach your daughter to be financially responsible at a young age. To respect blue collar workers. Call your local fire department and ask to take a tour. Build a Rube Goldberg machine with your twins.
I asked Urban how he came up with 101 rich ideas.
"I kept a journal of what sounds exciting. Of what's important. Of what I'd like to see. Of what I'd like my son to remember years from now: 'Dad took me there.' Think of an important lesson and then figure out what fun activity can impart it. Or what serious heart-to-heart will help your child grow."
101 Awesome Things To Do With Your Child is leavened with wit that will make you roll, as well as far more serious musings. It is not a list or a handbook, but rather a welcome, unassuming guide that makes you think about parenting. Although Urban is divorced, he wrote the book for everyone.
"How do you raise a child?" he asked me. "You find time. You teach him cultural awareness. You get to know her friends and her friends' parents. Encourage hand-written letters. Wrap one another in tin foil and pretend to be robots. You do everything you can with them and then let them decide what they want to do with their life. The secret to raising a child is to be a great example. Your child will follow your example, not solely your advice."
Robert Urban's book is chock full of both fun and seriousness -- the stuff of growing up. Idea Number 101 said everything: Urban's son is a competitive swimmer. At meets he typically can't distinguish one voice from the others so Urban taught him the sign for "I love you" in sign language.
101 Awesome Things To Do With Your Child arrives at just the right time for Father's Day. It is a sure hit for any parent, and for plenty of lucky kids.