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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

My sons, the future systems integrators

One of the things I love about being a dad is watching my sons play. A mini-snowmageddon hit the Washington area this week, so we’ve been holed up together for two days and counting as school systems have shut down.

And this follows a three-day weekend where we went to the National Aquarium and the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore.

So, we’ve had a lot of time together. At this moment, my wife is playing the bad guy as my sons alternately use Hot Wheel tracks as guns or “stabbing things.” There’s lots of yelling and maniacal laughter.

I know there are all kinds of theories and advice about how your children keep you young, and I agree with them. It’s a real pleasure to see the world through their eyes and introduce them to new things. And of course, I get plenty of opportunities to be a big kid myself.

But it is how my boys – 5 and 3 – use their toys, and what they turn into toys, especially the older one, that I find fascinating.

Couch cushions and pillows alternately are slides, rafts, water falls or forts.

As you can imagine, we have plenty of store-bought toys as well. Yesterday, as the three-year–old napped, James took his cars, large building blocks, Lincoln logs and Magna-Tiles and created a walled village that had houses, police station, a fire station and a huge – by scale – parking lot full of vehicles.

When he got bored with that, he converted it into a garage with twin wood-burning fireplaces.

I was proud that he took such disparate toys and made them work together. He had a goal and looked at his available resources, made adjustments and built his village/garage.

He adapted. He improvised. He experimented.

Valuable skills for a five-year-old and, yes, for a federal contractor working in today’s market. (And journalists, too.)

Some people might call it “thinking outside the box” but more of us should look at the world with fresh eyes, and not be hemmed in by the conventional wisdom.

Perhaps by nurturing our inner child, it'll help us see new possibilities and solutions to the challenges we face.

And if we are really good and let daddy finish his work, we’ll get a nice piece of chocolate too.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jan 22, 2014 at 7:21 AM


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