Grace ‘n’ Tater’s Dad

That’s me, Grace ‘n’ Tater’s Dad, though most people still call me Matt. I think it’s one of the neatest transitions of adulthood: After years of struggling to find your own identity, suddenly your child’s four-year-old friend says, “Excuse me, Grace’s Dad. I need to go potty.” And there you have it. You’re no longer you’re own person, in the grand architecture of social identity, you have been rechristened. You are “Grace and Tater’s Dad.”

It is, of course, just the formalization of something you’ve known all along. For me, having kids has also meant a lot of looking back at my own childhood. Which experiences do I want to share with them? From which should I protect them? One of the best parts of my childhood was growing up in a rural community with nearly 200 acres of field and forest behind our house, and hundreds more across the street.

That land was our domain, and we neighborhood kids explored every inch of it. We built tree forts in the first line of trees. Later, there followed shelters in the woods, even one underground. A particular grove of sumac became my church for a season. We named every inch of the topography from the old Washboard (a particularly bumpy trail) to Mike’s racetrack, from the Hollow to the Tar Pit (a huge patch of roofing tar someone had dumped years before that still softened and oozed in the summer).

Becoming aware of how rare these kinds of experiences are becoming for children today, I am determined that my kids will buck the trend. They will grow up with a love and appreciation of the outdoors. And that’s what this site is about. It’s about my efforts to raise my kids outside.

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