Guest columnist Frank Cavallaro: Boys, Living Dangerously

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Frank Cavallaro, a long-time resident of East Meadow, Long Island, is father to three daughters, Laura, Jennifer and Kim , and two grandchildren, Olivia, 8, and Luke, 6. Schooled as a graphic designer, he worked at several advertising agencies but eventually went out on his own, adding copywriting to his list of services. Later in life, he entered the financial services business, where he eventually became a teacher for continuing education in that industry. After retirement, Frank resumed a childhood love of working with his hands. From that he started a business of making and fixing things for homeowners. This is his third guest column for letterstomykids.org.

Happy birthday, Luke, my dear grandson,

   By the time you can read this, you will know that I never had the pleasure of raising a son. Not that it wasn’t a pleasure raising three girls, because it was.

   But now that I see you, a boy of one year of age, all kinds of thoughts bounce around in my head, thoughts that just don’t go with girls.

   Don’t get me wrong: I had fun with my girls, one of them being your mother. And in some cases I don’t think I would have treated them any differently when they were growing up. (I sense I am doing the same with your big sister.)

   I came across this book a couple of weeks ago, The Dangerous Book For Boys, and the title immediately caught my attention: somehow “dangerous” and “boy” make for a very natural combination.

   On reading it, I realized that it contained many of the experiences I had as a boy. And now, looking back at my childhood, I realize how exciting it was. (Not the school part, the playing part).

   As a boy, I had a great sense of curiosity, and I still do. As a boy, there were many exciting things to keep me occupied, especially over a long summer, my favorite season.

   In this book, you will find many of the activities I loved. My friends and I spent hours playing chess, making paper airplanes and boats from scraps of wood. Playing with insects – especially ants and spiders — was always fun and sometimes scary, especially with a 10-cent magnifying glass.

   My mom and dad purchased an old Wonderland of Knowledge encyclopedia, and, even today, if you looked at the pages that I referred to when molding prehistoric dinosaurs, you would see green smudges from the clay that I used to make hundreds of models of those monsters.

   Astronomy was another fascinating subject for me. I remember playing with my first gyroscope, the mysteries uncovered by a microscope, the wonder of magnetism, and just making things out of discarded wood fruit boxes, where we salvaged the nails and refashioned those boxes into swords and rifles or other useful objects (useful to boys, not girls).

   My friends and I made first-aid kits from what we found in our medicine cabinets and carried them around just wishing that someone would cut themselves so we could come to their rescue.

   Drawing and painting were also very important to me. Cartoon characters were my favorite subjects, but I also drew boats and so many other things.

   I guess my early childhood was one of creating. Even when we played Monopoly, I made checkbooks for the other kids so that we could be more like big people.
Trust me, as a boy, you are going to be making discoveries to your own wonderment and amusement.

   Now that I am older, I realize I never grew out of that sense of excitement that comes with exploring and creating, and now that I have real tools, I can make more things even better, with the same sense of pleasure and satisfaction that I got over 60 years ago.

   So when you get old enough to read this book, I hope that you, too, will create and explore, getting to know the world and the wonders that surround you.

   The book mentions building a tree house. I never had a backyard with a tree to build one in, but someday, maybe you and I could make one together in your backyard.

With love,

Grandpa

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