In honor of Fathers Day this coming weekend, we wanted to interview Gerry, a single father of a great kid named Jim.
Gerry recently threw Jim a pretty stellar laser tag party through Laser Tag Source and it is definitely worth highlighting in this weeks post so prepare your self for some awesome father-son stories that will for sure make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Hi Gerry! How old is your boy?
Jim turned six years old at the end of December!
What a great age! So what inspired you to throw a laser tag themed birthday party?
Jim loves legos! In September, I came across a company who had a booth set up at a local Touch-A-Truck event. They specialized in birthday parties where they would come to your house and set up a lego party centered around anything you wanted. So it sounded really cool! For about a month and a half, Jim and I were set on the idea of having that be his birthday party. Well, I had met some of Kristina’s family in September as well, and as time went on, I learned of the Laser Tag Source company. I started corresponding with Kristina about doing a survey for the Laser Tag Source website. Between what I learned in our emails and looking at every word, picture, and page on the Laser Tag Source website, I became very interested in the idea of a laser tag birthday party. Now Jim loves legos, but he loves laser tag waaaaay more! There is a sports park near our house and one of his favorite things to do it to go there and play laser tag. So I talked to him about a laser tag party and then gave him a few days to decide if he wanted a lego party or a laser tag party. I didn’t even finish the question before he yelled “laser tag party!” But, I still waited a few days just to make sure, and his answer was still as emphatic. So that’s what we did!
That’s so cute. I just love hearing about how excited he was about it! How did he end up liking it?
He absolutely loved it!! He said it was the best birthday party he has ever had or been to! All the guns came several days prior to the event, so not only did we have time to play the day of the party, but of course he wanted to play the several days leading up to the party! We had so much fun! All of the kids that came really loved it as well! There were kids there between age 3-35 playing and everybody was having a blast! Many parents talked about how cool of an idea it was and asked for contact information for Laser Tag Source. He also really loved the setup. I kinda cheaped out and instead of renting LTS barriers, I collected cardboard boxes for a few weeks and then spray painted them for decoration and used those as barriers. I taught my son how to graffiti that day (hahaha) and he helped spray paint a good majority of the boxes! So he enjoyed every aspect of the party!
Love the creativity! I bet Jim really enjoyed helping you decorate. What advice do you have for single dads when it comes to birthday party-planning?
Know your child’s likes and dislikes very well. That can be your stepping stone for which direction you go for the kind of party you will have. Also, keep your child involved in the process. Jim loves legos with a passion! We originally thought that would be what his sixth birthday party was going to be. I could have not mentioned this laser tag party to him and stuck with the lego idea. There is no doubt in my mind that he would have very much enjoyed his lego party. But by having him involved in the process and giving him a choice, he got to have the party that he actually wanted, giving him an unforgettable and really great experience. Also, I personally think more of your focus should be on having a good party experience for your child instead of getting him a cool gift that he won’t play with after a couple months or maybe even weeks. I’m not saying have these big MTV Sweet Sixteen birthday parties where you’re spending thousands of dollars; however, I personally like putting more money and effort into Jim’s party experience over whatever gift I’m going to give him. And you don’t have to spend a lot of money either to have memorable experiences. I remember every single one of my birthday parties growing up (well, from as early as I have memories…). I remember the ones where my parents spent a lot of money for big elaborate go kart tracks, batting cages, and laser tag games just as well as I remember having POG tournaments (I’m showing my age…), playing HORSE in the backyard, or who can pop the most water balloons with a dart. I remember all of my birthday party experiences growing up. The only present I remember from any birthday party was when I got my Donatello dress up gear complete with shell, knee pads, elbow pads and my purple head band. But come on people, it was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! My point is, whether you spend a lot of money or a little bit of money, make it a memorable experience, because chances are, they will remember it and cherish those memories far more than whatever gift you get them (unless it’s anything Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)!
Okay, so I completely agree with you on trying to make the party memorable over the gift! I remember all of the parties I had as well. Great thinking on your part, Donatello Dad. Now on to the question: What’s your dream gift for Father’s Day?
I’m going to go ahead and sound very corny or cliche here and say anything that he makes. My parents always said that growing up, and I thought “yeah right, you’re just being nice so I don’t spend my allowance money on you”. No, I think they truly meant it. Because I truly meant it. The older I get, the less I care about stuff. Around my room right now, I see a canvas that he finger-painted for me with glow in the dark paint when he was 3. I see a framed picture (where he painted and designed the picture frame) of him and I together at a Richmond Kickers game. I see the card that my mom helped him make when he was 4 where it has a picture of him inside of it and he has a giant smile on his face and he is standing in my flip flops that are swallowing his little feet up and it says underneath “My hero! Nobody can ever fill your shoes!” and he has signed the card. I think of the paper on the fridge that he made at church with his handprint on it and coming from each finger is a quote from him giving a reason that he loves me. I think of how just over a week ago, he was sitting at his desk drawing pictures and practicing writing. He walked over to me with a piece of paper and said “Dad, I made this for you!” It was a piece of paper that simply said “I love you”. Nothing more. But that’s all I needed. Those are my dream gifts!
Wow, so many great gifts! Those are definitely items that you want to cherish forever. What advice do you have for dads raising boys?
I guess the biggest piece of advice I have is to just be as involved as you possibly can. My ex-wife and I share custody, and the way my work schedule works, I get him 3 1/2 days in a row, she gets him 5 1/2 days in a row, and that pattern continues forever. When parents split up, one parent becomes two parents. When I have him, I take him to whichever sports practice he is currently involved in, I take him to and from school, I pack his lunches, I help with homework, I chaperone school field trips, I do things at his school like show up as the mystery reader for the week or teach his class fire safety (since I’m a firefighter/paramedic) or teach his class about Guatemalan culture (since I go there twice a year for missions), I go on bike rides with him, I take him fishing or swimming at the lake, I take him on cool day trips, I read with him, I teach him things, we play video games together, we play board games together, we talk all the time where I know all about his life (what he likes, dislikes, his favorite things, what he’s been up to), I spend six hours cooking and decorating 128 cupcakes to make a gigantic pixelated Luigi for his party, and I even have awesome laser tag parties thank to Laser Tag Source (<– like the plug??). I’m involved. Do activities. Don’t just let your involvement be sitting mindlessly in front of the television. I do all these things because I love that boy with all my heart and I want to be involved in his life! Hug on your boys. Do whatever macho man stuff you want to with them, but hug on them, often. Tell them you love them, often. Tell them you’re proud of them, often. Your boy should never have any doubt the way you feel about him. Do these things and teach him love. Whether you are still with their mother, or in a new relationship, teach them the way men should be towards woman. Be that good example that teaches your son how to treat and respect a woman when he grows up and becomes involved in relationships. Christian fathers, do your Christian duty. Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way that he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Keep them in church. Try and get them involved in church activities. Talk with them about what they learned in church. Talk about God in your home so that He is known to your child. Jim and I spent about a year doing a Bible coloring book every night I had him. We get to learn a story from the Bible while reading together, than we colored the corresponding picture together. Be that good example for your child. Your child is watching and will follow what you do. And lastly, just be involved.
That is incredible advice. Your love for your son is so clear through both your actions and your words and it is a truly beautiful thing! Thank you so much Gerry for being so helpful in this interview and I hope that you have a wonderful fathers day with your Jim!
-Shae, Laser Tag Source Marketing Intern