Life Lessons From My Vacationing Three-Year-Old Daughter

CBUS Dads dad blogger Steve Michalovich's daughter on Hilton Head Island beach.

Last week, my family took a vacation to Hilton Head Island. I realized on the long car ride home, that the carefree enthusiasm my daughter – who turns three today – displayed with everything she approached on the trip provided some tangible life lessons we should all strive to live by:

Less is more

Everyday we’d foolishly lug a bag full of toys and balls to the beach, only to see her use just a bucket and little shovel. Too many possessions weigh us down and keep us from focusing on what’s truly important in that moment – in her case, that was spending countless hours building sandcastles.

Live it up

Hanging on the beach, hitting the pool, going out to dinner, taking a bike ride, nap time – whatever it was we said we were doing, she not only took it in stride, but she leaned in hard. Vacations are meant for fun and a simpler life, and her enthusiasm toward all that we did reflected that tenfold.

Go until you drop

At home, my daughter still requires an afternoon nap and a reasonable bedtime. On vacation, she would go until we told her it was time to not go anymore. When it was finally time for bed, she crashed hard, but sleep took a distant backseat to her priority of experiencing everything vacation had to offer.

Go with the flow

Anyone with toddlers knows, most simple requests, activities and tasks aren’t easy anymore. “Why” and “no” are words that entered her lexicon in full force this year and are used more frequently than we’d prefer. Vacation seemed to lift any friction, as she was content with whatever we were doing. I’d like to think simply being with her family was enough for her.

Be friendly

You would’ve thought she was the Hilton Head Island Welcoming Committee at times throughout our trip. Studies show that simply saying “hi” to people can make you a happier person. If this is the case, I am raising one happy kid, because she was not shy from introducing herself and initiating conversation with other vacationers.

Bonus from my son: play with the big kids

My  nearly one-year-old son is obviously a little less active and mobile than my daughter, but that didn’t stop him from trying to keep up with her at all times. I’m proud of the way he pushed himself to try to do the things she did (i.e., crawling into the ocean) and kept up with our vacation schedule (i.e., all day on the beach, out for dinner, going to bed much later than usual).

Author’s note: I reserve the right to edit/add/delete from this list following any subsequent family vacations, in anticipation of less smooth, enjoyable voyages, especially during any potentially moody teenage years.

-By Steve Michalovich, Regular Contributor

Swim Lessons at Goldfish Swim School – Part Three: The Little Things

Ribbons CBUS Dads dad blogger Steve Michalovich's daughter earned through three months of swim lessons at Goldfish Swim School in Westerville.

The following article is a result of a partnership between CBUS Dads and Goldfish Swim School.

For the last three months, Mondays have been a day I look forward to. My daughter and I have spent those Monday evenings at Goldfish Swim School in Westerville.

The experience has been tremendous on all fronts. My daughter – who will turn three at the end of this month – has grown immensely as a swimmer as a result of her lessons. I already can’t wait to enroll my son – who will turn one next month – in the very near future.

I’ve shared my perspective on the experience, both in the water and everything that happens before and after a lesson.

As we break for the summer and look to put her learnings to the test at the community pool and at the beach during family vacation, I wanted to sum up our experience by listing all of the subtle details that comprise the incredible experience with Goldfish Swim School.

I’ve mentioned it before, but it starts with the staff. Everyone was amazing, but special shoutout to my daughter’s two primary instructors: Lauren and Sidney. Even when my daughter had advanced beyond their classes, she always had to say hello to them, because they made such a strong connection with her.

As a marketing professional, I appreciate good communication, and Goldfish makes this a priority. The website and emails are user-friendly and well organized. Moreover, I was impressed by the personal touch they prioritized when they called me the day of a lesson to let me know a different instructor would be filling in. Not necessary by any means, but much appreciated.

The literal warmth of the facility can’t be overstated. They make it incredibly comfortable for the kids and the parents who are getting wet – at the expense of a hefty utility bill I’m sure.

The kids all seem to be comfortable in the water, and I’d imagine this is attributed to the attention each is given. The instructor-to-student ratio is amazing. Once she was in classes where I wasn’t in the pool, there was never more than four students in a class.

Goldfish also makes scheduling a breeze. You pay for the month, and within that month, get four classes. If you know you’ll miss one of your scheduled lessons, they make it extraordinarily easy to reschedule to a different class throughout the week. We had to do this a couple of times.

The instructors truly make the kids feel like they’re accomplishing something. After a sensational lesson, the kids receive ribbons. She was always really proud of her achievements and couldn’t wait to share them with Mommy when we got home.

It’s little things like ribbons that have made this experience special and have extended it beyond our time in the water. I thank Goldfish Swim School for a fun three months.

-By Steve Michalovich, Regular Contributor

A Father’s Guide to the Columbus Arts Festival

I grew up at the Columbus Arts Festival. It has always been just one weekend of the year, but it stands out to me like any holiday or annual tradition. My father is an exceptionally talented artist. His art took him around the world, introduced him to celebrities, kept food on our table, and provided my siblings and me with braces.

However, I never saw much of that work. What I did see, (from the back of his art booth) was him being a rockstar once a year. Fellow artists, collectors from across the country and friends from long ago would stop by the booth to see what he created in the 52 weeks since they saw him last. They would tell old stories, crack new jokes, trade art, and make a lot of money (a concept that was very foreign to me at that time).

I, unfortunately, did not inherit his visual art skills the way my siblings did, but I did develop a lifelong affinity for the community, diverse passions showcased and the event as a whole. Now that I am a father, it brings me great joy to share this experience with my son from the other side of the booth. Here are a few of my tips to getting the most out of the experience for both you and your family.

Use alternative transportation. This will not be an easy option for all, but even if you are coming from outside the loop, consider parking a little ways out and grabbing a pedicab, car2go or Hopper Cart for a grand entrance to the festivities. For those of us who live closer, you can bike (Pelotonia has a bike corral this year) or take the COTA. My son loves buses. He loves to see them, he loves to sing about them, he loves to tell me how fast they are going, but mostly he just wants to ride the BUS!!

Bring friends and family. The best way to experience this festival is with children. It is a good way to strengthen relationship skills between children and their community by introducing them to people they are comfortable with in different environments. We take his Aunt Lindsay (LaLa) each year and give them a little alone time to pick out a piece of local art for his room.

Get your kid a drink. Preferably in a fancy cup, a coconut or something. It is amazing how children can associate mixed senses with memories at events like this. My personal suggestion is to get a big lemon shake-up and just request that they use A LOT less sugar.

Order off the kids menu. This festival has done a great job over the last few years in bringing in some great local food options. I am a fan of the food trucks but I am biased. If the lines are not long ask for a kids menu, they will not have one, but they will have fun making up options for you. If you go to Tortilla, order the “CBUS Dads Special.”

Dance! They have a special stage for it, but most importantly just dance!

Befriend a local artist. This is one of my favorite parts, I like eccentric, interesting people and this festival is full of them. My personal artist of the year is Andrew Lundberg in the Big Local Art Tent. If Franklinton is our renaissance district, he is our Michelangelo, partly because he can build/paint anything beautifully, and partly because he is a party dude (Cowabunga!)

Enjoy the activity village. You and your kin can screenprint shirts, beta-test video games, learn musical instruments, design an art tote, design jewelry, build a sandcastle, and so much more! (I’m especially excited to check out the catapult painting with Grayson this year!)

Listen to the music of the people in the city. GCAC is one of the greatest supporters of art anywhere. If you like the music at Independents’ Day and that we pay our artists, you have GCAC to thank. Thus, it is no surprise that they have not held back building this year’s lineup. Grayson will be on my shoulders with his bright blue headphones on a lot this weekend.

Breath and enjoy the experience. Just load up a bag with a clean outfit, a few toys, lots of water, tasty snacks, and let the festival be your guide.

This (as well as all of my blogs) has been edited by the lovely Miss Ashley Baker for co-parent consent, grammar, and to make sure my dad jokes are only kinda dumb.

-By Wolf Starr, Regular Contributor