‌Thing number one on my parenting bucket list is to get my 20-month-old son, Rafael, outside as often as possible.

Being outside was a regular part of my childhood. There wasn’t much reason to stay inside. The TV played boring, endless soap operas while my mother mopped the floor. Sure I had Barbie and her hair and wardrobe to play with, but that was saved for when it was too late or intemperate to be outdoors. Outside, we usually made up a game that was a variation of hide and go seek. The most popular was the superhero version. Each person would choose which superhero she/he was, then we’d do lots of running and chasing, and finally come inside exhausted and excited about playing some more the next day.

Being outside was more than just fun. It was exciting. We could make up whatever scenario we wanted, and they were real to us in the moment. Life could be whatever we wanted it to be. I want Rafael to experience this as well. So far, he’s found his balance on a fallen tree trunk, looked for winter forest treasures, and sipped blueberry tea from a baby mug. Each time I could see in his face that he was lost in the moment, absorbing the realization that life is fun.

Next on my parenting bucket list is sending Rafael to the best school for him. I find that most traditional schools focus on preparing children to sit in a cube all day long in a corporate office, to be able to collaborate, and be a “team player”. All this is fine. Except it’s not what I want for Rafael. I want him to go to a school where learning happens in real life, through play, exploring outdoors, being able to investigate further when something truly sparks his interest. School makes up the majority of a child’s life. It should be exciting and real and not about memorization and standardized tests.

I also want to travel with Rafael so he can see the world outside of where we live. I want to teach him to be unafraid in a world where the bad news in every corner of the world is broadcast all the time. I want to teach him to focus on the positive and the good, because what you focus on will expand.

All the things on my bucket list are to ensure the most important thing: that every day of his life is his happiest day yet.

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