Our house is littered with artifacts from the many phases of boyhood.

There's enough baseball equipment in the garage to outfit a whole Little League infield, although nobody under our roof has touched a bat in five years.

There are also enough motorized vehicles — go-carts, scooters, hoverboards — to stage a neighborhood Grand Prix. Good luck finding all the chargers.

Move upstairs to the boys' rooms and there are more shrines to our two sons' shifting interests. There are yellowing Boise State football posters (a fan phase), closets full of abandoned Lego sets and a box of old potholder looms.

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Mark Kennedy

The point is, in their combined 25 years of life, our sons, now ages 10 and 15, have cycled through wave after wave of hobbies and interests.

That's a rewarding part of fatherhood, watching your children experiment with stuff. Today's obsession is tomorrow's back-of-the-closet clutter.

Sometimes, I think adulthood would work better if we grown-ups were more experimental. Except with my flirtation with a banjo years ago, I can't think of the last time I tried to cultivate a new hobby.

The boys are actually a good case study in how, as people get older, our interests harden and we are less likely to try new things. For about three years, our older son has been infatuated with expensive air rifles, which he buys, sells, repairs and uses for elaborate Airsoft battles with other enthusiasts.

His room looks like a gun repair shop, with parts and tools strewn across a ping-pong table. The entire floor space would be covered too, if his mother and I didn't demand a periodic sweep of the floor space.

At 15, his hobbies move in a slow arc and can last years.

Our 10-year-old son, on the other hand, can cycle through a hobby in a week or two.

Last week, I wrote about his infatuation with fidget spinners, those little toys sweeping through middle and elementary schools. On Monday, he liquidated his inventory of spinners, selling 10 in the space of 48 hours and doubling his money.

Now he had moved on to magic.

He started by watching YouTube videos of card tricks. With only a couple of hours of practice, our son had developed a repertory of three card tricks, each a bit more challenging than the last.

He can have you cut the deck and correctly call the card on top. He can have you pick a card and then, through a series of stacking maneuvers, tell you what card you picked.

"How'd you do that!" I asked.

"Algorithms," he said.

"Oh," I said, pretending to understand.

The interesting thing about our 10-year-old's phases is how intense they are. When he was in the middle of his magic infatuation last weekend, he asked to go to Wal-Mart at 9 p.m. to buy a $16 magic trick set.

Not wanting to burst his bubble, his mother agreed to take him, and we have been entertained all week with cardboard illusions and Harry Houdini posters.

Having children at midlife was my most daring trick.

Now, every day feels like an abracadabra moment.

Contact Mark Kennedy at or 423-645-8937.