Ethan Berg is dad to two sons, ages 6 and 9. He’s an investment manager and owner of the Winthrop Estate (a retreat for families, events, and corporate weekends, among other things) in Lenox, Massachusetts. Disney Dads spoke with Ethan in his home over a cup of yerba mate. Within the decor of a classic modernist home were intricate Lego creations of all kinds, Nerf swords, and an elaborate array of advanced wooden building blocks. There is no television visible in their living space.
Sharing my passions with my kids
One of the things that has surprised me the most about being a dad is how satisfying it is, and how enjoyable it is. I always figured it would be an important responsibility, but I didn’t expect it to be so much fun. And in terms of “fun,” I feel really strongly that I want to identify shared passions I have with my sons. I don’t want to do activities together that either I’m pretending to be enjoying or vice versa. There’s been a lot of trial and error in this. But there are things we do together now that we all seriously get excited about and enjoy. Missile command is one. Watching Phinneas and Ferb. We watch it on Netflix. We ALL love that show. And Lasertag. Lasertag is so much fun for me and the boys.
Spending time with my family
Luckily, 90 percent of my work as an investment manager is reading and thinking, which I can do very early in the morning, during the day, or after the kids go to bed. The best part of it is we have a solid dinner together every night and spend a lot of time together as a family.
If I’m alone with the boys, our three go-to activities are scootering, bicycling, and swimming. Oh! And Red Sox or Celtics games!
My son’s favorite dinner
If I were fixing dinner, I’d probably make mole poblano with homemade tortillas. It’s not what most people would think of as normal kid fare, but there’s a story here: My mom grew up in Mexico City, so mole poblano was something we ate a lot when I was growing up. But that’s not exactly why I started making it for my kids.
My 9-year-old son takes Spanish at school, and they sometimes eat food from different regions. One day they ate mole, and he came home and told me he loved mole, like he had discovered something I didn’t know about. And I said (chuckling to myself), “Actually, I know a lot about making mole.”
We grow our own popcorn. The whole thing: we let the corn dry for about two months, then we shuck the kernels and cook them on the stove with olive oil and sea salt.
Our favorite snack
Popcorn is a big thing in our house. But we grow our own popcorn. The whole thing: we let the corn dry for about two months, then we shuck the kernels and cook them on the stove with olive oil and sea salt.
Biking 150 miles to Walt Disney World
A few weeks ago, we landed at Orlando International Airport and bicycled to Legoland with the ultimate destination being Walt Disney World. It was my idea: I’ve always loved long-distance cycling — I cycled from Seattle to Boston one summer — and so I was hopeful that my kids might enjoy it so that this could become one of those “shared passions” I was speaking of.
So I asked the boys if they could bike anywhere, where would it be. And they said to Legoland and Walt Disney World. So we went a roundabout way to get to Walt Disney World, because we had to be on small roads and off the main highways. It was 155 miles.
And as it turned out, the boys were really into it. My 6-year-old said it was like an amusement park ride with no wait. And, unlike pulling a kid in a bike trailer, being on a tandem bike is different: They’re really doing the cycling — they really matter. So they feel that sense of accomplishment right along with you.
It was so exciting as we got closer and closer to Walt Disney World, because you had all this Disney-specific signage, and that was exciting for the kids. They were especially looking forward to the Buzz Lightyear ride — that was on their minds through the whole ride. And they were looking forward to the Mexican Pavilion so that my older son could eat mole poblano. So finally this story has come back to the mole poblano.
See, when I was 15 or 16 years old, that was the first time I went to Walt Disney World, and I remember going to the Mexican Pavilion and eating — drum roll — mole poblano, which was MY favorite food. So on this trip, I called my mother from the Mexican pavilion to tell her that her grandson and I were eating mole poblano.
We’re thinking about a cross-country trip with the boys at some point, and perhaps we’ll make the destination Disneyland in California.
If I could do something different as a parent
I would have paid much more attention to them sleeping through the night in the first couple years. I didn’t realize until after the fact just how great it is to have a full night’s sleep. They could’ve adapted quickly, but we didn’t insist on it.
So, if I had to give advice to a new dad, I would say, “Get some sleep” . . . and I’d relish the absurdity.
You can find the Bergs at the Winthrop Estate, http://winthropestate.com/.