Dear Jack: Your Back-to-School, 2nd Grade Haircut (1 Inch on Top, #2 Guard on the Side, Down to #1 in the Back)

7 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

Last Friday you began 2nd grade with a half day of school. I hadn’t had a chance to get your hair cut beforehand, so you still had your grown-out summer mop hairstyle going on.

So I took you to the Great Clips, just a mile from our house, first thing on Saturday morning.

I could tell you were proud to get cleaned up. Though Mommy and I told you that your hair was long enough to change up your hairstyle into a bangs look, you expressed that’s the part of your hair that annoyed you the most: the hair getting in your eyes.

That’s what you had been telling me the past two weeks each morning, as I am the one who fixes your hair before school… and church… and anytime we leave the house.

I even offered to get you a buzz cut, but you weren’t that annoyed by the hair getting in your eyes.

So I guess that is your standard haircut now:

1 inch long on top; with a #2 guard on the sides, down to a #1 guard in the back.

This makes the 3rd time in a row we’ve gone to Great Clips and they simply cut your hair based on the notes in the computer from the time before- and you were perfectly happy with the results.

That’s the hairstyle  you like. And you know this. It’s part of your identity.

And then when your hair gets long enough that it’s in your eyes again, about a month or so later, that means it’s time for a new haircut.

It’s interesting to me that as a 2nd grade boy, you know what you do and do not like in a hairstyle for yourself:

Buzz cut? Nope, too short.

Bangs? No way, too annoying.

Long enough to sort of spike on top and very short on the sides and back?

Perfect.

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Holly: Yes, You Do Your Own Stunts!

2 years, 3 months.

Dear Holly,

After Nonna and Papa had spent the weekend at our house while Mommy and I went to see Kenny Chesney in Nashville and then painted the back porch the next day, it was time for them to head back Sunday afternoon.

So I announced to you, “Holly, it’s time to say goodbye to Nonna and Papa…”

You immediately ran over to them, smiled, then ran the other way- towards the sofa.

All weekend, you had been showing off your furniture climbing skills. As if to give them one more little talent show before they left, you climbed right up the arm of the couch, then rolled yourself over onto the cushion.

From there, you hopped down, ran towards Nonna and Papa, then continued to repeat the sofa climb.

After several cycles through, Papa finally grabbed you for the official goodbye hug.

Otherwise, I think you could have easily gone another 30 minutes through your self-imposed obstacle course in the living room.

It’s clear to me that right now, one of the things that is definitely a part of your identity is your fearlessness. You demonstrated this to Nonna and Papa all weekend.

If you could climb it, you did. If you could jump from it, you did.

And never once did you fall or get hurt. Papa even witnessed you teach yourself how to do a somersault, as you were running so fast across the living room floor that you stumbled, fell forward, then instinctively pushed yourself up after your legs had already flipped over your head.

I can’t help but think how this ends up translating to your interests and activities as you get a little older.

Gymnastics? Yeah, that’s a given.

But I’m even thinking indoor rock climbing. That may be the thing that’s actually challenging enough for you!

Love,

Daddy

I Bet It’s Difficult for My Co-Workers to Imagine I am Married and Have Kids!

I have caught on to a tradition in my office, since starting there over 3 months ago:

Every Friday afternoon, an “It’s almost the weekend!” email goes out to about 20 people in our department, to help motivate everyone through those last couple of hours. Typically, it’s something like a funny Internet meme or an office-themed comic strip.

Well, last Friday, it was… me.

It was a picture taken of me as I was returning from my lunch break.

Apparently I feel comfortable enough working there now that I have begun wearing Hawaiian shirts on Fridays; not because that’s an official thing we do in our office, but simply because I feel like wearing Jimmy Buffett style clothing when it’s that close to the weekend.

Hey, if it were up to me, I’d be wearing a Hawaiian shirt to work every day!

I’m not sure my wife would approve though; even if my co-workers encouraged such Dave Coulier behavior.

And this is actually something I’ve been thinking about, as one of my co-workers recently commented, “Nick, I wonder what your wife must be like? Is she normal? How does she handle being married to you?

My immediate response to her: “And don’t forget… I have two kids, as well! Imagine me being in charge of two young human beings!”

When you spend 40 hours a week working next to the same people 5 days a week, it can be easy to assume that version of them is the default. And to some degree, the “work version” of me does bleed over to the “family version” that my wife and kids know.

In both cases, I believe in being structured and focused, yet optimistic and creative.

But I bet it’s difficult for my co-workers to imagine I am married and have kids.

I think to some degree, even I’m confused:

How do I consistently co-exist on a daily basis, as different versions of myself?

The daytime version at my office versus the evening version with my family.

I wonder now, in reality, if there’s even much of a difference?

Dear Holly: You Wore a Poop Emoji Band-Aid On Your Forehead to Church, While Your Parents Never Questioned It

2 years, 3 months.

Dear Holly,

The funniest part of this story is that it wasn’t until Mommy was making dinner last Sunday evening, around 5:30, that I even bothered bringing it up:

“So Holly’s been wearing a poop emoji Band-Aid on her forehead since I woke up this morning. We went to church, and then went to the doughnut shop, and the rest of the afternoon has now passed. Up until this point we haven’t talked about it.”

Mommy’s answer was everything I knew it would be. It was the explanation I didn’t need, since I already knew the answer because I know you that well. It was the very reason I never mentioned it all day:

“Yeah, Holly saw that I bought new Band-Aids and she wanted one on her forehead- so I let her. It wasn’t worth the fight.”

Needless to say, you’re going through that “wears Band-Aids excessively and unnecessarily” stage.

Earlier last week, I came downstairs from vacuuming, and you had two on each arm and two on each leg. You looked up at me in an attempt to earn all my sympathy:

“Daddy, I got boo-boos!”

You were the equivalent of a cartoon kitten who went skateboarding for the first time.

To you right now, Band-Aids are a fashion accessory. But you are also able to understand that in order to somewhat justify wasting them, you have to write a loose narrative as to why you’ve earned the right to wear the Band-Aids.

But you know good and well I’ll immediately settle for, “Daddy, I got boo-boos!”

Like Mommy said, it’s just not worth the fight.

In your psychological and social development right now, this is important to you.

Not to mention, I can’t deny it’s giving me access to being able to take some pretty funny and eventually embarrassing pictures of you these days.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: You Start 2nd Grade in the Morning

7 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

Tomorrow morning, you will officially be a 2nd grader. I was just telling Mommy tonight how I pretty much remember the entire year of 2nd grade. It was the first year in school where I have more than just flashes of memories from it.

I remember that was the year I officially became obsessed with getting a Nintendo so I could try to save the princess on Super Mario Bros. I remember Nonna taking me to see the movie, Big, which was the first non-kids’ movie I ever saw in a theater. And I remember that was the first time I was in a school play: I was an earthworm.

You have an exciting year ahead of you, which will bring its own little milestones in your life.

Today was your last day of summer art camp. When I picked up and reminded your teacher why you wouldn’t be returning after today, I could tell how proud you were when I said, “Jack starts 2nd grade tomorrow!”

Earlier this week, we even got to meet your 2nd grade teacher… or I should say, teachers.

Your school is experimenting with a new curriculum this year in which you will have a homeroom teacher who takes care of math and science, but then for reading and social studies, you will go across the hall where a secondary teacher will handle those subjects.

When I started 2nd grade 30 years ago in 1988, we only swapped teachers for reading. And it wasn’t until 6th grade that switched teachers for more than one subject.

You are definitely ready and eager to start 2nd grade.You were proud too, that this will be your first year at your school where your classroom is up on the 2nd floor.

If you weren’t a big kid before, you definitely are now.

Love,

Daddy

How I Accidentally Retired as a Stay-at-Home Dad 3 Months Ago and Went Back to Work Full-Time… Finally, I’m Ready to Talk about It

It was exactly 6 months since I had accidentally become a stay-at-home dad. That’s when I got the unexpected (and overdue?!) phone call.

A recruiting firm in Jacksonville, Florida had discovered my resume on Career Builder and assured me that I was more than perfectly qualified for a Forbes Fortune 500 employer that was just down the street from where I had worked for nearly 12 years.

The irony is that I had applied to work for this company just 3 weeks after I became unemployed. But apparently, the timing wasn’t right when I was most ready to go back to work.

Instead, the timing was right after I had made “stay-at-home dad who works side-jobs online” part of my identity for 6 months.

By mid-April, I had already assumed I wouldn’t be returning to work in an office until perhaps my 2 year-old daughter started Kindergarten. That was because it only took a month after losing my job to realize that most of my income had been basically just cancelling our day care costs for both of our kids and covering most of the gas money it took for both my wife and I to commute to work in separate cars to different parts of Nashville. (My wife, who has her master’s degree, has been bringing in significantly more income than me for most of our 10 year marriage.)

In other words, being a stay-at-home dad actually made more sense anyway.

But in the likeness of the classic sitcom trope where the TV character has no interest in making a deal until they hear how much money that opportunity is surprisingly worth, I quickly changed my mind from “Thanks, but…” to “How much money did you just say?!”

It turns out, my 11 years working at the same company serving in roles of recruiting, HR, and retention made me quite marketable for the right company who was looking for someone with that kind of background.

The new job offer came with a 50% raise, compared to what I had been making where I had worked for the 11 years prior. Not to mention, the hours are much more flexible, so that I can get to home more than an hour sooner each day.

With all that being said, the pay increase of my new job matches the increase of the challenge level.

I have never used my brain at such a high-functioning level on such a consistent basis as I have since starting my new job in May. But I love the challenge of what I do!

So in the same way I found myself suddenly without a job after working at the same place for over a decade and had to reinvent my identity… just 6 months later, I was thrown back into the corporate world, but this time, in a much more advanced version.

It’s almost exactly like the beginning of Rambo: First Blood Part II. I feel like an action star of the 1980s who was called out of retirement for the sequel.

I am basically Rambo right now.

Photo by Mohamad Alaw.

Dear Jack: Hanging Out with Your Cousins in Alabama, While Mommy was in Canada

7 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

From last Friday to this past Tuesday, Mommy was in Vancouver; on a business trip in Canada. So after I got off work on Friday, I drove straight to your school and took you and your sister straight to Alabama; a trip that took precisely 2 hours and 18 minutes.

I left on Sunday afternoon, after a much needed nap for the 2nd day in a row.

As for you and your sister, the two of you got to experience a few days of Cousin Summer Camp!

This included making slime, shopping for a new toilet at Lowe’s, and running around in the gym during a family reunion.

It was a great way to bring your summer of 2018 to an end, as you will be starting 2nd grade in a few weeks.

Looking back, it’s been a pretty big summer, actually!

It started off by me finally going back to work after being a stay-at-home dad for 6 months. Then shortly after, our family got to travel through northern California for 2 weeks. And you even got to go to Art Camp.

And along the way, I have seen you and your sister become even closer, as her personality and social skills have development greatly over the course of this summer.

You have been very kind to share your stuffed animals with her. After all, you have the largest stuffed animals compared to any kid I know.

I’d say as far as summers go, you got your boyhood’s worth. And that’s not even mentioning earlier when you and Papa caught a snake!

I understand that it’s summers like these that will greatly form who you are. As your parent, I can feel confident in knowing that my kids didn’t have a boring summer.

If anything, you are probably due a long nice nap yourself, thanks to all the non-stop action this summer!

Love,

Daddy