Dear Jack: It’s Hard to Take a Normal Picture of You These Days

7 years, 7 months.

Dear Jack,

As I began looking through the more than a thousand pictures I took of our family’s recent trip to northern California, it didn’t take me long to notice a pattern: It was rare to see you just smiling normally in a photo.

Instead, the majority of the pictures show you making some kind of silly face.

Whether it’s a scary monster face, or an over-the-top smile, or just you simply photo-bombing someone else’s photo, you are all about being silly in photos.

Granted, I was able to get some normal pictures of you during our vacation. And that’s good enough for me.

I accept you, as you are, as a 7 and a half year-old boy. I want you to be able to express yourself that way.

So I accept that at this point in your life, you’ve had your picture taken enough to where it’s become a bit of a joke to you.

I don’t mind this. I completely realize that in a matter of about 5 years, I’ll be lucky to even get you to pose for a picture where you’re smiling- in any form. Because you’ll be in that teenage phrase where you are embarrassed by me.

This is actually something I’ve always wondered about: At what point will I no longer be able to include new photos of you in my letters to you? At what point can I no longer get away with including you in my blog?

I recognize that at some point, your need for privacy may override the fact that I love celebrating and documenting whatever is going on in your life each week.

So despite me having written about you at least once every week since Mommy and I knew you were going to be born, that may need to come to an end, some time in the future; or at least, maybe I’ll need to do it less frequently.

It’s very clear to me: Silly, happy pictures of you are much better than no pictures at all.

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Jack: You Lost Your Other Front Tooth This Week While Getting Your Teeth Brushed

7 and half years old.

Dear Jack,

You managed to accidentally lose yet another tooth this week; your other front tooth. This one came with the least anticipation. Tuesday night as I was putting you to bed you briefly mentioned that another tooth felt sort of wiggly.

My response was to tell you to leave it alone so it didn’t keep you up too late.

The next morning, as I was brushing your teeth, I kept this in mind. I was very careful not to even brush that one tooth.

But as I was pulling your toothbrush from the back of your upper teeth and attempted to pull it around to the other side, apparently I unknowingly barely grazed the edges of the bristles of your toothbrush against the edge of your lose tooth.

That’s all it took.

I saw your tooth hit the bathroom sink and fall into the stream of running water. It was like I had the ability to move very quickly as time passed by extra slowly, like Quicksilver of X-Men.

Amazingly, I was able to snatch your tooth up with my pointer finger and my thumb, on the first try, saving it from being washed down the drain.

If I had the chance to try it a second time, I probably wouldn’t have been successful. It was that moment in time I wasn’t prepared for, yet I still managed to accomplish the mission.

Minutes later, as I took a picture of you with your tooth, and also a close-up of your mouth, your sister assumed that she was supposed to pose as well.

So I got a picture of her pretending to show up her missing tooth, even though she’s still several years from even losing her first one.

As for you, I told you to take a break from losing anymore teeth for now.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Hitting and Hugging Your Brother “Jackie” Within a 5 Second Time Frame

2 years.

Dear Holly,

You are really having fun these days as you are learning the art of forming short, yet complete, sentences. Over this past week especially, I have noticed you are even finding a comfort level when communicating with your family.

So now, whenever you’re hanging out and playing with your brother Jack, you love to call him by his nickname you gave him: Jackie.

“You coming, Jackie?”

“Let’s go, Jackie!”

“Hold you, Jackie?”

By the way, “hold you” is one of my favorite things you say these days.

It’s of course the result of Mommy and me asking you, “Do you want me to hold you?”, when we see you are getting tired walking outside in the cul-de-sac or at a store.

So when you want Mommy or me or pick you up, you just say, “Hold you?”

Most recently, my favorite story about you and Jack playing happened this past weekend when Mommy was working on dinner and I was working on the dishes.

You and your brother were playing, when all of the sudden, you just approached him and slapped him in the chest, declaring, “No!”

He had done nothing to earn this. He was being nice to you. It was completely random that you did that. It was so random.

But immediately, before Mommy or I could address the issue, you looked up at Jack and asked, “Hold you?”

I guess it’s just proof of how well the two of you play together.

Because Jack wasn’t upset that you hit him for no reason, anyway. But then you immediately, and softly, asked him to “hold you”, which meant you wanted him to hug you, he gladly obliged.

The logic is just hilarious to me:

Approach your brother who is being kind to you, angrily slap him in the chest while shouting “No!, then immediately and meekly ask him for a hug.

I love watching you learn to communicate and interact with other human beings.

Love,

Daddy

 

When As Parents, You Decide to Keep Driving for 2 More Hours After Your Kid Makes a Poopy Diaper in the Back Seat

We were an hour into a 3 hour trek back to our home in Tennessee when my wife and I noticed the smell: Our 2 year-old daughter, who had finally just fallen asleep after desperately needing to, had also just “dropped a load” in her diaper.

My wife and I barely had a verbal discussion about our immediate, yet difficult, decision:

We were not going to pull over the car and wake her up to change her diaper. Instead, we were going to drive 2 more hours while having to experience a permeating barnyard odor.

In life, it’s important to choose your battles.

And as somewhat seasoned parents, as we also have a 7 year-old son who also had to be trapped in the car with us, we decided the battle of losing time on our trip back home and having to deal with getting an extremely tired little girl back to sleep just wasn’t worth it.

For two hours, we only breathed through our mouths; yet still our eyes watered.

It wasn’t worth even attempting conversation. Normally, my wife and I would appreciate being able to have a normal conversation without being interrupted by our kids.

Yeah, not worth it this time.

It was just about powering through.

We tried rolling the windows down a little bit, but then we were in danger of the noise waking our daughter up.

To make it up to our son who was sitting next to his sister, we bargained with him: If you don’t complain about the smell, you can keep playing DinoCraft on the Kindle.

Since he is accustomed to not being able to play his game for more than an hour each day, he took the deal.

We survived. We made it home. It was brutal.

But we are family. We do what it takes to move forward together.

Poopy diapers and all.

Dear Jack: You Taught Your Sister How “Make Juice” From Leftover Halloween Candy

7 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack,

I admit: I don’t exactly know what you and your sister are up to all the time.

Fortunately for me, she is now old enough to where you are able to entertain her while I get stuff done. So while I’m hurrying to sneak in unloading the dishwasher, or taking a shower, I just trust that whatever you’re “helping” Holly do is something I would approve of.

For example, one morning last week, I learned after that fact, that you had taught your sister how to “make juice” by mixing together old Halloween candy (yes, from nearly 6 months ago) with water and ice.

I showed up right as your lifted the mixing bowl and asked me, “Daddy, can you help me carry this over to the fridge? The juice that Holly and I just made needs to settle in the fridge while I’m at school today.”

That’s been several days ago now. I never heard how that project ended. I had speculated that you were going to want me, or your sister, to try the juice once it was ready.

However, I think what really happened was that Mommy discovered the bowl of “juice” while she was preparing dinner that evening, and the juice mysteriously disappeared… down the kitchen sink drain.

We may never know for sure.

But what I do know is, your sister definitely enjoyed the adventure in the kitchen. It takes the creativity of a 7 year-old brother sometimes for her to have fun like she should.

She took your activity seriously. In her mind, she learned a new skill.

In her mind, she learned that if you are in the mood to drink some juice but can’t find any, you can just make it yourself.

I have a feeling that had she had the chance to try the juice the two of you made, she wouldn’t have thought it was half bad.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: You Were Proudly in Disguise During the Easter Egg Hunt

7 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

Fortunately, you didn’t receive too much candy during the Easter egg hunt this past weekend. (I’m pretty sure we’ve still got leftover Halloween candy up in our pantry, actually.) The surprises inside the eggs this year at the egg hunt included a lot of Cracker Jack types of toys.

Honestly, I really don’t know what else you got at the egg hunt, other than a classic disguise kit:

Round glasses attached to thick eyebrows and a big nose.

You ended up wearing the disguise for the rest of the time after the actual egg hunt was over. You even wore it in the picture of you with Nonna and Papa and your cousins.

I guess I could have stopped you. But I didn’t.

You were having fun, so I let you.

One of my favorite parts about you wearing the disguise is that you didn’t acknowledge you were wearing it. You just acted like your normal self during the festivities, almost as if to test the theory:

Will anyone notice I’m wearing this disguise if I don’t talk about it?

It was like you were secretly playing a prank on our family; if not, everyone at the egg hunt.

I think the ironic twist in your social experiment was that no one really said anything because they just assumed, “Oh, that’s just Jack being Jack.”

Or even, “Oh, that’s Nick’s son. That makes sense.”

As for hunting eggs, sure; you still gave it your all. But as you’re now 7 years old, and as you’re finishing up 1st grade, I can see that you’re finding new ways to have fun; beyond just the obvious event.

And this totally reminds me of how I was as as boy, and really, how I still am.

So really, I guess it truly could be summed up as I said before:

“Oh, that’s Nick’s son. That makes sense.”

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Your Sister is Horrible at Doing Mazes

7 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack,

Last weekend we spend the morning with some friends for breakfast at First Watch. Fortunately, it was early enough in the day that you nor your sister had any kind of behavioral issues. Instead, the two of you were quite occupied, largely in part due to the kids’s activity sheet and the pack of crayons our waitress gave you.

During most of the wait for our food to arrive, I didn’t hear a word out of you. That’s because you were completely focused on completing all the activities in front of you.

After you completed the whole thing, you then turned to your sister to help show here what to do. She grabbed a crayon and immediately got to work on the corn maze; in which the goal is to draw a line from one end of the maze to the other.

Your sister was so happy to be at work, the way her older brother had been. A few minutes passed and then sort of turned to you for your approval.

What she received from you was this sincere statement:

“Holly, that’s horrible. You didn’t come anywhere close to getting through the maze!”

Being not even 2 years-old yet, she appeared to be completely unfazed by your overly direct criticism.

I laughed out loud.

She was just happy and oblivious that there was some sort of bigger concept, beyond just dragging a red crayon across some lines, as well as a picture of a mutant cob of corn and completely conscious fried egg.

Ultimately, the activity sheets perfectly served their purpose. You and your sister were able to behave in a restaurant, while being intellectually challenged at your own individual levels.

Give it a few years though, and I think your sister will be able to improve your maze skills.

Love,

Daddy