Dear Jack: For the 2nd Year in a Row Now, You Received the Certificate of Excellence in Mathematics Award

7 years, 6 months.

A year ago for the 2016-2017 school year, out of all the other students in your class, your teacher chose you for the Certificate of Excellence in Mathematics Award. And a year later, as you finished up 1st grade, you won the same award again; this time for the 2017-2018 school year!

I find this quite impressive. Only one student per class can win this award- and you’ve won it both times since you’ve been in school.

Yeah, this is amazing, actually.

It’s interesting because my brain doesn’t work that way. I am horrible at math. I got my college degree in English, by default; as doing so required the least number of math courses possible.

I am so happy for you. You have so much potential. You have many options for a career.

Something I’ve mentioned over the past couple of years is my understanding that I have a very smart boy for a son. I realize I am responsible for guiding you in this talent you have.

I am totally aware that the next decade ahead will determine your decisions for college; as well as your career goals. I take this very seriously.

At the same time, I also place a high value on you getting to be a kid. It’s important to me that you have a well-balanced childhood.

It’s that perfect mix of doing your best in your academics as well as your social development.

As your father, I am responsible for help training a future man. I’m taking all that my own dad taught me, and combining it with what I’ve additionally learned from my own manhood so far.

And from there, I add all that information on top of your own interests and talents, to build on top of your own identity.

My son, the math whiz. I am so proud.

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Jack: Slumber Party at Your Cousins’ House!

7 years, 6 months. 

Dear Jack,

During your first week of summer vacation, which you spent in Alabama at Nonna and Papa’s, you asked your Aunt Dana if you could spend the night at her house one night.

Not only did you get to hang out with your two cousins, but you were specifically excited about getting to sleep on the floor. You saw it as a “slumber party”.

And because a storm was coming through the Friday night that Mommy and I were planning to pick you up, we weren’t able to arrive from Tennessee until the next morning.

So for your final extra night, you chose to stay with your cousins again and sleep on the floor.

I think it’s great that you’re getting to the age where you think it’s fun to spend the night with your aunt and uncle and cousins.

It’s good for your growing sense of independence. I think to some degree, it actually challenges you, as you have to adjust to a slightly different family culture; as each individual family has their own, though the differences may not be noticeable from the outside looking in.

After all, I wasn’t there with my many rules. Hopefully you didn’t keep everyone in the house up too late.

So you were proud to sleep on the floor, among pink kittens and unicorns.

Now I am wondering at what point your sister will be old enough to join in on the “Cousins’ Slumber Party”. I’m sure that would be a lot of fun! As long as I’m not there, with all my many Daddy rules, of course!

Because if I were in charge, it would be, “Okay, light’s out at 8:00. Don’t get up for anything. Just go straight to sleep!”

It’s obvious I’m reflecting my constant need for sleep onto you.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Being the Youngest of the Cousins, You Just Have to Go Along With Whatever’s Going On!

2 years, 1 month.

Dear Holly,

After your brother spent his first week of summer vacation in Alabama with Nonna and Papa, you rode back with Mommy and me to go pick your brother up, as we spent Memorial Day weekend there.

Once reunited with your brother and your two cousins on my side of the family, the four of you quickly formulated into your own version of The Little Rascals.

It’s funny because often when this happens, as long as there’s another adult somewhere near you, I’m okay with just learning in hindsight the ways you had fun.

So when I saw this picture of your steering Papa’s homemade racecar, while your brother and older cousins rode along, I simply thought to myself, “Yep, that sounds about right!”

Out of the four of you, your brother is the oldest and the only boy, and therefore, the boss. And you are the youngest, and therefore, the littlest rascal.

As you all grow up, these dynamics will remain the same. It’s quite similar to the way that a child’s birth order among their siblings typically helps have a major role in shaping their own personality.

But to reinforce this concept further for both you and your brother, your “birth order” among the cousins remains the same; whether as my own children or among your cousins.

You will always be the baby. Your brother will always be the oldest.

I can already see how you have a sense of fearlessness because of your role: You’ve already been able to see three other kids who are older than you test some limits out first.

From there, you get to build on top of their experiences.

So while you are the baby, you are also brave.

Even just the way you are able to scarf down salt and vinegar potato chips without flinching is probably proof of this.

Love,

Daddy

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: You’re Missing Your Brother This Week While He’s in Alabama

2 years, 1 months.

Dear Holly,

With your brother finishing 1st grade last week, Mommy and I decided it would be a nice change of pace for him to spend this week at Nonna and Papa’s house. It’s only been a few days now, but you’ve made it very clear you miss him.

You ask me each morning, “Where’s Jackie?”

However, it didn’t take long for you to jump up in his bed and play with his toys in his room. It was your way of not only showing you were thinking about him, but that you might as well take advantage of the situation if wasn’t there to stop you.

For me, it’s a strange concept to just have one child in our house this week.

It’s a glimpse of what life could have been like had you been born first, instead of your brother. In particular, it reminds me that your brother had 5 and a half years as an only child, before you were born.

This week serves as one of the few times in your life where you’ve known what it was like to be an only child. You’re used to being the younger, baby sister. That’s how your brother sees you and treats you; so to a large degree, you adopt that title as your identity.

Granted, the two of you will always be in different stages of childhood; so you’re never really having to compete in the same way that siblings who are closer in age might experience.

In a way, both you and your brother get to be an “only child” to some degree.

In just a few days though, you’ll be reunited with Jackie. I can see you don’t quite feel complete without him. I imagine it’s difficult to feel like a little baby sister when your older brother isn’t right there next to you.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Your Pet Millipede That Miraculously (and Secretly) Survived a Week Somewhere Inside Our House

7 and a half years old!

Dear Jack,

Something I enjoy about writing these letters to you each week is that it’s my way of preserving memories of you at whatever age you are at the time. As of this week, you are now 7 and a half years old. I feel this story perfectly illustrates who you are right now, as a 7 and a half year-old boy in his last week of 1st grade.

As the school year is coming to a close, your teacher has been doing some extra special, extra fun things for your class. For example, she let you bring home (and keep) the class pet:

A millipede.

Nonna and Papa just happened to be in town that weekend. You loved showing off your millipede friend to them.

But then, the next today, Mommy shared this as her status update on Facebook:

The pet millipede escaped. #enoughsaid

That’s because the millipede amazingly escaped through the “breathing hole” that you punched into the plastic wrap covering the Rice Krispies bowl. This meant your pet was able to crawl upside-down along the plastic in order to escape.

I assured Mommy that if your pet millipede was smart enough to escape your homemade aquarium, it would be smart enough to find its way out of our house.

Fortunately, I was partially right, because a week later, Mommy shared this update:

Millipede update– he was found!! Alive and well 6 days after his disappearance. He was spotted hanging out by the front door, so we let him free and we bid him a nice farewell with some cilantro and celery leaves  So glad I never stepped on him 

When I say sometimes how you are a well-balanced kid, this is what I mean.

You’re a smart kid. You’re a well behaved kid.

And you love playing with bugs.

Perfect for a 7 and a half year-old boy, if you ask me!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Now I Finally Believe That Little Girls Really Do Instinctively Love Tea Parties

2 years.

Dear Holly,

Until now, I always thought the idea of little girls wanting to play “tea party” was just a concept invented by toy marketers to sell more product. And for all I know, perhaps it is. But if so, hey… it works!

Because for your 2nd birthday last month, our good friends Lena and Mohamad got you a tea set, and not only did you immediately want to play with it, but you instinctively knew what to do with it!

In fact, having our tea parties together has become a bit of a ritual. Your tea party set is getting a lot of use!

I will say though, for me, you change it from tea to coffee. That’s because for the past 6 months, with me working from home, you have observed me making my organic instant coffee twice a day.

Whenever you think it’s getting near the right time of the day for it, you always ask, “Daddy, coffee?”

My favorite story so far with this tea set was a few weeks ago when I was finishing up cleaning the bathroom upstairs, as part of my weekend routine. I had been up there for a solid 15 minutes.

Then you stood at the bottom of the stairs, and announced to me, “Daddy, coffee!”

Mommy helped explain that you had just made coffee downstairs for me and you wanted me to come down and take a break.

So I gladly did.

It was one of those precious moments that I just wasn’t expecting.

In your mind, you thought, “Daddy’s been up there a while. I bet he’d like some coffee right about now. I’ll go ahead and make him some…”

You are such a sweet little girl. How can I not be completely in love with my little sweetie?

Love,

Daddy