Dear Holly: Your 1st Week of 1st Grade

6 years, 3 months.

Dear Holly,

It’s official: You love first grade!

One of your best friends from your Kindergarten class just happens to be in your class this year too.

And despite not having your brother there with you at the same school, you are very confident in what you are doing.

A specific major change I see this year is that you don’t have your brother to boss you to the bus in time. So I have to pay attention to the clock now, to be sure you don’t miss the bus.

You are learning to become a little more independent and I am very proud of you!




Dear Holly: Orientation for Starting 1st Grade

6 years, 3 months.

Dear Holly,

Last night was a big deal for you.

We went to go meet your teacher for 1st grade. When she asked you if you are looking forward to the new school year, you were surprisingly honest.

With a smile, you told her, “I’m actually a little bit nervous about it.”

She responded, “You want to know a secret? I’m a little nervous too!”

Your brother confirmed that you actually have the best 1st grade teacher at your school.

And really, I think that’s the reason you’re nervous:

Because unlike last year, your brother won’t be at the same school as you; now that he’s starting Middle School.

But I know you will love 1st grade once it starts!



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!



Dear Jack: You Chose “Poop” as Your Theme for Dress Up Day at School… and Totally Got Away with It!

7 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack,

Last Friday your class unlocked a special day at school due to your collective good behavior. Your whole class got to participate in “Dress Up Day”, meaning you could have worn pajamas or a hat, or something a little out of the ordinary like that.

As I got you ready for the bus last Friday morning, I saw that on your own, you decided to adopt the theme of “poop” for your special day with your friends.

You pulled out your poop emoji hat from your closet, the one you bought from a street vendor; as a souvenir at the Monster Jam truck show in Nashville last year.

Then you found the “pooping moose” key chain I got you as a souvenir several years ago when GM flew me up to Detroit.

It was clear: You saw “Dress Up Day” as the perfect subtle opportunity to promote poop awareness at school.

Just like the week before when you took it upon yourself to craft a real cobra head necklace to wear to school, you had used your own creativity once again; and never needed to ask Mommy or me what you should wear for this special event.

As I hugged you goodbye right before you hopped on the bus, I thought to myself, “Is there a chance he’s going to be sent home for wearing this to school? Or best case scenario, will he have to take off the hat and necklace as soon as his teacher sees what he’s wearing?”

Fortunately, that was not the case at all.

When you got home that day from school, one of my first questions for you was, “So what did your teacher think of what you wore for Dress Up Day?”

You smiled and announced to me, “She told me she liked it.”

Okay, then. Well, that’s that.

You went to school wearing a poop emoji hat and a pooping moose necklace and it was no big deal.

Good for you. You’re a creative kid!




Dear Jack: You Finally Saved (and Spent) 100 Loot at Your School

7 years, 2 months.

Dear Jack,

I assume it’s the norm these days for elementary schools to have some sort of faux-money merit system for their students. You often come home from school saying, “I earned some loot today!”

Based on last year in Kindergarten, as you spent it pretty much the moment you earned it, I figured you were doing the same this year; immediately spending it on erasers or bouncy balls or something.

But when you came home from school this Tuesday, you immediately announced to Mommy and me:
“I’ve got 100 loot now!”

You went on to explain there is a stuffed animal you were going to spend it on at the school store the next day.

And that’s exactly what you did.

Apparently, it’s not so common for most of the students in your class to save up 100 or more loot. But you did it!

So things were extra special when you were able to show us your new prize, and then on the same day, Mommy happened to receive some Pokemon-themed gifts from a co-worker who recently traveled to Japan.

You made it sound like that blue dog was the most expense thing you cared about in the school store. Now that you have obtained it, and you still have a few more months left of 1st grade, I wonder what will be the tangible motivation for saving up more loot.

Of course, the fundamental psychological part of this story is not that you got earned a stuffed animal at your school.

Instead, it’s that at your school, you have done a consistently great job of behaving and getting your work done.

The blue dog reinforces that fact. The blue dog serves as a trophy for you being a good citizen in your class.

I am very proud of you.