Dear Jack: Listening is Just Harder to Do When You’re a 1st Grader

6 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

Just a few weeks ago during Parent-Teacher Orientation, your teacher was very specific in reminding us parents that our child’s ability to listen to instructions at home will reflect how the child listens in the classroom.

Sure enough, I’ve been noticing since you’ve started 1st grade, it’s like it’s been fundamentally more challenging these days for you to listen to, and then follow, simple instructions.

“Jack, please don’t touch your sister while she’s trying to walk. Just give her space.”

Ten seconds later…

“Jack, I just got finished telling you not to touch her- and that’s the first thing you did. Now she fell down on the hardwood floor…”

Your response: “Oh, sorry! Sorry, Daddy. I forgot.”

I don’t blame for you for your impulses as an almost 7 year-old. I have to imagine that while the wiring in your brain has caused you to comprehend read and math skills like never before, the trade-off is that it’s difficult for you to follow through after hearing simple, specific instructions.

Yet still, I’m your parent. I have to hold you accountable. I have to teach and motivate you to listen to instructions the first time.

So let’s just say it’s never been more challenging for you to be able to watch or play anything on the Kindle. You have to earn that right on a daily basis.

Right now it’s especially difficult for you because you sincerely want to play with your sister and help her… but because she’s so quick to wobble as she’s still getting the hang of walking, your attempt to play and help often leads to her falling down; and in the process, it actually prohibits her being able to get practice.

You just want to help, I know.  You’ll eventually learn the right balance between helping her and knocking her down.

Until then, it’s just going to be a challenge as you learn to listen, as a 1st grader.




Dear Jack: Your 1st Soccer Game as a 1st Grader

6 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

Now that the summer has come to an end, so have violin lessons. And you decided you wanted to go straight into playing soccer now that the school year has begun.  It helps that you and your best friend Duncan, from your Kindergarten class last year, were able to get on the same soccer team.

So this past Saturday, our family drove out to the YMCA field in Spring Hill and watched you place your first game. It was amazing to see the difference, compared to when you played soccer 2 years ago in Pre-K.

You actually chase and kick the ball now! Wow!

And not just you, but all the other kids actually play the game too. Two years ago, it wasn’t this way at all. Back then, it was just a bunch of almost 5 year-olds standing on the field, looking at the feet in the grass.

But now, there’s actually something for your parents to watch you and your teammates do!

You actually gave Mommy and me a reason to keep yelling, “Go Jack! Kick it!” I felt like a legitimate soccer dad.

This was your sister Holly’s first time getting to see a soccer game. Since her skin is so fair, and since there was no shade, Mommy had me stand up and block the sun, casting a shadow on Holly as she watched the game from Mommy’s chair.

I definitely saw a little bit of irony in that; as if I were a big guy, which I am not. Oh well, the plan worked anyway. By the end of the game, your sister wasn’t quite as pink she would have been otherwise.

We enjoyed watching you play your first soccer game as a 1st grader.

Plus, I love the fact you’re getting to not only burn off all that energy you have on Saturday mornings, but also you’re getting to use your brain.

The game is pretty simple, though; for a bunch of 1st graders. Really, the main thing is just knowing which way to kick the ball. That’s all you really have to worry about right now.




Dear Jack: Today was Your 1st Day of 1st Grade and You Were More Than Prepared!

6 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

It was exactly 30 years ago in 1987 that I started 1st grade, with my spikey mullet haircut and my neon shorts and shoes. Meanwhile, you had much better style this morning as Mommy and I sent you off for your first day of 1st grade.

You literally just got back last night after spending 10 days with Nonna and Papa in Alabama. And the very next morning, it was time to start 1st grade. You didn’t even meet your teacher yet, though Mommy and I did earlier this week.

As you and I were in the car this morning, I attempted to help explain where your classroom is in the 1st grade hallway, but you stopped me, “Daddy, I already know where it is.”

And I thought, “But how? How could you know where to go and what to do and what to expect?”

It simply serves as another reminder that you are one confident little boy. I feel like most of my boyhood consisted of me not knowing what to do, no matter where I was or what was going on.

No. Not you.

Even when I dropped you off today, I hugged you and said a little prayer with you, then you smiled and waved. You then immediately joined the other kids in the class.

I sort of walked away backwards to make sure you weren’t looking back for another wave from me.


This doesn’t make me sad. This makes me proud.

I love the confidence you have. I have a feeling that years from now when you begin Junior High, it won’t be that awkward for you, the way it definitely was for me.

Here you’ve spent the past 10 days in a different state, then came back only to immediately begin a new school year.

You are one cool kid.