Dear Jack: I’ve Been Writing You Letters Every Week for Over 10 Years, But You’re Not Even 10 Years Old Yet…

9 years, 7 months.

Dear Jack,

It was May 2010 that I decided to start writing you at least one letter every week, to serve as a thumbnail of what was going on in your life that week, or at least what was going on in my head as your dad that week.

I should point out that in May 2010, you weren’t born yet. Instead, that was the month that Mommy and I found out we were going to be having a baby.

You weren’t born until November. So for over a decade, I have been creating and growing this collection of journal entries to document each week of your life.

I have told you about it. You are aware I do this.

But later, when you are older, I think you will truly be able to appreciate having an archive of your own life, written by your dad.




Dear Holly: Mommy Painted Your Nails for the 1st Time

2 years, 9 months.

Dear Holly,

All last week, you kept asking Mommy: “We paint my fingers and my toes this weekend?”

There was much anticipation for this event.

So Sunday afternoon, before you and your brother watched a movie with Mommy, she took you to the bathroom floor where she carefully painted each of your fingernails and toenails.

Needless to say, you were so proud to have Mommy do this for you.

I wasn’t surprised at all when I dropped you off at school on Monday and the first thing you did when you saw your teacher, Mrs. Kim, was to display your fingers and proclaim:

“Look! Mommy painted my nails!”

Yeah, you are such a little girl.



Dear Holly: You are Officially Learning to Crawl

7 months.

Dear Holly: You are Officially Learning to Crawl

Dear Holly,

I have to remind myself that babies don’t just start crawling all at once. Instead, there is a subtle process leading up to it. And I’d have to say, you’re clearly in it right now.

It was like the moment you were able to start sitting up on your own was the moment you realized that you had the necessary basic skills to start teaching yourself to crawl.

The hardwood floor in the kitchen works pretty well for you, as compared to the carpet in the living room.

Mommy and I were seeing you go through the motions of crawling… without actually moving. You wanted it so bad. After our past couple of visits to Alabama when you saw your Cousin Darla crawling, you’ve set a goal to be able to join her.

Dear Holly: You are Officially Learning to Crawl

And you’re now showing some actual movement.

Over the weekend, Mommy motivated you by placing her phone a few feet away from you. Then I did the same thing with an empty bag of Bear Naked Granola Bites. You love squeezing empty, noisy bags. It is quite the authentic motivation for you.

I realize that you’ll be keeping me that much more on my toes once you’re able to crawl around, but I really won’t mind. This past week, I’ve really appreciated the fact I’ve been able to help Mommy prepare and clean up dinner.

Up until now, it’s been necessary for me to sit on the floor with you. Now that you can sit up, you enjoy having “activity time” on the floor.

I’m not rushing you growing up, but I definitely celebrate you accomplishing new things.

It’s like you are able to reason that the next big thing in life for you is being able to crawl. It’s like I can tell you want to do this not only for yourself, but also Mommy and me.



Dear Holly: You are Officially Learning to Crawl

Dear Jack: You were Chosen as the 1st “Student of the Month” by Your Kindergarten Teacher (Despite My Parenting Style)

5 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack: You were Chosen as the 1st “Student of the Month” by Your Kindergarten Teacher (Despite My Parenting Style)

Dear Jack,

Mommy and I are proud of you anyway, but last Thursday, you came home from school and told us that your teacher chose you are the 1st boy “Student of the Month”.

That means your teacher saw something quite special about you and the girl in your class who were picked; based on you diligently doing your school work, participating in class, and being a positive influence on your friends.

At just 3 weeks into the school year, you had set enough of an impression on your teacher as the stand-out boy in class. Seriously, that’s a big deal!

Selfishly for me, it’s a confirmation for me that despite my imperfections as a parent in raising you, you’re still an intelligent, involved, and well-behaved little boy.

I have to admit that as your parent, you are technically a human experiment to me. You’re my first born. I will by default make more mistakes on you than your baby sister, who is nearly 5 and a half years younger.

Dear Jack: You were Chosen as the 1st “Student of the Month” by Your Kindergarten Teacher (Despite My Parenting Style)

When you were born, I was a much less experienced 29 year-old guy. Now, I’m a 35 year-old dad who has much more confidence as a parent.

It’s so important to me as your dad that I mold you into a well-balanced boy, and ultimately, a well-balanced young man.

Dear Jack: You were Chosen as the 1st “Student of the Month” by Your Kindergarten Teacher (Despite My Parenting Style)

This past weekend your Papa, Uncle Andrew, and I spent two mornings putting together the new trampoline Nonna bought for you and your Cousin Calla when you visit.

Finally, the time had come to try it out.

You and I played rough for a solid 20 minutes or so before I finally wore you out. I caused “earthquakes” (by jumping hard right next to where you were standing), I wrestled you, and I let you ride me like a bull.

That’s how I like to raise you. I like to show you unexpected adventure. I want you to be wild and crazy. I want you to be dangerous with me, yet hopefully not get injured too badly in the process. I want you to be… a boy.

And then I want you to return to school the next day and convince your teacher that you are still the best behaved and most involved boy in class.

So far, my plan is working.



Dear Holly: The Convenient Double-Standard for Average, Involved Dads

19 weeks.

Dear Holly: The Convenient Double-Standard for Good Dads

Dear Holly,

Last Friday I took off of work since your daycare was closed. While most of my day was spent changing your diapers, feeding you, and playing with you, we did get out of the house when we not only dropped off your brother Jack at school, but later went back to eat lunch with him there at the school cafeteria.

You had a wet diaper as we arrived at his school about 15 minutes early. I didn’t care enough to find the proper place to change you, as I didn’t want to tote your car seat and my book bag (with your diapers) with me, so I just changed  you right there on the bench I was sitting on; which was sort of hidden by the staircase above me.

Afterwards, I stood you up in my lap to face the oncoming students, teachers, and room moms. Of course they all made a point to smile back at you and tell me how beautiful you are.

A few minutes later, we saw your brother Jack leading the line. While carrying you, the car seat, and the book bag, I attempted to follow him in to help him get his lunch.

Mommy usually makes his lunch, but on Fridays, he buys the school lunch, because he can get vegetarian pizza that day. Unfortunately, they had just ran out of pizza and gave him a pork sandwich instead by the time I caught up to him.

Miraculously, his class’s room mom appeared and helped us negotiate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead; even though you had already paid for the pork sandwich.

We ended up sitting with the room mom and her daughter. She commented that she had seen me sort of struggling there with you as I had to find a place to change your diaper.

As we left after lunch, other moms and teachers bragged on me for simply showing up; even if my attempt was a bit awkward and unskilled.

That’s when I began to process to convenient double standard of the good dad:

I simply get praise and credit for just doing my job. Whereas for moms, they are simply expected to do those things.

Granted, the trade-off is that dads and husbands have been historically portrayed as idiots on commercials and sitcoms.

Maybe the ultimately irony is that less is expected of us dads because of the way we’ve been negatively portrayed in media, so that when we are caught “being a good dad”, it makes it seem that much more special, which it totally isn’t.