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!

Love,

Daddy

 

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Dear Holly: I Think You’re Going to Be My Little Wild Child

1 year, 11 months.

Dear Holly,

I am convincing myself that you will not go through The Terrible Two’s. Your brother didn’t. So I want to believe the same can be true for you.

With that being said, your personality is noticeably different than your brother’s was at this age.

For example, it nearly takes Mommy and me both to physically get you dressed in the mornings now, as you’ve made it abundantly clear you believe wearing clothes is a waste of time. You recently crafted a new trick where you ask to go potty, simply so you can get undressed and then run around the house:

“Potty? Potty? Potty?

And like I mentioned last week, during Spring Break at Nonna and Papa’s house, you found a way to climb out of the crib, twice; as a protest to taking your daily afternoon nap. And then when Nonna asked you how you got out of the crib by yourself, you just simply replied, “I climb.”

Your brother has never been shy, but you show a certain fearlessness at such a young age that he didn’t show. There was at least a reluctance he’s shown. As for you, not so much.

And I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that Mommy and I are raising you differently than your brother, by default; since we were first time parents with him.

Raising you, we as the parents are a bit more fearless, as we have an idea of how things generally work now in the world of parenting.

I suppose it doesn’t help that since becoming a stay-at-home dad 6 months ago, you’ve had extra exposure to my exclusive masculine parenting style; alongside having an older brother who I often have to remind to not play so rough with you.

So while I’m confident you’ll never be a tom girl, I am quickly getting the feeling you’re going to be a feisty little girl who knows what she wants; while still charming me with your adorable little smile.

But hey, I’m up for the challenge.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Your 2nd Easter Egg Hunt, But Your 1st One Where You Could Actually Hunt for Eggs

1 years, 11 months.

Dear Holly,

A year ago at the Easter egg hunt, you weren’t able to run around or really understand the concept of looking for eggs hidden in the lawn.

But this year was much different!

Not only did you understand it, but you were great at it. I was amazed how full your basket became- and so quickly.

I must say, you looked extra cute, as Mommy found some pink floppy bunny ears for you to wear. To our amazement, you never tried to take them off the entire time.

You’re at a stage now where you simply love any excuse to run around for the sake of running around. At the home where the annual Easter egg hunt takes place, they have one of the largest front lawns I have ever seen.

So it was the perfect place, after all the eggs were found, for you to run as far as you could. You never got tired the whole time.

By looking back at the pictures of you from last year at this same event, it’s obvious to me how much you have transformed from a little baby into a little girl.

We’re now in the month of April, which is your birthday month! (And mine, too.)

So in just a couple more weeks, you’ll be turning 2 years old.

Here recently, I have been feeling like I already have a 2 year-old daughter. With the way you love moving around, and trying out new words, and attempting to sing songs, and refusing to let me get you dressed in the morning… yeah, you’re really forming your little girl personality.

Oh! And you climbed out of the crib while we were staying at Nonna and Papa’s for Easter! When Nonna asked you how you got out of the crib, you instantly admitted to her:

“I climb.”

Yeah, you’re forming a little girl personality, aren’t you?

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: You are Now Self-Identifying as Linus from Peanuts

7 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

Being the son of a daddy blogger/social media influencer, you’re just used to us getting free stuff. Sometimes, we sort of forget about some of the things we are sent from companies. For example, you have enjoyed recently rediscovering the Peanuts Emmy Honored Collection DVD set we got a couple of years ago.

It’s over 4 hours of Charlie Brown and all his friends. It’s something you can get away with watching upstairs in the bonus room while your sister casually plays with her toys; as she occasionally will look up and say, “Puppy?”

This past week as you were hanging out after school one day, you proclaimed to me:

“Daddy, who do you think I am out of all the characters on this show?”

“Charlie Brown, right?”

“No, look: Linus. See? He always carries around his blue blanket- and look, I’m even wearing a red shirt like him too.”

It’s true that you’ve always carried around that blue blanket. Looking back even here on my blog, I wrote about it nearly 6 years ago on April 23, 2012, in “My Son’s Linus Van Pelt Stage: Carrying Around His Blanket”.

In fact, your blue blanket serves as an subconscious symbol of contention for me. You tend to leave it in the middle of the floor, which is a feng shui issue.

So much so, that during one of Nonna’s recent visits to our home, she discreetly taught you to have your blanket put away by the time I got back home, explaining to you, “Have you noticed how your blanket serves as a trigger for your Daddy, when he sees it on the floor or the kitchen table? Make sure you get it out of his sight before he walks in the door.”

Yeah, I guess you’re right: You are Linus.

And perhaps this isn’t a stage, as I thought it was nearly 6 years ago.

Instead, this blanket is simply a part of you and ultimately; an extension of your identity. You self-identity as Linus.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Nonna’s Visit While I Was Away in Florida

1 year, 10 months.

Dear Holly,

Last week while I was driving across the state of Florida for the Toyota Grand Slam event, Papa brought Nonna here to take care of you during the day while Mommy was at work.

Now that I work from home on my own schedule as a freelance social media specialist, it’s much easier for me to be able to travel on press events; as long as Nonna can take my place during the day.

So while I was out promoting Toyota, you got to have a lot of fun with Nonna. She sent me plenty of pictures throughout the week so I could catch up on what you were into.

Perhaps the biggest accomplishment last week while Nonna was in town was that, for the first time, you ate noodles! You saw Nonna go to the pantry to get some Ramen noodles for lunch.

That’s when you explained to her, “Daddy eat.”

Nonna made you some for lunch, and as these pictures illustrate, you enjoyed your noodles. Good to know!

I appreciate how Nonna had you pose for some pictures for me while I was away. My favorite shot is when you were standing by the stairs. You held on to the sides of your clothes and leaned backwards, with the cutest look on your face.

This picture meant so much to me that I made it my wallpaper on my phone. It really shows your personality, as that was your response to choosing a pose for a picture that you knew I would like.

You read my mind!

While I definitely enjoyed my trip to Florida, I obviously was very happy to come home and see you again. You enjoyed helping me unpack on the Toyota souvenirs I brought back.

You especially liked the cup with the carabiner lid. These days you’re definitely at that developmental stage where you can easily spend 30 minutes in a loop, as you get lost in figuring out how a basic object can be manipulated.

So I truly believe had I actually spent money on real souvenirs, it wouldn’t have been quite as cool as the swag I brought home.

You were well taken care of while I was gone.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: You Were the Man of the House While I Was Gone in Florida

7 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack,

I just now realized that while I was in Florida working on promoting Toyota, you were the man of the house back home in Tennessee. Granted, you were school most of the time, as it was Monday through Thursday that I was gone; but still, you were only male at the house with Mommy, Nonna, and your sister.

As usual, you did a great job taking care of your sister while I was gone. You let her borrow your Monkey, named Bobby. I know that meant a lot to her.

You also decided to sharpen up your skateboarding skills in the driveway; which I am very proud to see.

Fortunately, my plane landed back in Nashville just in time for me to make it home in time to see your 1st grade musical. Though it could have been a coincidence, it’s possible you were placed right in the middle of the stage because you knew the songs and motions so well.

Once we got back to the house, it was nearly like Christmas as I let you and your sister open your presents, I mean, unpack my Toyota swag.

While I’m sure I’ll be breaking in my personalized Braves’ jersey with our last name Shell on the back, eventually it will be yours; once it fits you well enough to at least become a shirt for you to sleep in.

I also especially thought of you for what I call the “accordion” cup, that stretches out if you want to fill it with more snacks.

It’s funny for me to take a moment to consider how somewhat unusual it is for you to be accustomed to me going on these “business trips” and bringing you back swag souvenirs. But it’s not like I sell insurance or medical supplies. I simply am a daddy blogger.

I don’t suppose most of your friends can relate to having a Toyota beach towel or a stick of Toyota chap stick. Oh well, you do!

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