Dear Holly: Your New Alarm Clock, to Ensure You Don’t Wake Up Too Early

3 years, 4 months.

You and I had a deal. It had been working for many months now:

Each night as I put you to bed, I would remind you, “Okay Holly, remember- don’t come downstairs until you see the sunlight start coming through the window.”

It helped ensure you didn’t start the day too early.

But for some reason, you stopped going along with our deal.

This past week, your new default wake-up time was 5 AM.

So I decided to set up a new system. I pulled out an old cell phone and let you decide what song you want to play for the alarm.

It’s less of an alarm to wake you up each morning and more of an alarm to let you know what time you are allowed to come downstairs and start the day.

I sure hope this works…

Dear Holly,

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Holly: Climbing into the Jeep Wrangler All By Yourself

3 years, 1 months.

Dear Holly,

Now that we have our Jeep Wrangler, it has become our official family vehicle. So that means in addition to you loading up in the Jeep every morning for school, you also ride in it on the weekends too; whereas we only used to ride in my Mommy’s car on the weekends.

A couple of weeks ago, you began insisting that I not help you into the Jeep. You started treating the process as is you were on a climbing wall at a playground; using any crevices or latches to pull yourself up.

So basically, the Jeep is a mobile playground to you. It is for me too!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: It’s Hard to Take a Normal Picture of You These Days

7 years, 7 months.

Dear Jack,

As I began looking through the more than a thousand pictures I took of our family’s recent trip to northern California, it didn’t take me long to notice a pattern: It was rare to see you just smiling normally in a photo.

Instead, the majority of the pictures show you making some kind of silly face.

Whether it’s a scary monster face, or an over-the-top smile, or just you simply photo-bombing someone else’s photo, you are all about being silly in photos.

Granted, I was able to get some normal pictures of you during our vacation. And that’s good enough for me.

I accept you, as you are, as a 7 and a half year-old boy. I want you to be able to express yourself that way.

So I accept that at this point in your life, you’ve had your picture taken enough to where it’s become a bit of a joke to you.

I don’t mind this. I completely realize that in a matter of about 5 years, I’ll be lucky to even get you to pose for a picture where you’re smiling- in any form. Because you’ll be in that teenage phrase where you are embarrassed by me.

This is actually something I’ve always wondered about: At what point will I no longer be able to include new photos of you in my letters to you? At what point can I no longer get away with including you in my blog?

I recognize that at some point, your need for privacy may override the fact that I love celebrating and documenting whatever is going on in your life each week.

So despite me having written about you at least once every week since Mommy and I knew you were going to be born, that may need to come to an end, some time in the future; or at least, maybe I’ll need to do it less frequently.

It’s very clear to me: Silly, happy pictures of you are much better than no pictures at all.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: I Have Sort of Convinced You That a Rat Puppet is Actually Your Class Pet Dwarf Gerbil from Your School

2 years.

Dear Holly,

For the past couple of months now in your preschool class, you and your friends have enjoyed the presence of Gus Gus, a dwarf gerbil.

Each morning when I take you into the classroom, our immediate routine is to for me to lift you up to the cage so you can ask, “Gus Gus?”

That translates as, “Are you awake yet, Gus Gus?”

The answer is usually, “Well, now I am!” as we watch the wood chips move around and see two beady eyes looking back at us.

One morning we even walked in to see a clear blue plastic roll right across the floor as we opened the door, as Gus Gus raced to the other side of the room as part of his early morning exercise.

Gus Gus finds his way into daily conversations, too. I use him as an interesting subject to help you formulate sentences.

For example, anytime you see a pick-up truck now, you point, and proudly shout, “Truck? Truck! Truck!”

So from there, I started saying, “Gus Gus drives a truck?”

You obviously liked the concept, then decided to repeat that ridiculous thought.

Now anytime you see a pick-up truck, you know what to say to me:

“Truck! Truck! Gus Gus drive truck.”

It finally occurred to me as we were playing with your toys in the living room, to bring life to the rat puppet which I originally got right before you were born, as I was planning on it being a character in your brother’s superhero series on YouTube.

You were amazed to learn was Gus Gus secretly living in our house the whole time, but also that he could talk, and even say your name.

And even when you realized that you yourself could stick your hand into Gus Gus and control his mouth, you still were every bit excited to announce, “It’s Gus Gus!”

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Jack: Your Amazingly Accurate Family Portrait That You Drew for Fun at School, That Almost Got Thrown Out

7 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack,

This past weekend as Mommy was cleaning out your back pack from school, in an effort to throw out anything you didn’t need in there anymore, she found a hidden treasure, asking, “Ah Jack, what’s this?”

It was immediately obvious that you had done an amazingly accurate job of drawing and coloring a picture of your family.

The details were all there.

You and you sister have blue eyes, while your parents have brown. You mixed yellow and brown for your hair color, which is a sandy brown; unlike your sister’s blonde hair and your parents’ brown hair.

I had to laugh, because I now realize you purposely drew me wearing hat, as you’ve made it clear in a subtle way thought you don’t like my current look of choosing a zero guard buzz cut. (With a gentle nudge from Mommy this week, though, it has been decided I’ll be growing my hair back out now.)

In your drawing, Mommy’s lips were colored in full, as compared to the rest of us: I’ve never seen her when she’s not wearing lipstick.

You even took great measure to get our wardrobes right. Clearly, you put a lot of thought into this picture.

What makes me proudest about your drawing is that you chose to do this on your own, at school. It was not part of an assignment.

You just took it upon yourself to draw your family, with great personal details according to each family member.

And we’re all happy in the picture; which is a reflection of how you see us.

I’m looking at the psychological reason you drew this picture. This was your way of expressing that you love your family.

The thing is, there was no guarantee we were even going to see it.

In fact, it almost got thrown away, as it was casually mixed in with a bunch of old graded homework.

You didn’t draw this picture to impress me.

But boy, you managed to anyway.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Hitting and Hugging Your Brother “Jackie” Within a 5 Second Time Frame

2 years.

Dear Holly,

You are really having fun these days as you are learning the art of forming short, yet complete, sentences. Over this past week especially, I have noticed you are even finding a comfort level when communicating with your family.

So now, whenever you’re hanging out and playing with your brother Jack, you love to call him by his nickname you gave him: Jackie.

“You coming, Jackie?”

“Let’s go, Jackie!”

“Hold you, Jackie?”

By the way, “hold you” is one of my favorite things you say these days.

It’s of course the result of Mommy and me asking you, “Do you want me to hold you?”, when we see you are getting tired walking outside in the cul-de-sac or at a store.

So when you want Mommy or me or pick you up, you just say, “Hold you?”

Most recently, my favorite story about you and Jack playing happened this past weekend when Mommy was working on dinner and I was working on the dishes.

You and your brother were playing, when all of the sudden, you just approached him and slapped him in the chest, declaring, “No!”

He had done nothing to earn this. He was being nice to you. It was completely random that you did that. It was so random.

But immediately, before Mommy or I could address the issue, you looked up at Jack and asked, “Hold you?”

I guess it’s just proof of how well the two of you play together.

Because Jack wasn’t upset that you hit him for no reason, anyway. But then you immediately, and softly, asked him to “hold you”, which meant you wanted him to hug you, he gladly obliged.

The logic is just hilarious to me:

Approach your brother who is being kind to you, angrily slap him in the chest while shouting “No!, then immediately and meekly ask him for a hug.

I love watching you learn to communicate and interact with other human beings.

Love,

Daddy

 

When As Parents, You Decide to Keep Driving for 2 More Hours After Your Kid Makes a Poopy Diaper in the Back Seat

We were an hour into a 3 hour trek back to our home in Tennessee when my wife and I noticed the smell: Our 2 year-old daughter, who had finally just fallen asleep after desperately needing to, had also just “dropped a load” in her diaper.

My wife and I barely had a verbal discussion about our immediate, yet difficult, decision:

We were not going to pull over the car and wake her up to change her diaper. Instead, we were going to drive 2 more hours while having to experience a permeating barnyard odor.

In life, it’s important to choose your battles.

And as somewhat seasoned parents, as we also have a 7 year-old son who also had to be trapped in the car with us, we decided the battle of losing time on our trip back home and having to deal with getting an extremely tired little girl back to sleep just wasn’t worth it.

For two hours, we only breathed through our mouths; yet still our eyes watered.

It wasn’t worth even attempting conversation. Normally, my wife and I would appreciate being able to have a normal conversation without being interrupted by our kids.

Yeah, not worth it this time.

It was just about powering through.

We tried rolling the windows down a little bit, but then we were in danger of the noise waking our daughter up.

To make it up to our son who was sitting next to his sister, we bargained with him: If you don’t complain about the smell, you can keep playing DinoCraft on the Kindle.

Since he is accustomed to not being able to play his game for more than an hour each day, he took the deal.

We survived. We made it home. It was brutal.

But we are family. We do what it takes to move forward together.

Poopy diapers and all.