Dear Jack: Let Me Just Savor You at This Age for a Moment, Age 7

7 years, 2 months.

Dear Jack,

I am taking a moment to deliberately freeze this moment in time; as if to keep you this age long enough for me to process the concept.

It is clear to me that you are in a transition between two different stages of boyhood.

You’re old enough to recognize that “Sesame Street is for babies”, yet you will happily watch it alongside your sister, while giving critical yet intelligent commentary on the plot line.

You’re old enough to finally stop spending all your birthday and Christmas money on stuffed animals, yet you genuinely celebrate receiving a new one as a gift.

You’re old enough to walk across the street to catch the bus every morning to school, yet you still can’t tie your own shoes.

Speaking of shoes, it’s as if you’ve still got one foot in the world of Young Boyhood but now have the other foot in the land of Middle Boyhood.

I feel like I’m even catching a glimpse of your early teen years, when it will no longer be cool to be seen in public with your dad.

I keep that in mind, even now, knowing there are times when I need to give you space; yet the very next day you may be very needy of my attention.

It’s obvious to me that you have gained a sense of your own identity at a much younger age than I did. I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I feel you’ve already formed the confidence in yourself that I didn’t gain until junior high.

Perhaps I feel that this is one of those fleeting stages in your life, where if I’m not careful, it will already be gone before I had a chance to acknowledge it.

So I’m acknowledging it.

Before too long, you’ll be openly mocking Elmo and tying your own shoes.

Love,

Daddy

 

Dear Holly: Your Impractical yet Adorable Cowgirl Boots

19 weeks.

Dear Holly: Your Impractical yet Adorable Cowgirl Boots

Dear Holly,

Ever since Mommy finished your nursery months before you were born, I have had my eye on those cowgirl boots she placed in your top drawer.

Just the thought of a cute little baby girl who can’t walk or even crawl yet, but who is wearing cowgirl boots… I love it!

So finally, while we were at Nonna and Papa’s house for Labor Day Weekend, Mommy dressed you up in your cowgirl boots along with a new denim skirt. Your feet had grown enough now so that you fit in them.

It’s funny to me that despite that fact I’m the one who was born and raised in Alabama, it is actually Mommy who identifies more with the country motif and culture; even though she was born and raised in northern California.

She’s been a huge Country Music fan since high school. And she worked for CMT before I met her.

I can already imagine you as a preteen, wearing cowgirl boots with your dresses. When I see you now, I often see the baby version of Mommy. So in a way, it’s like I’m raising a baby cowgirl.

There is no doubt you are one happy little baby. Everyone notices this about you. You just love to smile.

But for me, the combination of your smile and those cowgirl boots is nearly too much!

With your Uncle Jake’s wedding coming up in a few weeks in San Diego, I am hoping your boots still fit by then. I want you to be able to get as much mileage as possible out of things.

Ultimately though, I wouldn’t be too surprised if we just always have a pair of cowgirl boots for you to grow into. I can’t imagine the thought of you not being Daddy’s potentially red-headed cowgirl.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Your Impractical yet Adorable Cowgirl Boots

Dear Holly: The Picture Mommy Secretly Took of Us Sleeping

7 weeks.

Dear Holly: The Picture Mommy Secretly Took of Us Sleeping

Dear Holly,

I did a particular household chore over the weekend that I never look forward to doing: the tedious and unforgiving task of uploading the hundreds of photos from both Mommy’s phone as well as mine; then making separate folders for them to upload to our external hard drive.

(It’s not the simple cut and dry process it should be, nor is the transfer as instant as I would like.)

In doing this, I finally saw a picture that Mommy secretly took of us; back from when you were just a few days old.

I had been sitting on the floor, holding you in attempt to help you get to sleep. Then as my back became sore from hunching over, I laid back on the carpet, while keeping you in a nest of blankets, with my legs crossed “Indian style”.

Dear Holly: The Picture Mommy Secretly Took of Us Sleeping

Apparently my method was quite efficient, because we both fell deep asleep. That’s how Mommy easily sneaked over and snapped a picture of us with her phone.

It happened in the midst of first days of having bringing a newborn home from the hospital that as a parent, I don’t really remember too many details surrounding the event. Everything was just a haze at the time.

After I saw the picture this weekend, I informed Mommy that my favorite radio station, WAY-FM, is holding a contest in which moms are sending in photos of their husbands with their kids, for a Father’s Day.

So obviously, this photo has now been sent. I’m sure we won’t win, but it’s worth a shot. (The prize is a $1,000.)

If nothing else, it’s fun to be able to see this picture. Though I really don’t like uploading the pictures from our phones, at least I was able to unearth this gem.

It was totally worth the work for that reason alone, if nothing else.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: I Never Realized How Badly I Needed a Baby Girl

1 week.

Dear Holly: I Never Realized How Badly I Needed a Baby Girl

Dear Holly,

For years, I was convinced I was perfectly happy having only a little boy. But now that you’ve been in my life for a week, I realize I was wrong. I needed a baby girl in my life.

I love everything about your brother; he’s the perfect little boy. With you here now though, I see that you provide the proper balance to our family.

Dear Holly: I Never Realized How Badly I Needed a Baby Girl

With your brother, I get to be rough and crude and adventurous, as I should be with an all American boy. I get to drive through the mud with him and take him to PG-13 rated super hero movies that some say are inappropriate for him. I love that I get to feel sort of rebellious in parenting your brother.

Dear Holly: I Never Realized How Badly I Needed a Baby Girl

With you, I get to make sweet cooing sounds directly into your face as I stare at you for no less than an hour at a time as I hold you. I am so in love with you.

I have never got to experience this before. Despite being a parent for 5 and a half years, having you here is completely different. You are such a sweet, adorable, and mesmerizing little girl.

You’re so easy to stare at. I love your amazing little smile. I love your uniquely folded ears. I love your tiny little cry.

Had you born a boy, I would have been just as happy; because I couldn’t have known what I was missing. I already knew how much I loved having a son, so I knew things would have been great.

But instead, you were meant to be Holly Joy. I was meant to have a daughter.

I’m not saying there’s no possibility of you never having a younger brother or sister… but I do know that our family has never felt so complete- like the way it does now that you are here.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: I Never Realized How Badly I Needed a Baby Girl

Dear Jack: You were Legitimately Worried People Would Think I’m Superman

5 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack: You were Legitimately Worried People Would Think I’m Superman

Dear Jack,

Last Saturday, as I was paying for parking so we could attend the Nashville Boat & Sportshow, as well as Monster Jam 2016, you and Mommy stayed in the car.

(Fortunately, we lucked out, and only had to pay $13 to park. In downtown Nashville, that’s a good deal.)

I was wearing my new Superman baseball cap that you and Mommy got me for Christmas. As I was outside in the parking lot finalizing our parking space, you asked Mommy, “What if people think Daddy is Superman because he’s wearing that? What if they start crowding around him?”

This was a legitimate concern to you; that the tourists of downtown Nashville would be stopped in their tracks by the presence of the real Superman.

How would they spot me? Because of my Superman logo on my hat; as opposed to my shirt, were the Superman logo is usually displayed.

Never mind that Superman would be more like 6’4” and 220 pounds, whereas I’m 5’9” and 155 pounds.

Still, in your mind, I could pass as Superman.

If I allowed myself to, I could let that go to my head.

I also learned that same day, that you believe Batman, as well as Superman, are not simply fictional super heroes, but actually real people.

As you saw the “Batman building”, as we Nashvillians call it, you proclaimed, “Daddy, I wonder if Batman really sleeps up there on top of the Batman building?”

So in your mind, not only is Batman a real person, but he happens to live in the center of downtown Nashville.

I love the way you think. I love the thought of a version of reality in which not only legendary superheroes walk among us, but also where I, your Daddy, could possibly be mistaken for one.

But in your mind, it works. I am Superman.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: I Don’t Believe that Anybody Feels the Way I Do about You Now

20 weeks.

Dear Holly: I Don’t Believe that Anybody Feels the Way I Do about You Now

Dear Holly,

It has now been a week since we found out you are our baby girl named Holly. Mommy and I have been so truly happy.

Mommy bought you some dresses and other clothes online already and we have been trying to figure out which baby blanket to buy you as well.

Like I mentioned last week, you really have been over 7 years in the making. We have hoped for you for a long time; it’s only now that the timing would be perfect.

Yesterday as I drove home from work, I was listening to what I believe is one of the best musical recordings of all time, released 20 years ago in 1995; Oasis’s (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?

While I was listening to “Wonderwall”, a song that never gets old to me, I thought about you, as certain lines from the song played over the speakers of my Honda Element:

“I don’t believe that anybody feels the way I do about you now…

There are many things that I would like to say to you but I don’t know how…

And after all, you’re my wonderwall”

Perhaps to some people, the term “wonderwall” never really made much sense in that now classic Oasis song.

But to me, it always made sense- and it especially makes sense in regards to how I perceive you:

I write to you as if you are a real, living person, here with me right here and right now.

But the thing is, you are.

There’s simply a technically in that you are still in Mommy’s tummy, where you’ll be until around April 21, 2015.

So until then, you are my wonderwall.

You are this mysterious wall I can’t climb or get over to the other side; yet you are right there in front of me.

While I can’t yet look you in the eyes, you are just as real and familiar as if you are already here with me in the outside world.

You are my daughter. Man, that seems weird to say.

But seriously, how can anybody else in this entire world feel the way I do about you now?

Love,

Daddy

5 Reasons My Young Child “Misbehaves”: Tired, Hungry, Bored, Lonely, or Sick

Louis C.K. spanking quote

I am of the 20% of the American population, the minority, who does not believe in spanking in order to discipline my child.

With that being said, I always give a disclaimer when I write about this: I have no interest in judging other parents for their decisions. If anything, today’s post has more to do with defending my own unusual parenting style.

My theory is that it’s easy and natural as a parent, especially a new parent (which I no longer am), to assume your child is “misbehaving” when really they are needing your attention as a parent, but are incapable of explicitly communicating that to you.

I simplify the symptoms into 5 simple categories. When my child “misbehaves,” he is really just tired, hungry, bored, lonely, or sick.

As his dad, it’s my responsibility to recognize these as symptoms of a greater issue, instead of problems themselves.

Otherwise, I could allow myself to believe my child is misbehaving simply because he is “being a brat right now”.

It comes down to emotional intelligence. I’m a 34 and a half year-old man. I am good at communicating how I feel and at understanding emotions.

However, my son is a month away from being 5 years old, so he’s got about 3 decades less of communication experience and emotional control than I do.

I feel it would be unfair to my child to physically strike him simply because he is tired, or hungry, or bored, or lonely, or sick; blaming him for “misbehaving” when really, he’s in need of my parental provision.

So instead, whenever he is “acting up”, I ask myself this simple question:

“Is my child tired, hungry, bored, lonely, or sick?”

There has yet to be an instance where at least one of those symptoms was not the answer.

I remind myself, that again, my son typically is not going to simply state what the problem is:

“Daddy, the reason I am crying and refusing to sit still is because I didn’t take a long enough nap today at Pre-K. Therefore, the best solution is to put me to bed tonight sooner than usual.”

If I myself am tired, I recognize that fact and make plans to try to sleep; like yesterday, I used my lunch break at work to sleep in my car.

If I’m hungry, I eat. If I’m bored, I find a way to entertain myself. If I’m lonely, I engage someone in conversation. And if I’m not feeling well, I do something about it.

But imagine babies and young children, not being able to necessarily recognize those issues about themselves. They need their parents to recognize these issues and proactively handle, and even prevent, these from even happening.

With my 2nd child due to be born in April, I feel I will be better equipped with this knowledge than I was with my 1st child.

I feel I will be less frustrated because I will clearly understand that a newborn has no way, other than screaming and crying, that he or she is tired, hungry, bored, lonely, or sick; and is depending on me to be proactive enough to do something about it.

So instead of spanking my 4 year-old son, I follow these simple guidelines I learned from back when I was Parents.com’s official daddy blogger for those 3 years:

1. Ignore attention-seeking behavior.

2. Pay attention to good behavior.

3. Redirect your child.

4. Teach consequences that make sense.

5. Use time-outs for serious offenses.