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.

Nope.

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.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: You Love Vegan Avocado Toast!

1 year, 3 months.

Dear Holly,

To say you are a picky eater is an understatement. Plus, like me, you have negative reactions to consuming dairy, so I am so happy to see you less dependent on milk for your food throughout the day. Even just since graduating from formula, your skin is looking much better.

Ah, finally- you are munching on food you have to chew.

As you can imagine, with you being born to a vegan father, I am eager to teach you from a very young age, how to get your proteins and fats from plants, like I do; as opposed to believing that protein and fat from animals is necessary in order to healthy, like our government teaches and like most people believe.

So when Mommy introduced you to avocado toast (bread, avocado, vegan butter, salt, pepper), and you actually loved it, I was in my glory. It’s quite typical on Saturday mornings for Mommy and me to have that for breakfast. Sort of on a whim, Mommy steered the avocado toast to your mouth, in the off chance you would actually taste it and try it.

Apparently, you thought it looked similar to the contents of all those organic fruit and veggie pouches we give you. Even though avocado tastes nothing like what you’re used to eating, you immediately went back for a second bite. And a third and a fourth…

Mommy actually had to make you a 2nd entire piece of vegan toast!

With your brother being a big fan of cheese, I know there’s no chance of me convincing him to convert from vegetarian to vegan until at least past his teenage years.

But as you, my dear daughter, I think I might just be able to corrupt you, I mean convince you of a life dependent on nuts and seeds for fat, instead of dairy.

I will keep trying to entice you…

In the meantime, I will make sure you have plenty of access to avocado toast!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: You are Very Serious about Riding the Electric Princess Scooter

1 year, 3 months.

Dear Holly,

I honestly don’t even know how it ended up at Nonna and Papa’s house, but what I do know is this, you’re sort of obsessed with the electric princess scooter they now have for when you visit.

Last Saturday while I was filming a video of Nonna explaining how she makes her Italian vegan soup, Mommy was outside with you; pressing the gas handle for you and helping you steer.

(video)

You loved feeling the breeze blowing through your hair. You loved being able to drive down an actual road, as opposed to the living room carpet you’re used to at our house. You loved the freedom.

Once it was time to come inside for lunch, you got very upset. Here you had just made this amazing discovery, and now you had to forsake it!

So later that day, I took you back outside to your glorious new ride. Mommy wasn’t joking when she had warned me how much you loved that electric princess scooter.

It’s funny because the thing is so small and low to the ground, yet moves pretty quickly for what it is, I had trouble keeping up with it, as I awkwardly hunched over while holding on to the gas and helped you steer.

Fortunately, you gave me a break right about the time I really started needing it. You decided you wanted to push your electric princess scooter down Nonna and Papa’s driveway. So let you.

I followed behind you, though you didn’t really need me at that point. You had it all under control.

As I watched you push the scooter, it was like seeing the equivalent of a teenage kid who gets their first car, then proudly spends time washing it, when they could be driving it.

My little girl is serious about riding! Hey, I can dig it.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: The Dr. Suess Playhouse You Built with Your Cousin

6 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

It’s funny to see what happens when you let two almost 1st grader cousins entertain themselves at Nonna and Papa’s house. All it took was a few stuffed animals, a Cozy Coupe, a play tunnel, and the furniture in the living room.

The next thing I knew, you both had built a Dr. Suess style playhouse!

Apparently, the entry way was a slide that was prompted up on the couch. Once you tested out that out several times, you built the cabin space, thanks to the recliner couch and your favorite blanket.

Once that was complete, you and your cousin enjoyed the fruits of your labor by secretly sharing some snacks and toys underneath the blanket ceiling.

During the course of the weekend, there were several modifications; one including the giant D.A.R.E. bear at the end of the tunnel. I’m not really sure what purpose he served, but there was no need for me to question it. As long as it made sense to the two of you, it made sense to me!

Clearly, your Dr. Suess style playhouse is the modern twist on the classic children’s fort.

I’m sure in your mind, the playhouse was huge. When you’re young, things seem much bigger than they are; especially when imagination is heavy in the mix.

You literally spent hours building, rebuilding, and playing in it. And my favorite part about was, no one had to tell the two of you to go imagination and figure out something fun to do.

It just happened.

Obviously, you both were able to make something exciting out of something ordinary. That skill will get you far in the life.

I have a feeling that the next time you visit, the next playhouse will be even more extravagant… and bizarre!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: You are Now Asking Me Questions about Baptism

6 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

As your Daddy, I have to always be ready for serious, sincere questions; especially at times when I would least expect. That definitely was the case as we were driving back from the movies last Sunday.

Completely unrelated to our conversation discussing your favorite part of the movie, basically out of nowhere, you asked me this: “Daddy, will we see your Grandma in Heaven?”

That set up the next question, “Daddy, what will Heaven be like?”

And that led to, “Will we see Jesus in Heaven?”

Then, “If Jesus is God, then are they one person or two?”

And then, “Does a person have to be baptized to go to Heaven?”

That last question is the one you’ve been bringing up daily, since then. Last night, after we read your children’s Bible story about King Hezekiah (which actually was very interesting, and one that I wasn’t really familiar with), you asked me again about Heaven and baptism.

I have been explaining to you that being baptized is how we let everyone know that we believe Jesus is God’s son and that we trust in Him and thank Him for all we have in life. To answer your question, I pointed out that Jesus promised the dying thief on the cross next to Him, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise”. However, any other time in the Bible a person believed in Jesus, they always got baptized afterwards.

For you, believing is the easy part.

It’s funny because for us, one of the ways we bond is when you show me your newest Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh cards you traded that day at school. Some of the characters are called “gods”, yet you always immediately point out that there are false gods, like the idols people made in the Bible.

You always separate the “idols and false gods” from our God. I am truly impressed with your ability, as an almost 1st grader, to process that concept.

So whereas believing is the easy part, right now you are sorting out the details- the main one being this:

“Daddy, how long do I have to go underwater to get baptized?”

Turns out, you asked Mommy these same questions about baptism and Heaven, right after I left your bedroom last night, when she came in to say goodnight.

Now Mommy and I are planning to let you go to “big church” the next time they have a baptismal service; and take you to the front row so you can see exactly how it works.

It is an honor to teach you these things. I don’t want to rush you through your ongoing journey in the Christian faith. Instead, it’s important to me that you understand at your own pace, paced on my consistent guidance.

I simply have been sowing the seeds, by reading your stories from the children’s story Bible that my Grandma gave me 29 years ago. And you truly enjoy going to church, learning aside from we read together.

This is big stuff.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: It’s the Dog Days of Summer, So We Might as Well Go to the Movies!

6 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

This is what I call “the dead of summer.” Not winter, but summer.

Most people refer to this as the dog days of summer. It’s this time of year that I unapologetically think to myself, “I wouldn’t mind it being winter right now…”

Here in Tennessee this time of year, it’s so hot and humid that there’s not a whole we can do outside; unless it involves water- but even then, we have to be sure to prevent sunburn.

During the colder weather months, you and I are able to spend quality time together by going on our hikes in the woods. But as for now, a trip to the matinee is our choice.

Last weekend we saw Spiderman: Homecoming. Obviously, we had a great time and loved the movie!

I personally loved seeing the dynamics of the older, more mature Tony Stark (Ironman) mentoring Peter Parker (Spiderman), as he is basically auditioning to be an Avenger.

And you loved getting to see Spiderman in his own movie. After all, you have so many Spiderman t-shirts, as well as a Spiderman bath towel, Spiderman water hose sprayer, Spiderman toothbrush, and Spiderman Band-Aids, it was about time you got to actually see Spiderman on the big screen.

Granted, we had to get there an hour before the movie started just to get a seat, even though it wasn’t even opening weekend. And then there were 30 minutes of commercials and previews before the movie began. So by the time we stopped by Moe’s for dinner afterwards, we were gone for about 4 and a half hours!

In less than a month, you’ll be starting 1st grade. I’d say it’s been a great summer for you. So many field trips, road trips, and even violin lessons.

Not to mention, you’ve got a week-long stay at Nonna and Papa’s coming up. I know you’ll love that! But as for this coming weekend, I believe you and I will be back at the movies…

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: You’re Growing Up Faster (in My Mind) than Your Brother Did

1 year, 2 months.

Dear Holly,

Last weekend Mommy and I were talking about just how quickly it seems like you’re growing up. Now that you’re confidently walking everywhere, it seems like the crawling stage was so short lived for you.

One theory we came up with is that with your brother, Mommy and I were clueless, being first time parents. The whole process was an ongoing learning curve that really didn’t slow down until your brother was around 3 years-old.

But he’s 6 and a half now. Not a whole lot has changed in his development and the way we have parented him in the past 3 years. We’ve basically been on autopilot, to some degree, for the 2nd half of his life.

So when you showed up over a year ago, Mommy and I already had previous experience to use as a guideline. I think just that alone makes it so much easier to raise you during these younger years.

But it also has a perceived effect in which it seems like you’re growing up faster than your brother did. Similarly, I’ve been telling Mommy how, from the beginning, it’s been easier for me to emotionally connect to you than it was for me to connect to your brother.

Actually, I specifically remember your brother being 15 months-old before I felt like more than a shadow to him. But with you, I’ve always felt you’ve acknowledged me. (You’ll be 15 months old in a few days, by the way.)

You’re always excited to see me when I get home from work. You recognize that I’m fun to be around. With your brother, I was nothing if Mommy was in the room too.

Maybe that instant connection I’ve had with you is something to do with this being my second time around as a parent- and that naturally, I am providing a more natural and accommodating environment for you; as compared to how I was with your brother when he was your age.

Either way, I’m glad you like me so much!

Love,

Daddy