Dear Jack: What I Learned from Father’s Day 2017

6 years, 7 months.

Dear Jack,

Father’s Day morning was quite special, as my very first gift was getting to sleep in, thanks to Mommy. I didn’t wake up until 9:30. It was glorious!

We then made our way to the living room, where I was bombarded with goodies from you and your sister. I now have a Captain America dad shirt. (He’s my favorite super hero.) Plus Mommy got me some vegan treats too.

And of course I was especially delighted to see crafts from you and your sister. You made me a special “shrinky dink” keychain, featuring a drawing you made of your and me; where you’ve again drawn us the same size. I’m so happy because I was a little jealous when Mommy got one for Mother’s Day last month…

Your sister made me a glittery “World’s Best Dad” award, based on the shape of her hand.

I took special care to read through all the questionnaire answers you gave,

as they reveal how you perceive having me as your Daddy:

My dad’s hair is black. (That’s darker than I realized!)

He’s as tall as a boy. (Are you saying I’m short?)

He weighs about 60 pounds. (Last time I checked, I was closer to 160. Guess I recently lost 100 pounds!)

My dad looks handsome when he wears hair gel. (I think you gave this answer because I fix your hair and mine at the same time.)

My dad always says “no.” (Hey, just trying to balance out how nice Mommy is to you. Though on the next page, you said, “My dad is my superhero because he is nice.”)

He’s not very good at cooking. Once Daddy was cooking before I was born and Mommy didn’t like it. (Very true- and very good memory!)

My dad’s favorite song is Metallica. (Yes, just Metallica. I’ll always think of you when I think of them because I really got into them back in January when I stayed overnight without you in the hospital, of all things!)

My dad’s favorite place to go is Whole Foods. (True, I’m there nearly every day, picking up groceries on my mountain bike during my lunch break.)

He always forgets… I don’t think he forgets anything. (True, unless it relates to where some obscure kitchen utensil goes in the drawer. In that case, I need Mommy to draw me a diagram with directions and instructions!)

He really likes to hike. (Yes! And I love the creative way you drew us hiking together, with our backs turned. That’s cool.)

My dad’s job is truck driving. (Actually, I’m the manager of the retention department for a trucking company- but that’s a mouthful!)

He likes to wear plaid shirts. (Right on, good eye!)

He reminds me of a bozo. (If you’re saying I’m funny, I’ll take the compliment!)

I love my dad because he plays Hungry Sharks with me. (Not only did I spent countless hours of our Christmas vacation earning you extra points on that game, it also was a game we took turns playing while you were in the hospital.)

Father’s Day really was special. It actually reminded me of a birthday or something.

I very much enjoyed celebrating fatherhood with you and your sister, and gaining your personal perspective.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: You are My Golden Senorita who Loves Munching on Tortillas

1 year, 1 month.

Dear Holly,

I doubt most people would guess it, but you are indeed part Mexican. My grandmother’s parents were born in Michoacán, which is in southeast Mexico. She was born in Buffalo, New York, but was completely Mexican. So Nonna is half Mexican, I am a quarter, and you are 1/8th.

You’re 12 and half percent Mexican. Of course, your golden hair sure doesn’t help imply that. Nor your blue eyes. Nor your fair skin.

But if nothing else, you have definitely been showing your Mexican roots in that you are currently obsessed with Tortilla Land brand tortillas.

I like them because right there on the package, it says there are only 5 ingredients: wheat flour, water, canola oil, salt, sugar. No unpronounceable chemicals or preservatives. Plus, I can eat them because they are vegan.

Mommy gets them at Kroger, which is where we buy most of our groceries each week.

You just can’t get enough of these tortillas. I love watching you use your little figures try to aggressively grab the little morsels that Mommy and I tear for you. You quickly stuff them in your mouth as if each time were the last time.

Of course, your brother regularly eats them for breakfast, so I suppose there is indeed some legitimate concern that we could run out of these tortillas before you’re ready for another one.

And Mommy makes quesadillas out of them as well. She uses avocado instead of cheese, since I can’t have dairy.

I’ve been trying to get your brother into spicy foods, but he thinks black pepper is spicy. So if I can’t convert him, maybe I can convert you. I need to have at least one kid who can appreciate spicy food.

Perhaps it all starts with a 1 year-old little girl’s fascination with tortillas.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: You Love Taking Out the Garbage and Recycling

6 and a half years.

Dear Jack,

We keep the recycling bin pulled up to the side of our pack porch; that way, you get to toss our empty boxes and bags into it throughout the week. Then every Wednesday when I get home from work, you know what it’s time for: The dirty work!

You insist on opening the gate yourself, then wheeling the recycling bin from our back yard to the sidewalk in front of our house. Plus, you drag the garbage bin the same distance as well.

And the way our yard is designed, it’s a very long and skinny plot of land and there’s a sharp slope the whole way along that side of the house.

It’s quite a sight, since both the recycling bin and the garbage bin are much bigger and heavier than you. But honestly, you seem to do the job with more ease than even I can.

Of course, I always supervise, as I walk behind you to make sure you don’t slip on our slanted yard between our house and the next door neighbors.

But so far, you haven’t needed my assistance.

It’s funny because naturally, trash duty will be an official chore of yours when you get a little older. I love it that you already enjoy doing it.

In fact, there was one week where I just went ahead of moved the bins when I came home, because it was about to rain, and you actually got upset that you didn’t get to do it.

Obviously, you also take the empty bins back behind our house on Thursday as well. But I can tell that’s not as much fun for you, since there’s no challenge in transporting a much heavier load.

I am impressed with your garbage man skills. Lucky for me, you like doing the work.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: You Graduated Kindergarten This Week!

6 and a half years.

Dear Jack,

This Tuesday, just a few days after you won your Math Award in front of the entire school, Mommy and I made our way back- this time, to watch our 6 and a half year-old son graduate Kindergarten.

The festivities began with a presentation in which your entire Kindergarten grade sang a song, which reviewed to us parents all that you learned this year.

Afterwards, we made our way to your classroom, where your (pregnant) teacher presented each individual student with a specific award.

What’s funny about this is that before we all left the house that morning, I took your picture while you held a small chalkboard reading, “When I grow up, I want to be an artist.”

There’s no way that when Mommy came up with the idea for me to take that picture of you, she could have known your teacher would be presenting you with the Amazing Artist Award!

You teacher then presented a 15 minute slideshow on Power Point, which reviewed all the fun your class had this year. And sure enough, she had a picture further reconfirming your focus on becoming an artist when you grow up.

During the presentation, you stood next to your best friend, Duncan. Amazingly, Duncan’s parents were the only other parents in the Lamaze class we were in, 7 years ago.

Imagine the chances that our sons would not only end up in the same Kindergarten class, and naturally end up becoming best friends.

And we didn’t even discover that we knew Duncan’s parents until about a month or so ago, when Duncan’s Mommy figured it out.

What a cool story!

Alright then, you are no longer a Kindergartner. You are our awesome soon-to-be 1st grader! Mommy and I are so proud of you. You are some kid.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: You Evolve into the Snubbull Pokemon When You Get “Hangry” (Hungry + Angry)

1 year, 1 month.

Dear Holly,

I admit- it’s a rare thing to ever see you upset about anything. You’re just a happy, beboppin’ little girl.

You assume the world is all marshmallows and unicorns, and I feel that Mommy and I do our best to make sure that is indeed the case, as best we can.

Undeniably, you are the kind of the baby girl who I just naturally want to make happy. You’re low-maintenance- and of course, you’re adorable! You’re the epitome of cuteness.

With that being said, thanks to your 6 and a half year-old brother, I am now quite familiar with the fundamentals of Pokemon characters; how many of them have the ability to evolve into stronger, fiercer versions of themselves.

Every single day when your brother comes home from school, he eagerly shows me the newest Pokemon cards he received by trading some others that he had just received days before.

As I was flipping through the 4 new cards he got that day, Snubbull immediately stopped me in my tracks:

“Why does this one look so familiar?” I thought to myself. I just couldn’t figure it out.

But just a few days later, I came home from work, to a beautiful strawberry-blonde little girl who was literally changing colors, as she morphed into an angry red version of her usual self.

That was a result of you being equally hungry and tired, yet Mommy and I couldn’t get you fastened into your high chair fast enough.

It wasn’t until I took these pictures later that day that the theory presented itself: that you evolve into Snubbull, the Pokemon fairy, when you are “hangry”.

I don’t want my little girl to have to evolve into a Pokemon character. It’s just too sad to see you upset. I just want to keep you happy, Sweetie!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: You Received the Certificate of Excellence in Mathematics Award for Your Kindergarten Class

6 and a half years.

Dear Jack,

For weeks, Mommy and I had been curious to know the details, as to why your teacher had texted Mommy and me that you would be presented with a special award in front of your school.

I tried to imagine which unique award you might have earned from your Kindergarten teacher. Naturally, I assumed it was either for your creative artwork, your effortless reading skills, or your ability to positively communicate and get along with your classmates.

You were the first student in your class to receive the Student of Month award from your teacher, back in September, so I figured it might have something to do with good behavior.

But instead, last Thursday, Mommy and I pleased to see you walk up in front of your entire elementary school and receive the Certificate of Excellence in Mathematics from your principal. What this means is that out of your entire Kindergarten class, you are the most skilled at Math.

Obviously, I’m very proud. I am so proud.

Yet honestly, I can’t be too surprised. I’ve been saying for months now, how you are able to count, add, and subtract numbers that I wasn’t able to until 2nd or 3rd grade.

I just figured that the entire Kindergarten curriculum had advanced a few grades, since 30 years ago when I was in Kindergarten myself.

And while I’m sure that’s the case, I now must fully accept that you are exceptionally advanced when it comes to your math skills. Your teacher recognized this to the point that you specifically were the one she chose.

The irony here is that the very reason I ended up getting my college degree in English is because I was so bad at math.

I don’t know I ended with a junior math whiz for a son, but I’m glad I did!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: You Hunted and Gathered Some “Baby Biscuits” for Breakfast Saturday Morning

1 year.

Dear Holly,

These are the days of you scouting underneath the kitchen table for any Cheerios you may have dropped earlier. You’re very good at finding them, by the way. And every time you discover a forsaken Cheerio, you proudly extend your little hand and pick it up like a crane machine lifting a toy out of the machine at Mellow Mushroom.

It is very obvious that at your school, you are learning to eat with your hands. I’ve noticed here recently that when I try to feed you veggie and fruit puree with the spoon, you’re starting to resist my help.

As if to sternly yet politely tell me, “Thank you, Daddy, for trying to help me eat dinner. But as you can see, I am actually able to feed myself…”

Often this leads to you cupping your hands to scoop the food out of the bowl. Yeah, it makes a mess, but I’m happy to see you attempt to be a girl her who can feed herself.

But you don’t simply snoop around for Cheerios to feed yourself, as I learned this past Saturday.

As Mommy was shopping for groceries at Kroger, you and I were upstairs in the bonus room with Jack, who was watching a dinosaur documentary on Netflix called Dinotasia.

For a while, you were content to just walk between the red footstool and the couch, as you braced yourself when necessary. You were so quiet, as to respect the fact your brother was in the zone as he learned more about dinosaurs.

Then I heard the rattling of a plastic wrapper for the non-GMO fig bars your brother eats: Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars. I didn’t think much of it. I just figured you liked manipulating the sound that an empty wrapper could make.

But then the rattling ceased, and I saw your little fist clenching one of the bars, and I saw how it was soggy on one end…

You had taken it upon yourself to find your own breakfast! I continued to watch you, and sure enough, you were able to successfully download the food you had found, just lying there.

Since you did such a good job finding and eating your own “baby biscuit”, I ran downstairs and got you a new pack of them.

Without surprise, you were able to chew and slobber your way through those baby biscuits as well, with just those two teeth on bottom and three coming in through the top.

Holly is a hunter-gatherer!

Love,

Daddy