Dear Jack: Your Homemade Fishing Pole and Net

10 years, 2 months.

Dear Jack,

One of the life lessons I am currently reminding myself of is this: Be prepared for great memories to be made… especially when life itself is a distraction.

You spent most of your free time last week creating a fishing and pole and net. This was complete your idea.

It started when you asked me to go out to the woods with you to cut down some bamboo sticks, to use as the rods.

Then you used my old pocket knife from when I was a boy to carve notches in the poles for the hooks to stay secured in, when not in use.

You also used a bamboo stick to securely tape to an old net you found at the park last year.

The net turned out to be a good decision, because it was way to cold last Saturday morning for any fish to show up in the nearby creeks. Instead, your prize catch with a pretty decent sized crawfish.

I am proud of you for taking it upon yourself to invite me to make memories like this.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Your Red Ryder BB Gun

10 years, 2 months.

Dear Jack,

No doubt, you had quite a big Christmas. But you also had some money in gift cards that was burning a hole in your pocket; thanks to the idea you came up with…

To get a Red Ryder BB gun!

Our backyard has been converted into a shooting range. We have spent a good amount of time now, having shooting contests to see who has the most accurate shot.

I’m decent… but you are really good!

And on top of that, you take gun safety very seriously.

It is a fun activity we both really enjoy doing together.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: A Snow Day When You Were Finally Supposed to Go Back to Your Classroom

10 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack,

You were definitely ready to go back to the actual classroom on Monday; as it had been a month, between Christmas vacation and Covid cases going up.

But instead, you had to stay home one more day; because on Monday, snow prevented the school from opening.

Not that you minded!

I spent my lunch hour taking you sledding on all the best hills in our neighborhood.

During that time, we pretty much used up all the good snow, and then the snow was starting to melt anyway.

But we made the most of it and we had a lot of fun together!

Dear Jack,

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Putting Papa in Jail

4 years, 7 months.

Dear Holly,

You and your cousin Darla have this tradition of “putting Papa in jail” every time the two of you get together.

My understanding of it is that you “arrest” him by taking him to a closet, where he has to wait until the two of you hide, then he has to come find you.

Afterwards, it typically ends with him reading you a book; or a similar activity while you sit in his lap.

Especially now during Christmas break, I am hearing daily, “Papa, you have to go to jail!”

He has quite the criminal record by now.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: A Dad’s Letter to His Son on His 10th Birthday

10 years old!

Dear Jack,

This year, I’ve become fully aware of this paradox: When you were young, part of me longed to see you as a grown boy; and now that you are a grown boy, part of me longs to relive those days with you as a young boy and toddler.

It has deeply, emotionally affected me this year.

With me being on a furlough for a couple of months due to Covid, I not only had more quality time at home with you than I normally would, but I also had more focused time to write new songs.

Through the nearly 2 week process of writing and eventually recording my song about you, “That Boy’s Been Growing Up on Me”, I broke down crying nearly every time I sang it.

In fact, the finished recording was one of the few exceptions where I didn’t break down crying.

As I myself am now only 5 months away from turning 40, I rarely lend myself to emotional responses. I  have evolved into a person who rarely utilizes access to my “emotional control box”. Largely, my quality of life has undeniably improved since practicing this habit over the past couple of years.

But the one exception is my family; especially in regards to us all getting older.

I couldn’t be prouder of the 10 year-old version of you. I got exactly what I wanted.

I’m nostalgic for the present, like it’s the past.

Happy 10th Birthday, Jack! To say “I love you” is a laughable understatement.

Love,

Daddy