Dear Jack: Your Back-to-School, 2nd Grade Haircut (1 Inch on Top, #2 Guard on the Side, Down to #1 in the Back)

7 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

Last Friday you began 2nd grade with a half day of school. I hadn’t had a chance to get your hair cut beforehand, so you still had your grown-out summer mop hairstyle going on.

So I took you to the Great Clips, just a mile from our house, first thing on Saturday morning.

I could tell you were proud to get cleaned up. Though Mommy and I told you that your hair was long enough to change up your hairstyle into a bangs look, you expressed that’s the part of your hair that annoyed you the most: the hair getting in your eyes.

That’s what you had been telling me the past two weeks each morning, as I am the one who fixes your hair before school… and church… and anytime we leave the house.

I even offered to get you a buzz cut, but you weren’t that annoyed by the hair getting in your eyes.

So I guess that is your standard haircut now:

1 inch long on top; with a #2 guard on the sides, down to a #1 guard in the back.

This makes the 3rd time in a row we’ve gone to Great Clips and they simply cut your hair based on the notes in the computer from the time before- and you were perfectly happy with the results.

That’s the hairstyle  you like. And you know this. It’s part of your identity.

And then when your hair gets long enough that it’s in your eyes again, about a month or so later, that means it’s time for a new haircut.

It’s interesting to me that as a 2nd grade boy, you know what you do and do not like in a hairstyle for yourself:

Buzz cut? Nope, too short.

Bangs? No way, too annoying.

Long enough to sort of spike on top and very short on the sides and back?

Perfect.

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Holly: Yes, You Do Your Own Stunts!

2 years, 3 months.

Dear Holly,

After Nonna and Papa had spent the weekend at our house while Mommy and I went to see Kenny Chesney in Nashville and then painted the back porch the next day, it was time for them to head back Sunday afternoon.

So I announced to you, “Holly, it’s time to say goodbye to Nonna and Papa…”

You immediately ran over to them, smiled, then ran the other way- towards the sofa.

All weekend, you had been showing off your furniture climbing skills. As if to give them one more little talent show before they left, you climbed right up the arm of the couch, then rolled yourself over onto the cushion.

From there, you hopped down, ran towards Nonna and Papa, then continued to repeat the sofa climb.

After several cycles through, Papa finally grabbed you for the official goodbye hug.

Otherwise, I think you could have easily gone another 30 minutes through your self-imposed obstacle course in the living room.

It’s clear to me that right now, one of the things that is definitely a part of your identity is your fearlessness. You demonstrated this to Nonna and Papa all weekend.

If you could climb it, you did. If you could jump from it, you did.

And never once did you fall or get hurt. Papa even witnessed you teach yourself how to do a somersault, as you were running so fast across the living room floor that you stumbled, fell forward, then instinctively pushed yourself up after your legs had already flipped over your head.

I can’t help but think how this ends up translating to your interests and activities as you get a little older.

Gymnastics? Yeah, that’s a given.

But I’m even thinking indoor rock climbing. That may be the thing that’s actually challenging enough for you!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: You Start 2nd Grade in the Morning

7 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

Tomorrow morning, you will officially be a 2nd grader. I was just telling Mommy tonight how I pretty much remember the entire year of 2nd grade. It was the first year in school where I have more than just flashes of memories from it.

I remember that was the year I officially became obsessed with getting a Nintendo so I could try to save the princess on Super Mario Bros. I remember Nonna taking me to see the movie, Big, which was the first non-kids’ movie I ever saw in a theater. And I remember that was the first time I was in a school play: I was an earthworm.

You have an exciting year ahead of you, which will bring its own little milestones in your life.

Today was your last day of summer art camp. When I picked up and reminded your teacher why you wouldn’t be returning after today, I could tell how proud you were when I said, “Jack starts 2nd grade tomorrow!”

Earlier this week, we even got to meet your 2nd grade teacher… or I should say, teachers.

Your school is experimenting with a new curriculum this year in which you will have a homeroom teacher who takes care of math and science, but then for reading and social studies, you will go across the hall where a secondary teacher will handle those subjects.

When I started 2nd grade 30 years ago in 1988, we only swapped teachers for reading. And it wasn’t until 6th grade that switched teachers for more than one subject.

You are definitely ready and eager to start 2nd grade.You were proud too, that this will be your first year at your school where your classroom is up on the 2nd floor.

If you weren’t a big kid before, you definitely are now.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Hanging Out with Your Cousins in Alabama, While Mommy was in Canada

7 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

From last Friday to this past Tuesday, Mommy was in Vancouver; on a business trip in Canada. So after I got off work on Friday, I drove straight to your school and took you and your sister straight to Alabama; a trip that took precisely 2 hours and 18 minutes.

I left on Sunday afternoon, after a much needed nap for the 2nd day in a row.

As for you and your sister, the two of you got to experience a few days of Cousin Summer Camp!

This included making slime, shopping for a new toilet at Lowe’s, and running around in the gym during a family reunion.

It was a great way to bring your summer of 2018 to an end, as you will be starting 2nd grade in a few weeks.

Looking back, it’s been a pretty big summer, actually!

It started off by me finally going back to work after being a stay-at-home dad for 6 months. Then shortly after, our family got to travel through northern California for 2 weeks. And you even got to go to Art Camp.

And along the way, I have seen you and your sister become even closer, as her personality and social skills have development greatly over the course of this summer.

You have been very kind to share your stuffed animals with her. After all, you have the largest stuffed animals compared to any kid I know.

I’d say as far as summers go, you got your boyhood’s worth. And that’s not even mentioning earlier when you and Papa caught a snake!

I understand that it’s summers like these that will greatly form who you are. As your parent, I can feel confident in knowing that my kids didn’t have a boring summer.

If anything, you are probably due a long nice nap yourself, thanks to all the non-stop action this summer!

Love,

Daddy

 

Dear Jack: Maybe You’ve Grown Up a Bit More When I Wasn’t Looking

7 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

Whereas I don’t feel like your sister has grown up all of the sudden, like the way people feel who haven’t seen her in a while, I can’t say the same about you.

Raising your sister at age her requires so much of my attention, that I am aware that it sort of feels like I can’t focus as much on you as I did before your sister was born.

While I could feel guilty about that, I have to remind myself that when you were 2 years old, I probably spent even more time pouring my attention and care into you.

In the process, your role and identity has had to shift from the only child to the older brother.

Fortunately though, you’ve done a remarkable job with that transition. The 5 and a half year difference between you and sister definitely makes things easier, I believe.

I feel that we’re nearing a point where I’ll feel that my time will be a bit more balanced, as your sister is now gaining much independence. I look forward to us spending more time together.

At the same time though, somewhere between the fact you’ve been forced to be more independent of my attention because of your sister, and because you’re naturally becoming more dependent in your age anyway now that you are almost in 2nd grade, it’s like things are naturally gravitating towards a more balanced divide of my attention.

But I do feel like you’ve grown up more quickly here without my noticing it.

So hopefully, time will feel like it’s slowing down with you about more in the near future; whereas with your sister, it’s almost as if time has progressed slower than normal, because of how much time I’ve spent with her.

I look forward to things balancing out.

Love,

Daddy

Photo by Mohamad Alaw.

Dear Holly: You’re at the Age Now Where People Think You Grew Up So Fast, But You Didn’t…

2 years, 3 months.

Dear Holly,

You are officially at the age now, to where if someone hasn’t seen you since you were a baby, they will react with, “Oh wow! Holly is all grown up now! She’s a girl!

We have friends and family members that have haven’t seen you in about two years. So for them to you see now as a little girl, it can give the impression that time has just flown by since you were born.

However, it’s a different feeling for me; regarding my perception of time.

I definitely don’t feel like you grew up while I blinked. For me, I think it only reinforced a more natural passing of time in that I had 6 months to take care of you while I was a stay-at-home dad.

Through every night where I woke up at 3:00 AM to change your diaper and help you get back to sleep, it’s possible that it felt like time was actually passing by more slowly for me.

It’s like the way that sitcoms often skip the years between infancy and Kindergarten, I imagine that’s how it is to the outside world when they see you.

I suppose it’s also like the way if a person stares at the minute-hand of a clock in an attempt to watch it move, compared to someone who looks away from the clock.

This weekend we have a family reunion to go to. I am expecting many people to say, word for word, “Is this Holly? She’s gotten big. I remember seeing pictures of her when she was a baby. She grew up quickly!”

But for me, as a parent who has been heavily involved in so many waking hours of your life, you’ve grown up at normal speed.

I’ve survived enough sleepless nights to feel it.

Love,

Daddy

Photos by Mohamad Alaw.

Dear Jack: You and Your Sister Have Turned Our Old Phones into Technology Corner

7 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

One night last week in attempt to keep your sister occupied as Mommy and I rushed to finish cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, I saw Mommy’s newly retired “old” phone on the shelf.

I pulled up the calculator app, and my plan proved itself to be successful. Your sister had become instantly lost in a sea of numbers. She was additionally mesmerized by the water drop sound effect Mommy’s phone made each time a new number was pressed.

So for the past several days now, it has not been uncommon for your sister to crunch numbers, while you play Survival Craft on the Kindle.

Eventually, your sister made her way over to you, from the coffee table which had been serving as her work station.

Then you had a really cool idea. You pulled up the camera on the phone and began taking selfies with her. She loved it!

It was such a big deal for her to get to see how each new picture turned out.

Before your sister’s 2nd birthday, it was rare for me to let your sister have any screen time. But now that she has proven she has reached certain milestones in her speech abilities, I’m okay with a reasonable amount of her watching Netflix with you… or playing with an old phone.

An “old” cell phone from 3 years ago is actually more like a mini home computer. And we have two of them lying around; both Mommy’s and mine. So really, I can imagine how cool of a toy it must seem to your sister.

I have a feeling that from now on, I will need to make sure that one of our old phones is fully charged before any upcoming road trip; like the next time we make the 2 and a half hour drive to Nonna and Papa’s house.

Love,

Daddy