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 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 Jack: You were Chosen as the 1st “Student of the Month” by Your Kindergarten Teacher (Despite My Parenting Style)

5 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack: You were Chosen as the 1st “Student of the Month” by Your Kindergarten Teacher (Despite My Parenting Style)

Dear Jack,

Mommy and I are proud of you anyway, but last Thursday, you came home from school and told us that your teacher chose you are the 1st boy “Student of the Month”.

That means your teacher saw something quite special about you and the girl in your class who were picked; based on you diligently doing your school work, participating in class, and being a positive influence on your friends.

At just 3 weeks into the school year, you had set enough of an impression on your teacher as the stand-out boy in class. Seriously, that’s a big deal!

Selfishly for me, it’s a confirmation for me that despite my imperfections as a parent in raising you, you’re still an intelligent, involved, and well-behaved little boy.

I have to admit that as your parent, you are technically a human experiment to me. You’re my first born. I will by default make more mistakes on you than your baby sister, who is nearly 5 and a half years younger.

Dear Jack: You were Chosen as the 1st “Student of the Month” by Your Kindergarten Teacher (Despite My Parenting Style)

When you were born, I was a much less experienced 29 year-old guy. Now, I’m a 35 year-old dad who has much more confidence as a parent.

It’s so important to me as your dad that I mold you into a well-balanced boy, and ultimately, a well-balanced young man.

Dear Jack: You were Chosen as the 1st “Student of the Month” by Your Kindergarten Teacher (Despite My Parenting Style)

This past weekend your Papa, Uncle Andrew, and I spent two mornings putting together the new trampoline Nonna bought for you and your Cousin Calla when you visit.

Finally, the time had come to try it out.

You and I played rough for a solid 20 minutes or so before I finally wore you out. I caused “earthquakes” (by jumping hard right next to where you were standing), I wrestled you, and I let you ride me like a bull.

That’s how I like to raise you. I like to show you unexpected adventure. I want you to be wild and crazy. I want you to be dangerous with me, yet hopefully not get injured too badly in the process. I want you to be… a boy.

And then I want you to return to school the next day and convince your teacher that you are still the best behaved and most involved boy in class.

So far, my plan is working.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Your Special Friend, Jenna/Sk8ter Boi/Glue Vs. Ice: The Movie

5 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack: Your Special Friend, Jenna/Sk8ter Boi/Glue Vs. Ice: The Movie

Dear Jack,

You love being grown up. Kindergarten is cool. You were so ready for it.

Every morning, I drop you off at Holly’s daycare; from there, you ride the bus to your school. After just a few days of our new routine, you started telling Mommy and me about a new friend named Jenna.

Apparently, from Day #1 she has taken the initiative to be a special friend to you. It sounds like it all started when the two of you starting walking onto the bus together and sharing a seat.

We’ve yet to meet Jenna; as she apparently shows up after I drop you off each day. But we do know that she’s older; she’s in 1st grade.

Sure, you like hanging out with the boys and girls in your actual Kindergarten class, but undoubtedly, there’s something special about that 1st grader, Jenna.

As for now though, she remains a mystery to your parents.

Meanwhile, I love watching you develop your style and interests. As I took a picture of you last week, I thought to myself, “He looks like a little skateboarder.”

Then over the weekend, Mommy was telling me how you’ve been talking about wanting a skateboard.

In our cul-de-sac, it appears that boys ride skateboards while girls ride bikes.

Here you are, going on 6 years-old, and you don’t know how to ride a bike. But thing is, you don’t seem to care. Instead, you want to ride a skateboard.

As your parents, we’re here to support your interests and talents.

Therefore, our kitchen table is currently covered with different colored pieces of construction paper, in which you’ve drawn the names of each person in our family… in glue.

Wednesday evening after you finished dinner, you looked up from the paper plate with an ice cube on it, onto which you were squirting glue.

You suggested, “Hey Daddy, they should make a movie called Glue Vs. Ice.”

I’m confident you were inspired after this past weekend when you and I watched the straight-to-Netflix movie, Airplane Vs. Volcano.

When I asked you who you thought would win the fight, you confidently replied, “I think it would be the glue that wins, because it would just stick to the ice; but the ice couldn’t stick to the glue- it would just explode.”

Sounds like a great movie to me!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Your Proposed Aliens-Themed Birthday Party/The Butt Club

5 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack: Your Proposed “Aliens and Butts” Birthday Party Idea

Dear Jack,

This is your first week of being in Kindergarten all day long. I can tell you love it and that you’re having a good time making new friends.

Based on conversations I’ve been hearing you have with Mommy, apparently you and your new friends have been having meetings on the playground as part of what you call “The Butt Club” where you all “talk about butts.”

I appreciate this concept. It’s like an underground movement where Kindergartner boys can meet secretly to freely discuss the greatness of “butts”; a topic that is taboo in the classroom.

It would be my speculation that “having gas” would be a popular topic of discussion, as you and your friends of The Butt Club talk about butts.

On Tuesday when I came home from work, I handed you a surprise I picked up from the treasure box at the dentist office: a bendable alien toy.

You were so excited when you turned him around and saw that he had a visible butt!

This toy alien gave you much joy, and entertainment, for the rest of the evening; eventually, a clever and original idea was born:

You asked Mommy about having an alien-themed birthday party for when you turn 6 in November. Unsurprisingly, you were quick to also mention the inclusion of “butts” as part of the theme, as well.

We’ve still got 3 months to figure out how to accomplish this theme for your birthday party. Last year, we didn’t have an official party for you, since we took a trip to Florida to celebrate instead.

But with a newborn sister, and a week-long trip to San Diego for Uncle Jake’s wedding at the end of September, another trip in November is unlikely.

So maybe an alien-themed is possible… I’m just not so sure about the butts.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: You Started Kindergarten This Week, Exactly 30 Years after I Did

5 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack: You Started Kindergarten This Week, Exactly 30 Years after I Did

Dear Jack,

Exactly three decades ago in August 1986, I began Kindergarten back at Forest Avenue Elementary in Fort Payne, Alabama. I remember how much I cried, begging your Nana (my Mommy) not to leave me there.

She said, “Oh look, it’s Heath Owen. He’s the son of lead singer of Alabama (the Country music group).”

Somehow that distraction helped ease the chaos in my mind. After all, “Roll On Eighteen Wheeler” was, by default, by favorite song around that time.

I will quickly acknowledge that your first day and first week of Kindergarten have been nothing like that. Instead, you have been literally and figuratively hopping to go to school.

You love it!

Granted, you have been in daycare, and then preschool, since you were 7 months old; which was 5 years ago.

So for the past 5 years of your life, it has been completely normal to spend most weekdays with a teacher and other students.

Simply put, you were more than ready to start Kindergarten this week. I know you’re going to have a very exciting year!

It just so happened that your first day of Kindergarten was also your sister Holly’s first day at daycare.

She’s only half the age you were when you started going to preschool. There’s no doubt it’s a heavy psychological thing for a parent to drop off their baby all day, for the first time. It’s just not easy.

But I know in the end, I will see the positive benefits that come from growing up in day care and preschool.

I just look at you. You are so bright, so creative, so eager to learn, so energetic, and yet so behaved for your teachers.

So as tough as it is to see Holly go to daycare this week, I know that you turned out just fine… and are going to make the best Kindergartner I know!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: You Started Kindergarten This Week, Exactly 30 Years after I Did

dad from day one: Actor Turned Director

Twenty-nine weeks.

It took me 12 straight days to teach myself to solve the Rubik’s Cube; it was during this time that my wife and I found out we were going to have a baby.  Of course, we didn’t tell anyone until over a month later, but during my “learn to solve a Rubik’s Cube” phase, I had several people crack themselves up with this joke: “If you’ve got the time and patience to solve that thing, it’s time for you to have a kid!”  And they were right.  My instincts were making it obvious that like so many actors, the time eventually arrives when it’s time to dabble with directing.

(Cue the song “In My Life” by The Beatles as the proper soundtrack as you read the rest of this post.  It’s officially my favorite song ever.)

I can look back on my life with satisfaction, knowing that my accomplishments have outweighed my failures and regrets.  I have met all kinds of interesting people from all over the world (most of whom are facebook friends).  I understand the meaning of life.  I am solid in my beliefs on the afterlife.  I have married the woman I am meant to be with.  I can now solve the Rubik’s Cube in two minutes and twenty-five seconds.  And though this paragraph may resemble a goodbye letter to the world as I prepare for my life to come to an end like I’m 90 years old, I recognize that in some ways life as I know it will end, as it transforms into a new one.  A more meaningful one.  From “me” to “dad”.

On top of all this, I’m about a half a year away from turning 30, so yeah, I’d say it’s time for things to stop being about me so much and more about someone else.  I have been the protagonist, but soon I will become a full-time director.  All of life has prepared me to this new role.  The cynic could see it as circular reasoning- that you spend your youth learning how to become a responsible adult, and then once you do, you just do it all over again with modified little reruns of yourself running around.

But I would say the cynic is still under the assumption that life is all about him- that life either simply ends when he dies or that hopefully when he dies, he’s been “good enough to get to Heaven” or that at least Hell won’t be that bad, but instead just a big party where the temperature is slightly hotter than desired while Jimmy Buffett plays an eternal concert and the margaritas are never-ending.

If anything, I could see how raising a kid will be a redeeming and cleansing process, helping me to see how little I truly know, helping me to appreciate my family and childhood teachers more, helping me to straighten out my priorities even more, helping me to ultimately give more than I take.  I could see how this baby will ironically make me a better adult.  And how the humility of changing diapers is only a small part of this evolution of my life.

And yes, Baby Jack will probably already know how to solve a Rubik’s Cube before he gets to Kindergarten.

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com