Dear Jack: You Have Your 1st Speaking Part in a Play, Because You Volunteered for It

8 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack,

I’ve been telling you all week how proud I am of you for volunteering to have a speaking part in your upcoming play at school. Two students from every class in 2nd grade will have a speaking part in the play.

This is your line:

“Our first song is ‘Top of the Music to You’; in this song, we live about the orchestra, which consists of four instrument families: woodwinds, brass, strings, and percussion.”

As your parent, I never know how seriously you let my life advice soak in. But for the past couple of months now, I have been telling you what an advantage it is to be the boy in your class who jumps at the chance to participate in a play. It builds confidence and provides opportunities in life; so I have learned. (This is coming from a dad who has been on national TV, of course.)

I explained that typically in elementary school, boys are afraid to get up in front of people and have a speaking part.

But not you. You volunteered and you got the part!

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Jack: The Giant Slingshot at Your Cousin’s 6th Birthday Party

6 years, 7 months.

Dear Jack,

Last weekend, our family traveled to Fort Payne, Alabama; which is 2 hours and 40 minutes away. It would be a slightly longer drive, but we make no pit stops since Mommy and I refuse to stop along the way once both you and your sister are asleep.

It was your cousin Calla’s 6th birthday party… and it was a big one!

Your Uncle Andrew and Aunt Dana got a huge “jumpy house” for the backyard. I’ve never seen one that big for a private birthday party. It even had a slide!

But at least for you, the main attraction was the humongous slingshot that Papa and Uncle Andrew had built to launch water balloons.

Apparently, the object was to land the water balloon into the small plastic wading pool on the other side of the yard.

However, you were the only boy at the party. So it only makes sense that it didn’t take too long for a new goal to present itself…

You decided to make yourself a human target for the launching.

That’s right: Who can hit Jack with a water balloon, using this giant slingshot?

It was that event that made it obvious you were the only boy there at the party. Granted, you had no issues feeling out of place. I’m not sure that you even noticed you were the only boy.

But once you made yourself the human target on there for the giant slingshot, it was almost the equivalent of someone bringing a puppy to the party.

It was sort of like having a Labrador retriever running around the party. As if someone should have said, “Hey, why is that dog running around here?!”

My guess is, those little girls didn’t mind the opportunity to try to blast a boy their own age with a water balloon, with the help of a giant sling shot.

Yeah, it’s so obvious you’re a boy.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: I Experience Guilt for Not Being Able to Spend as Much Time with You Right Now

6 years.

Dear Jack: I Experience Guilt for Not Being Able to Spend as Much Time with You Right Now

Dear Jack,

Once we got back from our Thanksgiving trip to Nonna and Papa’s in Alabama, as we were walking through the front door of our house, I put my arm around your shoulder and said, “You did so good on the trip. I am really proud of you.”

As I was saying those words, it’s like it hit me all at once: You were so independent. You didn’t really need me for much the whole time. I didn’t have to worry about you.

Though I was in the same house as you, and often the same room, you and I were interacting with other family members instead of each other; compared to the norm.

So you and I didn’t really have much quality time together, though we did with other members of the family who we don’t see as often.

We did the right thing. After all, the holidays is for catching up with people you don’t see as often.

Yet, I suppose I still somehow experienced some guilt over it. Because as we settled back in after Thanksgiving, I realized how much of my time is required by your sister Holly.

For me to be a good husband and good parent, I have to be holding a baby most of the time we are all together at the house. While I am proud to take care of your sister, I recognize that the days of you and I just being able to hang out anytime are sort of on hold for right now.

Before your sister was born, we could just easily run upstairs and watch a stupid movie together or go outside for a hike.

But these days, my mobility is greatly restricted by me taking care of your sister while Mommy concentrates on the majority of the housework; like cooking and laundry.

I miss our time together. Things will eventually get back closer to how they were before. But honestly, I think it will be another 5 months or so, when your sister turns a year old.

You’re such a good kid. I don’t want to miss out on truly living every minute I can with you.

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: We Went Mountain Climbin’, Trench Jumpin’, and Muddin’

5 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack: We Went Mountain Climbin’, Trench Jumpin’, and Muddin’

Dear Jack,

You are I are Southerners; born and bred. We are rough, tough, and dangerous. So while Mommy buys groceries on Saturday mornings, you and I go look for trouble… I mean, adventure.

Dear Jack: We Went Mountain Climbin’, Trench Jumpin’, and Muddin’

Dear Jack: We Went Mountain Climbin’, Trench Jumpin’, and Muddin’

This past Saturday we decided to climb some mountains around our neighborhood. Both of these “mountains” were technically large piles of dirt that had been pushed in piles while the neighborhoods were being developed.

Dear Jack: We Went Mountain Climbin’, Trench Jumpin’, and Muddin’

I actually filmed some webisodes of my show Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Forest on them…

As I mentioned last week, when you and I get together, we are always dangerous… we just don’t get hurt.

Dear Jack: We Went Mountain Climbin’, Trench Jumpin’, and Muddin’

Dear Jack: We Went Mountain Climbin’, Trench Jumpin’, and Muddin’

On our way up the mountains, which were very steep, I let you lead the way- so if you stumbled and fell, I could catch you.That’s exactly what happened at one point.

Dear Jack: We Went Mountain Climbin’, Trench Jumpin’, and Muddin’

Dear Jack: We Went Mountain Climbin’, Trench Jumpin’, and Muddin’

And on the way down the mountains, I led the way- again, I could catch you if you started sliding.

We noticed there was a 3 or 4 foot deep trench that was dug out leading up to the base of one of the mountains. You immediately decided it was in your best interest as an explorer to jump across this trench, back and forth as we journeyed.

Dear Jack: We Went Mountain Climbin’, Trench Jumpin’, and Muddin’

I was very surprised at your ability to jump across these wide trenches. You are quite agile!

Dear Jack: We Went Mountain Climbin’, Trench Jumpin’, and Muddin’

After a couple hours of traversing across the unpredictable landscape of suburban Tennessee, we decided to finish off the morning by throwing rocks into a huge mud puddle in the parking lot next to where I parked my Honda Element.

Dear Jack: We Went Mountain Climbin’, Trench Jumpin’, and Muddin’

When I asked you what your favorite part of the morning was, you replied, “What we’re doing right now.”

I took that as a compliment. Despite the high-octane excursions we had just encountered, you could appreciate the time we just stood there next to each other, throwing gravels into water, watching the mud stir up in the water like storm clouds.

Dear Jack: We Went Mountain Climbin’, Trench Jumpin’, and Muddin’

But you had one more idea in mind before we left to go back home and help Mommy unpack the groceries from Sprouts:

“Daddy, can we drive through that puddle?”

My dependable and paid-off 2004 Honda Element with 155,000 miles and a salvaged title is only worth $500 at this point. So I figured, what’s the worst that could happen?

The answer: just the need for a car wash.

And that, ended up truly being your favorite part of our morning together.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: We Went Mountain Climbin’, Trench Jumpin’, and Muddin’

Dear Jack: Exploring Other People’s Backyards, Technically

5 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack: Exploring Other People’s Backyards, Technically

Dear Jack,

Last weekend you and I came up with a fun way to welcome in the warmer weather. I grabbed one of your bath toys from when you were a toddler and we headed out to the same creek we explored a couple of months ago during the blizzard.

The plan was simple: Drop the turtle into the creek and see how far we could follow it.

Because of the recent rain, there was plenty of current to carry your turtle along without much delay. It even made it all the way through a storm drain. I had thought for certain you and I would have to creep in there and rescue it; but no, not at all.

Dear Jack: Exploring Other People’s Backyards, Technically

Good thing you were wearing your Spiderman rain boots, by the way.

I couldn’t help but sort of notice, the further we went along, that we were technically in between two backyards at all times.

Dear Jack: Exploring Other People’s Backyards, Technically

The creek apparently serves as the divider between backyards on two parallel streets. Hopefully I was right in my thinking that us walking right alongside the creek, we weren’t actually in anyone’s backyard, no matter which side of the creek we were on.

No one came out and stopped us, at least.

Dear Jack: Exploring Other People’s Backyards, Technically

The coolest part was when the streets began veering away from each other into a “Y” formation, causing there to be a patch of woods in the middle. It was there that we discovered a really cool tree house!

That was about the place where the creek sort of faded into the woods. By that time, we needed to meet Mommy back at the house for dinner.

Dear Jack: Exploring Other People’s Backyards, Technically

So the next day on Sunday, I drove you two or three neighborhoods away, in an attempt to pick up right where we left off from the day before.

Dear Jack: Exploring Other People’s Backyards, Technically

We indeed found the creek, but more importantly, we found an entire flooded field; which was again, technically in was people’s backyards, but not quite.

Dear Jack: Exploring Other People’s Backyards, Technically

You enjoyed poking a stick into mole holes as well as jumping into the puddles. It’s amazing what interesting things you can find in your own backyard… or someone else’s!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Exploring Other People’s Backyards, Technically

Dear Holly or Logan: Why I Think You are a Girl

13 weeks.

Dear Holly or Logan: I Think You are a Girl

Dear Holly or Logan,

Within two months, everyone in the free world will know whether you are a boy or a girl. But until then, it’s all educated speculation.

From the very beginning, I have confidently told Mommy that you are a girl. Here’s why:

With your brother Jack, it was like Mommy virtually had no pregnancy symptoms other than leg cramps, which we later figured out was because she needed to eat more bananas, which contained the magnesium and calcium she was needing in her diet.

But with you, Mommy is constantly nauseas.

The only relief is when she is asleep. Even though you can’t tell from looking at Mommy that she is pregnant, I am definitely aware because she is constantly feeling either really hungry or like she ate way too much; no matter how little or much she eats.

In other words, her pregnancy with Jack was a boy pregnancy. Now, I believe, Mommy is encountering a girl pregnancy.

Either way, these are all signs of healthy life inside of Mommy, so as much as it’s tough to know she’s feeling uncomfortable, it gives me peace knowing you are alive and well inside of her tummy. That is a blessing itself that I don’t take for granted.

As much as I would love another boy, I feel it could very easily be my fate to have a daughter.

Mommy and I taught 5th grade Sunday School for the past year. And while I loved interacting with the boys, there was something special about getting to know those girls that gave me a glimpse of what it would be like to have my own daughter.

It revealed to me a place in my heart to where I was able to see why parenting and mentoring a little girl would be a rewarding experience.

We’ll know the week after Thanksgiving. We can continue this conversation then.

Love,

Daddy