Dads Are Weird Car Passengers

3 years, 6 months.

Dear Jack,

Yesterday on my business road trip from Franklin, TN to Murray, KY, I was a passenger for a total round trip of over 5 hours.

Seriously, I was in culture shock.

Please understand why…

Since you were born 3 and a half years ago, I have been driving you to and from school every single day. On the weekends, I drive the both you and Mommy around.

For all our road trips, to Louisville, KY, to Atlanta, GA, to my hometown in Fort Payne, AL, it’s me that’s driving; I’m never the passenger.

It’s even rare for me to be driving in a car by myself. There’s always someone for me to entertain and/or take care of.

So for me to be a passenger for over 5 hours yesterday, just sitting in the back seat… man, it was weird!

I read for a little while, I texted Mommy, I texted my friend Jarred, I took a little nap; but ultimately, the experience somehow made me feel lazy- like I was evading my role.

It’s just that I am wired to be the driver, the navigator, the one who is ultimately in charge.

I am wired for responsibility. But as a passenger in a vehicle, it felt sort of wrong; like how in my letter to you yesterday I explained that it felt wrong not seeing you all day long.

This morning, I drove you to school as usual. It was as if everything were back to normal.

I answered your questions about why dark clouds mean it’s probably going to rain and explained how the sun dries up the rain once the sun comes back out again.

As I drove you, I taught you. That’s what I do. That’s part of the dynamics of our father-son relationship.

What I don’t do is just watch the telephone poles go by as a classic 90s hit comes on the radio.

We can drive it home, with one headlight…





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Today Just Felt Wrong Without You

3 years, 6 months.

Dear Jack,

For me, this was a weird day. I had to leave early this morning for a business trip in Kentucky.

So instead of taking you to and from school, I was across the state line. By the time I got home, you were already asleep.

My only interaction with you was saying goodbye to you at the front door.

While that may not seem like such a big deal, it is for me.

Today just felt wrong without you.

I feel kind of sad. I feel kind of wrong. I mean, I had to go for work- so I did what I was supposed to.

And I know I’ll see you in a few hours when we both wake up. But seriously, not seeing you for a day is just plain odd.

My day went great. It was very productive. I got a whole lot done. But I was aware the whole time that something was missing- it was you.

Since you’re only 3 and a half and are obviously way too young for a cell phone, it’s not like I could text you to say I miss you or even call you to a donkey noise to make you laugh.

So I settled for Mommy promising me that she would tell you good night from me as she put you to bed.

It only makes sense that if research shows that kids make men happy, as the infographic below explains, that I would be less happy when I’m not around you for a day.

I believe it. I have been psychologically conditioned to associate feeling happy and fulfilled with having interaction with you.

Without that, I’m like an actor on stage who suddenly forgot his lines. I’m staring into the blinding spotlight, trying to find you in the audience.





Infographic courtesy of Happify:

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Raising Jumpin’ Jack Flash, The BASE Jumper

3 years, 6 months.

Dear Jack,

Ever since you took that gymnastics class a few months ago, you’ve made a habit of looking for things to jump off of, like a BASE jumper.

That’s right- you learned to jump, as funny has that sounds. And now, it’s something you take very seriously.

When we stayed at the hotel for the Wizard World Atlanta Comic Con recently, you were very excited to see there was an ottoman in front of the sofa.

Needless to say, you knew just what to do…

When you weren’t using Hungry Hungry Hippos as a toy, you were being Jumpin’ Jack Flash!

A recent new tradition you and I started is that every night when it’s time for you to go upstairs with Mommy to take your bath, I take a break from doing the dishes and give you a piggy back ride to your room.

Then, I throw you onto your bed.

For the next couple of minutes after that, you jump off the bed onto the carpet, only to have me throw you back on the bed.

Your face slams into the bedspread and pillows. You love it.

Convenient for the sake of you continuing this roughhousing with me, is the fact you have never gotten hurt doing any of this.

This whole time, I’ve never had to put up a baby gate on our stairway. You have always had a reverent fear of the stairs- which is part of why you like to ride on my shoulders while going up them.

But despite your new love of BASE jumping, you have no desire to try jumping down the stairs.

You know that if you get hurt jumping, or while I throw you on the bed, that you probably wouldn’t get to have this much fun.

Smart kid, you are.





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How Does Your Organic, Non-GMO Garden Grow?

3 years, 6 months.

Dear Jack,

While it’s no secret that our family of three has been serving as advocates of the plant-based lifestyle for a couple of years now, what I haven’t mentioned is that for the past several months, my side of the family has been fiercely transitioning to plant-based life as well.

Your Papa (my dad) and your Auntie Dana (my sister) have basically been vegans since last Fall.

By default, the other family members have ended up finding themselves in this peculiar alternative lifestyle as well.

Even since Christmas when we spent several days there in Alabama with them visiting, there was no meat or eggs served in any of the food.

Two weeks ago when we visited everyone for your cousin’s birthday, Nonna (my mom) proudly showed us her new garden. Yes, the seeds are organic and non-GMO. And the fertilizer is simple, classic horse manure.

You even got to help plant some cucumbers. Nonna texted me a picture yesterday of them sprouting of the dirt. How cool is it going to be when we visit the family later and eat those cucumbers, knowing you were the one who planted them?

One of the ongoing themes you’ve probably noticed, when I write about food, is the importance of questioning where your food comes from.

As for the vegetables and fruits we will eat when we visit family, we’ll know for sure where our food came from.

I should point out that you and I, along with Spiderman, helped water the soil around the garden.

Your “Uncle Owl” (my Uncle Al) had bought you a Spiderman sprinkler last summer that you decided you wanted to play with.

So basically, you assigned me to be brave enough to jump over it and run around it.

Then when you saw how cool it was for me to do it, you did the same. Nothing like getting wet by the Spiderman-themed garden hose sprinkler while wearing your pajamas.

We are now a part of our family’s organic, non-GMO garden. But how does it grow?

With love, water, and horse manure.





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Standing On The Shoulders Of “Baby Giants”

3 years, 6 months.

Dear Jack,

It is so interesting to see your artwork in this sort of transition stage, as your skills are maturing and your concepts of art are becoming more realized.

As I walked into your class last Tuesday to pick you up from school, you were working on a drawing.

I insisted you finish it before we left.

Naturally, I asked, “Wow, Jack, are those people?”

You replied in a sort of matter of fact manner, “No, they’re giants. And that one in the middle is a baby giant.”

Seriously, I love that creativity.

Eventually, the “giants” you will draw will have bodies to connect to their legs, instead of just having their legs connect to their chins.

And one day, your giants will have mouths too; not just two little eyes mysteriously peeping out.

As for now, though, these are your giants. I’m assuming that had these been people instead of giants, they would have much shorter legs; even shorter that the baby giant’s.

You really blew me away with another recent picture you drew at school, too:

I had to ask your teacher to make sure you didn’t have any help with this one of a fish.

Honestly, I’m not sure that I could have drawn one as detailed as this. And you didn’t have a picture to mimic, either. I’m guessing you just remember seeing it at the pet store a few weeks ago.

You’re starting to give me this idea where I write a children’s book and you illustrate it.

Before long, I think that idea could really get off the ground.

You keep doing what you’re doing and I’ll keep doing what I’m doing… and let’s just see where it takes us.

We might end up making an alright father-son writer-illustrator team…





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