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Sunday, May 18th, 2014
3 years, 6 months.
Last Thursday when you and I got home from school and work, I found a package on our doormat. This was odd, because aside from holidays, I never receive mail directed to me alone.
I’m okay with that, but it did surprise me. Turns out, it was a copy of the book Lessons For Joey: 100 Things I Can’t Wait To Teach My Son.
A couple of months ago, the author, RJ Licata, had asked me to write a little blurb about it to be featured on the back cover.
After creating the successful daddy blog “100 Things To Teach My Son” a while back, he recently published a book based on it.
Here’s what I said about his book:
“I think one of the most masculine things a father can do for his son is to communicate with him clearly and regularly; from the day to day to the big picture stuff. Therefore, it has been easy for me to be a fan of RJ Licata’s blog–and now his book. A good father is a good mentor. That’s why this book is special. It’s a glimpse of what hands on fatherhood looks like, fleshed out in the form of 100 lessons.”
I easily celebrate any fellow dad who publically and positively portrays fatherhood. Something I’ve learned in the 4 years of writing about you/to you is that I care less now about how the media so obviously makes dads out to be idiots.
These days, my focus is on spotlighting any entity that shares my passion of reinforcing the positive examples of fatherhood.
That’s why I mentioned him a year ago in my letter, Dads Like To Teach Life Lessons To Their Kids.
For example, I was pleasantly surprised to see the healthy relationship between the father and son the movie, About Time, that I recently wrote to you about.
It’s subtle, but it’s a big deal to me.
I read a fantastic article recently, called “Why Fatherhood Matters,” by Stephen Marche, which proclaims that fatherhood has never mattered more, as the definition of masculinity has evolved through generations:
“Only fatherhood is indisputably masculine, which is why when you ask men when they became men, they usually answer when they became a father or lost a father.”
He goes on to declare fatherhood as a marker of class.
The way I feel, this is one of the most important times to be a dad. And let’s face it… it’s also one of the coolest times to be a dad.
Fatherhood is masculine.
I just don’t see how a man can be more manly that being a good father- and by “good father,” a huge part of that is how well he communicates with his child.
To me, that is perhaps the most important aspect of being a father.
So while I could easily go on all day about all the times I’ve missed the mark in life, I can at least feel positive that I’m doing one thing right:
Communicating with you.
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Sunday, May 11th, 2014
3 years, 5 months.
Last Saturday morning after you and Mommy made Strawberry Banana Quesadillas for breakfast, which we all loved, we decided to use the creative parts of our brains by doing some artwork together.
In our closet, you discovered some colorful foam sheets to draw on with markers. Mommy and I drew some animals per your request, while you worked on abstract pictures.
After each time you finished a new work of art, you held out the newly colored foam sheet in air and announced your next creation:
“Hey Daddy, look… this is a Skittle Fan. I think it’s an animal.”
You then explained to me your intentions. You planned to make enough works of art so that you can give one to each of your friends at school. Awesome idea!
My favorite was the last one you did. You announced to me:
“Daddy, this one is a dark, sedway moon. I think I dream about these things at night.”
Dark, sedway moon… So mysterious, so profound.
What if you really do dream about dark, “sedway” moons and your artwork is actually a window to what you dream about at night?
What if your abstract dreams will predict the future of what will happen in real life? Like a prophetic dream?
What if this is the premise of a PG-13 rated psychological thriller movie starring Robert De Niro or Greg Kinnear?
I think it could be. Hollywood will be calling me soon for the movie rights… I’m sure of it.
Or maybe I’m thinking too much into it. Actually, I think I just figured it out right now as I’m typing this: Maybe “sedway” is just your way of trying to say “side of,” as in, “dark side of the moon.”
Maybe you and I should play Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon while watching The Wizard of Oz. Or at least watch the 3rd Transformers movie.
I wasn’t even for sure that you dreamt at all yet. Now I know.
You are a fascinating kid, you know that?
Just another typical Saturday morning: Strawberry banana quesadillas and dark side of the moon.
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Tuesday, May 6th, 2014
3 years, 5 months.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again:
You’re a much more daring little boy than I was at 3 years old; 30 years ago back in 1984.
Last week while test driving a Lexus IS-F for my other writing gig, you and I discovered a passageway that connects the trunk to the back set.
It’s a very small passageway, barely big enough for me to fit my head through.
We had just gotten home from school and you wanted to play in the car while Mommy started dinner.
With you in the trunk while the trunk door was open, I walked over to back seat passageway to look at you from the other side.
But in the 5 seconds it took me to get there, you had already decided to see if you could fit through the hole, and sure enough, you did. You squeezed through!
There you were, so proud of yourself for being my little proactive spelunker.
I admit, I find it quite impressive. That’s a good skill to have, right?
We learned a few days later that Mommy’s Honda Accord, as well as the Hyundai Azera we’re driving this week, have similar passageways.
(I wonder if other little 3 year-olds across America have discovered this cool trick too?)
Like a Parrothead enjoying touring all the Margaritavilles in the world, you are now making a hobby out of crawling through various car trunks to the back seat.
I’ve been supervising the whole thing each day for the past week as I let you play in the car until dinner time.
That’s what dads are for, right? It’s part of my job description to help lead you to these adventures, also known as dadventures.
There are just some things you’re going to exclusively discover and experience thanks to your daddy. This is probably one of them.
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Friday, May 2nd, 2014
3 years, 5 months.
I am attempting to create a cool new phrase in the world of parenting. See, when a father takes his daughter out for fun, it’s called a “daddy date.”
But what’s a good phrase for when a daddy takes his son out for some good one-on-one time?
I got it:
Last weekend you and I went to the zoo to check out a real red panda, so your matching stuffed animal could meet his relatives.
Meanwhile, Mommy stayed home and took care of some Spring cleaning.
However, when we arrived at the Nashville Zoo, it appeared that the red pandas were observing the Sabbath, because they were asleep in the trees.
That was no problem for us, though. Fortunately, the Nashville Zoo happens to contain one of the coolest playgrounds I’ve ever seen in my life. So we had a dadventure anyway!
You know that with me, there is no such thing as pushing you too high in the swing.
The way I see it, what fun is it for you unless I push you so high that your back is parallel to the ground, about 7 feet high in the air.
By the way, don’t be misled by the lack of a smile on your face in some of these pictures. A lot of times when it’s just you and me hanging out, we sort of space out and “think about nothing” together.
You actually said to me, “Daddy, we’re having fun right now!”
We both got a great work-out. I decided to challenge myself by not taking you in the jogging stroller; instead, I carried you the whole time, except when you were running around and playing.
As we spent quality father-son time together, we also were moving around, breathing in fresh air.
Like the animals at the zoo already know, this helps reduce stress, improves sleep quality, decreases the chance of depression, and improves the quality of learning. (See infographic below.)
It’s important that we get our special one-on-one time. I personally believe it’s important to also make sure there is some kind of edge or thrill involved, to make the event a true dadventure.
You’re a cool little boy and I’m a cool daddy, so we might as well have a good time whenever we have a chance!
How tall will your little man be?
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Thursday, May 1st, 2014
3 years, 5 months.
When I was growing up, I never minded the small town I grew up in. It was all I knew.
Life was good, easy, and comfortable. My parents did everything right.
But around the time I starting driving, I became more curious about life outside of the shared corner of Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia.
The summer before my senior year, I travelled to Ecuador. Then after I graduated high school, I went to college in Florida and Virginia; both of which took way more than 8 hours to travel to and from the house I grew up in.
I spent two of the summers in college overseas in Bangkok, Thailand; teaching English. I briefly did the same in South Korea, as well.
For a guy who sure was comfortable being raised in a small town, it was my instinct to want to go explore the world outside of safety and comfort.
I think you will be the same way. I think you will end up being an explorer of the world; at least the world outside the town you are growing up in.
Aside from that, though- after Mommy and I have “raised you,” you will leave us and start your own life. You will have the desire to become who you were to intended to be, apart from us.
I am preparing myself now for the day you will move away and figure things out on your own, like I had to do.
The way I see it, when a father does a good job of raising his son, he is rewarded by seeing his son move on to start his own life, and eventually start his own family. It seems that’s one of the ultimate rewards of being a father… as much of a paradox as that may sound.
Mommy is the nurturer, I am the mentor, and you’re the kid. Together, I know that the three of us will always have a close love for each other; but I get it that you will, in essence, need to “start over” and do this thing yourself.
Right now, these are the years when the rewards of fatherhood include cuddling with you, wrestling you, having you ask me to sing you bedtime songs, taking you to the zoo and the monster truck show… so many things each day that mean the world to me.
The undeniable irony here is that for the next 15 years or so, I will ultimately be revolving my life around you so that you can become independent enough to live your life without me being right there. I guess that’s sort of an obvious element of being a dad, but I’m thinking about it more here lately.
I don’t take for granted you are growing up so fast. After all, one day, that might actually be a real mustache on your face!
P.S. The top picture is an entry we submitted for a “selfie photo contest” for Joe Hendricks Photography!
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