Time flies, when you’re turning two!

28 Aug

Arlo James,

Two years ago today, my life completely changed.

Before you were born, I was your mom’s husband. Before that, I was her boyfriend. Before that, a struggling entrepreneur. Before that I was a snowboard bum. Before that stage in my life, I was a college student with no clue what I wanted to do with my life after I graduated. Before that I was an aimless high school student, and before that, I was your grandparents baby boy.

I threw fits, I begged for toys, I tattled on my sisters, I made mistakes, questioned every decision I made, tried and failed, tried and succeeded, got lost, found my way, got lost again, partied too much, regretted it the next morning, got a job I hated, then one I liked,  lost that job, married your mom, got another job, and then before I knew it, we had you. And just like that, the entire world, and everyone in it looked different to me.

I still pout from time to time and make mistakes. And I’m still unsure of some of the decisions I make… I am after all, just a guy.

I know one day you’ll read this, and depending on what age you are, that last sentence might strike you as somewhat of a shocker. When we’re kids, parents seem like these amazing, all-knowing, all-powerful people. But the truth is, I wasn’t a kid that long ago. In fact, at this point in my life, I’ve technically been a kid for longer than I’ve been an adult.

And as for being a parent? Out of my 35 years on the planet, I only have two years of experience. In the grand scheme of things, that’s nothing. But in reality, these have been the best, most rewarding years of my life. And, in that short period of time, according to you, I’ve already learned to heal any wound you have with the touch of my lips, so I’d say I’m off to a pretty amazing start.

I won’t be able to fix every problem you have, or answer all of life’s mysteries for you, but I can promise you that I’ll always be there for you, no matter what.

Happy Birthday, my handsome little man! I love you so unbelievably much!

Love,

Dad

8-28-14

My a worker

22 Aug

Hello my little worker man,

One of the most amazing parts about you getting older, is watching your interests grow. A few months ago, construction equipment and the people who operated them were merely observations in your life, while now they’re a borderline obsession.

It all started when our neighbor’s were having their roof repaired in the spring. We pointed out the workers on the roof, and explained what they were doing. Shortly after, you began pointing out workers on road-side construction crews, spotting them by their orange vests and hard hats.

One day, when you asked why you had to go to daycare, I informed you it was because your mom and I were actually workers, too, and that one day, you would also be a worker. To which you replied, “A b-ball worker!”

But now it seems you’ve traded in your dreams of the NBA for the chance to operate a bulldozer or a digger. Now that you’re interested in diggers and bulldozers, you seem very driven to become a construction worker. Since you currently refer to yourself as “My”, in conversation, we quite often hear you saying, “My a worker! My drive a dump truck! My got a digger!”

You hover on the pages of any books that feature construction equipment, and cherish the few books we have that exclusively focus on work sites. One day I even chased down a bulldozer with you as it traveled through our neighborhood, in order to find where it was working. Since then, your mom, and both sets of grandparents have spent a great deal of time watching the construction crews replace the sewer pipes in our neighborhood.

The site was a bit loud and frightening at first, but now you’re a huge fan, and even prefer to watch “the workers,” as you affectionately call them, over going to the park. You wave to them and excitedly provide play-by-play commentary, “Oh! A ladder! That worker’s got a shovel! Hi worker! Digger dump dirt into the dump truck!”

I’m not sure where this obsession came from, but at this point it’s so genuine, that if it continues, I’m not sure how we’ll be able to avoid buying you an actual bulldozer for your 16th Birthday.

My love you, little man!

Dad

8-22-14

Avoiding the “terrible twos”

28 Jul

Hello Mr. Arlo,

We’re just a month away from you entering into the stage of life most commonly known as “the terrible twos.” While you have not turned terrible, you have become much more intense. But looking ahead at the changes you’re bound to go through, I’m choosing to find the positive side of this situation.

It has become more apparent than ever before that you really know what you want. A few months ago, when we decided to take bottles out of your routine and replace them with cups of milk, you had no problem letting me know you found this change to be completely unacceptable. Way to stand up for your beliefs!

For the first hour you were awake, you lobbied for a bottle, declaring over and over your disdain for milk out of cups. This carried on each morning for nearly a week—way to be persistent! Eventually you forgot all about bottles, and now you’re completely content with drinking out of a big-boy cup. Already learning the art of compromise!

While you’re now fine with cups, your persistence, and belief that you know what is best for you, has not wavered in the least. While you still enjoy story time each night, you have an internal list of who is allowed to reach which book. One night I’m allowed to read certain books—which you’ll hand to me and ask, “Talk? Talk? Read Daddy?”— while the next time you may try and banish me from the room for even thinking of reading any of the books I picked out. No one will ever say you’re not assertive!

Each book has a routine. If a character jumps, yells, or stands on their head, you have to do the same. If someone in a book has hurt feelings or gets a scrape, you have to kiss the character several times and hug the book. Empathy is a great quality to have!

You’re also more into music than ever. Salad bowls are now your personal drum kit, guitar strumming has taken on a punk-like feel, and songs are invented and sung on a daily basis, “Up the ladder, down the slide, weeee, so fun! Tsh, Tsh!” We have the baboon song, the Arlo song, and songs that don’t exist, but you still request. “Sing the boom-boom song, Daddy. Sing it now?” As so I make it up on the spot. Looks like you’re already trying to inspire others!

Each day you’re able to articulate your thoughts a little more clearly, and while sometimes these come across as commands, you quickly clean them up into sweet requests. “Read more books!” you’ll say with a scowl. Then your eyes soften, and your voice sweetens up, “Please, Daddy? Just a few more books? Please?”

I’m continually amazed by you, and I know that will ever stop; regardless of what stage you’re in, and what changes it brings.


I love you so much,

Dad

7-28-14

A lot to learn…

28 Jul

Dear Elliott,

You’re a little less than two months away from meeting your makers, and we couldn’t be more excited. You’re mom has entered into the nesting phase. We’re cleaning, running errands, painting rooms… This morning I opened Arlo’s drawer and discovered it had been reorganized to include some of your clothes.

Your mom loves shopping for you. Nearly every weekend she walks to one of the resale shops and searches for onesies, pajamas, or other cute clothes.

This weekend, friends of ours gave us some bags of clothes their daughter had grown out of. It was interesting, digging through the piles of clothes, trying to figure out which dresses you would like, or wouldn’t. Will you even like dresses? What colors will you like?

We’re at an odd place, right now. We know your name, we’ve got clothes for you, we’ve bought you diapers and wipes, and even a stroller big enough for you and your brother… but we don’t really know anything about you.

Well, one thing for sure. Based on what we’ve seen in ultrasounds, and from what your mom can feel, you’re going to be really active! But besides that, we don’t know much else. I can’t wait to put a personality and face with the name!

So looking forward to meeting you, my little baby girl!


Love,

Dad

7-28-14

Name your path

30 May

Dear Elliott Mae,

When trying to think of girl names, your mom and I were unable to come up with many choices to choose from, and even fewer that both of us could agree upon. Then one day your mom asked, “what about Elliott, for a girl?”

I instantly loved it, and it was pretty clear at that moment that we had landed on your name. Although we are not the first parents to take a name that is traditionally thought of as a “boy name,” and pick it for their daughter, it still seems like you don’t hear it very often. The other night I was convinced—that because I thought it was such a fitting name for a little girl—that it must be getting extremely popular, so I googled it.

What I found, was the wrath of people with too much free time on their hands. I found post after post of people raging about how Elliott is a masculine boy’s name and how people had no right to use it as a girl’s name. People were openly shamming mother’s who said they were naming their daughter’s Elliott. People demanded the mothers choose Ella, or Elle, or some other name that was more feminine, and thus a more fitting name for a little girl. 

I momentarily doubted our decision to name you Elliott. But then I realized, these are the same types of people who think you’re destined to live your life in a pink tutu, playing with dolls, and biding your time until you marry Prince Charming, just because you were born a girl. But let me assure you, that’s not the case, unless that’s what you want out of your life. 

You can wear, play, and date whomever or whatever you like. It’s your life, and although people will have strong opinions about how you should live it, especially because you’re a girl, it does not mean that you have to listen to them. Just look around at the amazing women in your life, especially your mom. When we started dating she was training for an mixed martial arts fight, she’s literally one of the strongest people I know, and she trains men how to box—these are not characteristics that are often thought of as “girly,” but it’s what she wants to do, so she does it, and it’s part of what makes her so amazing.

Being born a girl, and growing up into a woman, does not put you on any particular path, or mean any part of your life is predetermined. The only thing it means, in fact, is that you are our daughter, and that we’ll always love you, no matter what.

I hope you love your name as much as we love you! I love you so much, and I can’t wait to meet you,

Dad

5-30-14

 

If you teach a kid to tell fish stories… 

29 May

Arlo,

As you’ll quickly discover, I am a story teller. Your mom routinely classifies all of my stories as exaggerations, but the art of storytelling some times requires massaging the facts just a bit to ensure your listener is entertained. 

I grew up around some of the very best story tellers in the world—here I am exaggerating again—and I think its safe to say their trade rubbed off on me. I’m virtually incapable of telling even the most basic story without slightly fabricating certain elements for comedic relief—mainly my own. 

It appears I’ve now gone ahead and passed this trait on to you. You’re three months away from being two years old, and yet you’ve been speaking complete sentences for many months. While this is no exaggeration, most of your sentences are… 

You love doing dishes, mainly because you can splash in the water. But ever since I showed you how to scrub a pan, you’ll pick up the sponge, and in a deep voice, sounding as if you’re nearly out of breath, you’ll say, “Too hard,” as you scrub the pan. 

This voice has become the calling card of your exaggerations. Anytime you’re stretching the truth, your tale is told in this out of breath, deep, raspy voice. 

The other night, while your mom and I were eating dinner, we heard a loud crash as a group of mixing bowls and pans were pulled from the cupboard. You’re mom went in to find you sitting among the devastation, and asked, “Who did this?” You responded, “It happened.” What “It” was, you never clarified. 

As you approach two, your scrapes and bumps are just a little more severe than the identically injuries were just a few months ago. Owies now emit ghost pains for days after an accident. Conveniently, this usually happens during story time, and you use these excruciating injuries to score kisses from your mom, in place of ointment or medication.  

Everything has also become “Big!” Nothing you talk about is small. Big dirt, big bike, big helmet, big toast… A few weeks ago at daycare, while you were getting your diaper changed, you grabbed your business, and in your best story telling voice, you called out, “Big penis!”

I love listening to your stories, and I can’t wait to hear how they evolve as you make your way through life. I’m not exaggerating when I say this, but to me, you’re truly the most entertaining story teller I’ve ever met in my entire life. 

Love,

Dad

5-29-14

 

Girly Time

7 May

Hello my little baby girl, 

The verdict is in—as I’m sure you’re surely aware—you’re a girl! Although we both stated we didn’t care what we were having, we were both pretty excited to find out you are a girl. 

Arlo knew it all along, and now that he knows for sure, he’s intent on naming you, “Baby Helmet.” It was something he muttered a few weeks ago when I asked him about names, but he’s now adamant that is what you should be called. He’s been busy getting himself ready for your arrival. Daycare said he recently became very interested in all the babies, and has been very gentle and sweet with them. The other day when I went to pick him up, all of the other kids were running around playing, while he was sitting in a stroller next to a baby. 

“Oh no,” I said. “Is Alro in baby jail?”

“No,” they responded. “Lately he just wants to sit next to all the babies.” 

This is very different than last month, when it wasn’t abnormal to find him quarantined off from the other kids because he was shoving. 

Your mom has also begun preparing for your arrival. I returned home from a business trip last week to find a stack of cute girl clothes sitting on the table. Something tells me she’s very excited to dress you in something other than T-shirts with bears on them; which is all your brother wants to wear. 

I, on the other hand, am preparing to be the father of a baby girl. Don’t worry, I’m not preparing the stereotypical way, by saying, “I’m going to buy a gun,” or “She’s never going to date.” I’m just wrapping my head around the fact that soon I’ll have two children.

From what we’ve seen so far, little girls tend to be a bit easier than little boys. While Arlo’s girl friends are sitting and taking in the things around them, he’s typically running in circles or seeing how far he can throw anything in his vicinity. So when the nurse told us to make room in our home for a baby girl, I began to think that maybe life as we know it wouldn’t change too much.

But as the ultra sound carried on, the nurse commented a few times on how active you were. Every time she attempted to measure you, you’d squirm or wiggle yourself out of position. Based on the family you’re being born into, this type of behavior is par for the course, and I should’ve known a calm baby was never in the cards. 

Right now I feel like I’m in the calm before a storm. Your brother is just getting to the stage where he’s easy to put down for naps and bed times, and meals don’t require nearly as much clean up time, from him throwing food. But pretty soon you’re going to arrive on the scene like a wrecking ball, and just as Arlo did, you’ll ensure that life as we know it is shattered. But I honestly can’t wait, and I’m truly excited to see what it looks like once your Mom and I have the chance to piece it back together again.  

We can’t wait to meet you, my darling little girl!

Love,
Dad

5-7-14

 

 

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