When I first found out I was going to be a father, I started writing letters to the baby, wanting to share with our future child the joy and excitement I was feeling for their impending arrival. I had so many thoughts about parenting I wanted to share and made sure I wrote to our baby once a week. But once you were born, Arlo, spending time with you became a much higher priority. And just as I was getting the hang of my new roll, we added you, Elliott, into the mix.
Writing these letters is still enjoyable, and I often wonder what you’ll think of them. Will you find them corny, or sweet? Probably a bit of both, and rightfully so. Lately, I’ve fallen behind on writing to you, but it hasn’t completely fallen off my radar. I constantly send myself emails and texts of funny things you’ve said, so I don’t forget.
For example, Arlo, you’ve become a big fan of our mailman, and you call out to him every time you see him, “Awe, you’re so cuuuute! I love you.”
Or you’ll introduce yourself as Dan, and me as Arlo, and then you crack up. At one point you introduced your Mom and me as “Dan and Molly.” The people responded, “Nice, you’re Dad and Mom?” Thinking you had actaully said, “Dad and Mom.” You immediately corrected her, “No, his name is Dan, and they call her Molly Sparkman.”
You have a goal of being able to wink at me without having to cover one of your eyes by the time you turn five. I think you believe it will help with your joke delivery, since I wink at you to let you know when I’m teasing or trying to be funny. You have some hilarious knock, knock jokes, and when you want to tell me a funny story, you’ll ofter start with, “Dad! Oh. My. Gosh! You’ll never believe…” You’re also the only four-year-old I know who uses the word, “Literally” a lot. “Dad, I literally have to go to pee.” At least you literally use the word correctly more than most adults I know.
We recently had your parent-teacher conferences and they raved about story telling capabilities. They said your vocabulary was amazing for your age, you have great eye-contact when talking to people, you were learning to talk with an indoor voice, and you love to sing songs and rhyme a lot. You’re also learning about people’s comfort zones, and when it’s okay to hug people. All great things.
You’re also very sweet. You came up with the idea on your own to give your Halloween candy to people without a home. You said, “I’m going to go up to their door and knock, and when they open up, I’ll give them my candy. So tell me when you see a tent.” A few days later you called out, “Look, a house for sale, the homeless people can live there!”
Elliott, you’re constantly cracking me up these days. You have this little inflection at the end of your sentences that makes you sound perpetually inquisitive and happy at the same time. You’re constantly asking me if you can help me, or feed me, or if it’s okay for you to climb or crawl on whatever is you’ve already climbed or crawled on. “Can I do this, Dada? Is this okay?”
The other day you talked to me about my eating habits, “Not too much in your mouth, one at a time, Dada.” Then shoving a pretzel in my mouth, you added, “Here, I licked the salt off this for you.”
Even when you’re grumpy or throwing a fit, you can often be talked out of it. “That’s enough Elliott,” I’ll say. To which you’ll respond, “Okaaaaay.” You’re also unbelievably polite for you age, sharing your toys with Arlo whenever he asks, and always saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ without having to be prompted.
“Elliott, do you need to go to the bathroom?”
“No tank you,” you’ll respond, in a tone that makes it crystal clear you’re trying your absolute hardest not to drop a deuce.
Although most of the time you’re sweet as can be, you did turn two since I last wrote, and have developed a bit of an attitude. Lately, you’ll walk around with a glass of water and just spit mouthfuls of on the floor. When I take the glass away, you say in the most adorably bratty voice, “That’s my water! I no like you Dada. I no like you!”
You usually apologize later that evening or the next morning. You’ll pat my beard and say, “I sowwy I say, ‘I no like you Dada. I sowwy.’”
You’re also become incredibly active… Your Mom has a hilarious impression of you trying to sit still during story time, which includes jumping on the couch, crawling across the end table, and then repeatedly launching yourself against the reader, all while holding multiple pacies and a cup of milk.
Your pacies are very important to you, especially the “lellow” one, which is green. You literally go to sleep with one pacie in your mouth, and three to four in your hands.
At dinner or in the car, you’ll all of sudden make a random noise, like, “Ccdrrrrkkkkkk. Hahahahahahahahah.” Then you’ll call out, “Your turn. You do that Dada, do ‘Ccdrrrrkkkkkk. Hahahahahahahahah.’” And when I do, you loose your tiny little mind, thrash your head back and forth and cracking up.
These letters are little time capsules for our family. At times I’ll read through the older ones I’ve written and smile at the cute things you used to say or do. I’ll laugh about the different stages of bedtime we’ve gone through over the years… the swaddles, the rocking, the crying it out, the stories, the jumping out of cribs, the move to big kid beds, the coming down stairs and crawling on top of me in the middle of the night, the putting you back in bed and falling asleep with you… I want to remember it all.
But in the end, the only thing that matters is what kind of people we raise you to be. Right now you’re both funny, caring, well-spoken kids who speak your minds but are still willing to say you’re sorry (although at times this takes some prompting or the threat of losing a book at bedtime). At this point, what more could a Dad ask for?