Congratulations, buddy. You've sucked me into writing a sappy pre-school graduation letter. And be not mistaken, pal, nothing is sappier. Only a few years ago I'd have been willing to wager my second born son - that's you by the way - that I would never write one. I guess it's a good thing for both of us I didn't find any takers for that bet.
Things change though. Just yesterday I had a couple of babies running around our house. School days felt decades away. Today, though, you graduate pre-school and suddenly the decades have dwindled to mere months before those babies will be sharing the hallways of the same elementary school.
Yea, I hear you. You're not much for this serious stuff and you're wondering what the big deal is. Me too. It's probably just sentimental. You're talking about a dad who never really cared for the idea of having babies. Then your mom started handing them out as Christmas presents and eventually gave me a pair of them. (In case you're wondering, she didn't didn't wrap them.) The most bizarre thing happened after I received them, though. I liked them. A lot. I discovered babies make very cool gifts.
Between me and you, Ian, there's always been something a little unique about your cool. I go with unique in a letter to you. If I were to write one of my close friends I'd call your cool scarier than trying to outrun a herd of bulls in Pamplona. My friends would understand too - they knew me. All I'd have to do is tell them about that familiar glimmer of excitement that burns perpetually in the corner of your right eye, the one that lights the way for each next adventure, even if it involves a little mischief, and they'd get my fear. Like a father gets a son they'd get it.
I've tried hard to deny that I see me in you. Lately, though, I've conceded that point and have turned to pretending the me in you won't find as much trouble in school as the me in me found. But before I get too deep into pretending, or worrying, I'm reminded of how my mistakes have molded who I am today. That doesn't necessarily bring me a lot of comfort, but sometimes you just have to settle for perspective while you wait for comfort to arrive.
Sometime when I think of you I hear the echoes of my great-grandmother calling me ornery. But I know she'd find the same sweetness in you she used to squeeze out of me every time she got a hold of me. I love that you see the world as a playground and not a battlefield, and that you believe everyone on that playground should have a chance to play. Sometimes I think we should all have a little glimmer in the corner of our right eye.
And maybe all of this isn't about being sentimental. Some of it's recognizing that as you start kindergarten and learn more, you'll be measuring more of the world you learn about by what you see in me. I confess, some days that makes the pressure of your little eyes feel weightier than a simple observation should feel. But I knew this day would come, when life would get more serious than setting trash cans on fire in the boys bathroom - please don't regard that as a confession, Mr. Fenton. And right now, life doesn't get more serious than the example I feel I owe boys longing to become men.
I don't know, all I can do is follow the advice I'll give you as you go from pre-school to school and from school to work and work to wife and to wife giving you babies for Christmas. Follow God pal. He'll lead, you follow.
Sure, every once in a while take a look at me. I don't know if you'll see me getting it right. Part of me doesn't care, as long as you see even a glimpse of how much I love you.
I'm glad you're my boy.
P.S. - One other small piece of advice. Your mother is busy and won't respond well to frequent calls into the principal's office. I'll do everything I can to soften the blow, but it's my experience dads are fairly useless in that regard, if they have any interest at all in taking on that assignment.