Theo Theo do you know? That summertime is on the go! Fall Fall has come around, leaves in the wind, leaves on the ground. Theo put your jacket on when you go outside! Fall Fall is here my dear, let's go for a ride!
There is an artist who is having a show at a museum that I really like. Would you like to go see it with me one evening? The museum is called The Guggenheim and the Artist's name is Claes Oldenburg. His art is funny (that's why I like it). Also he can draw really good. Remember when I went to Washington by myself to see a show? Well now that show is here! Shall we go? Let me know!
Theo Theo Big (not small) can you tell me how (?) did you get so tall. Did you swallow a giraffe from the zoo? Did you put pants and shoes on a ladder? (and stand up on top) Did you comb your hair straight up to the sky? Did you stretch and stretch (like Stretch Armstrong) until you got so so big? -or- Did you simply eat and grow with nowhere else for your head to go - but - UP!
Could there be something in me that's also inside of you? And likewise could there be something in me that grew up out of you? It could be true - (do you feel it too?) We must be connected somehow. I'm sure we'll figure it out later, but it's a mystery for now!
You are my son. I am your dad. Nothing can ever change that. But I do not own you... You are not a "thing." I cannot make you into someone you are not. I can only love you. Whoever you are. I will always love you!
Can you believe it? Our life moves on - hour by hour - day by day - week by week - month by month - year by year. Time goes on and we go with it! Where are we going? Older? Yes. Smarter? I hope so. Happier? I hope so too. Let's have fun and learn a lot while we grow up together!
It was so nice lying in bed and reading together last night. Let's do it again soon.
I have a dream that parents will wake up and look at their children with new eyes. That they will realize how beautiful and fragile is the child's life - how it must be treated gently with love and respect to help it blossom and grow into the most beautiful garden in the world. I have a dream.
Today is Monday. Let's start the week right. Try a little more to have fun. Try a little more to learn. Try a little more to say - "I love you." Oh! And by the way - we'll also try to get a haircut.
I have another dream. I dream that my kids will grow up healthy and happy and have fun doing it. That my two kids will come to realize how lucky they are to have each other - how different they are from each other and how cool each of them are. If they do then everyone will be winners. I have a dream of watching my kids grow up and do fun and interesting things - when they do - I will smile and be happy. Like I am now!
I know I tell you "I love you" a lot. I know I do. Being a "Dad" makes me the luckiest man in the world!
Good job to get your last month's church reading done. I'm sorry I had to make you like that. Being a dad is not easy sometimes but I tell you... it's the Best Job in the World!! Just because we get upset now and then or we don't always see eye to eye doesn't mean we don't love each other. We love each other very much. Disagreeing and getting mad sometimes is part of life. Fortunately it's a small part! Have fun today!
Sometimes we all (me too I know) need to take a step back from our lives and take a good, hard look at ourselves. Are we who we want to be? Do we like what we see? Are we doing the best we can? What do we need to do to be better - to be more like we want to be?
You don't do this for your parents - for other people - you do it for yourself. You don't go to school and play sports to make me (your dad) happy - You're doing it for you! To build your life - your life habits - your life goals. If you make yourself happy - then I'm happy. It's as simple as that.
Sometimes you have to lose something before you can dig up something else. Your new tooth will be even bigger and better than your old one. Hooray!
There's many things that hurt, that sting our bodies and our feelings. Sometimes parents nudge - try to mold our lives, like kneading fudge into a mold. Is the shape they try to make right for you? Or is it fake? I was a kid, I'm a father now trying to do his best somehow. With mom, with Theo, with you. Holy cow!
Theo you're a good kid! Believe that 'cause it's true. Theo you're a smart kid! Believe that 'cause it's true. Theo you're a handsome kid! Believe that 'cause it's true. Theo you're a talented kid! Believe that 'cause it's true. Theo you're a fourth grader! Believe that 'cause it's true. Theo you're a good son - and I wouldn't trade you for all the money in the world! Believe that 'cause it's true too!
What can I say about our family? Do we all love each other like crazy? Absolutely!! Do we sometimes treat each other badly? Yes - if I'm honest I'd have to admit that. But (and there's always a "but"), that part comes from anxiety - stress - not the heart. Our world is stressful - fast-paced with a lot of expectations and causes for concern. Your poem showed me that even at 13 you are not immune to these things. But we as people - as human beings, still thrive, still persevere - still set goals and try to achieve them. We don't give up. We look and see and recognize the love around us and draw on it for support. We carry our weight when we can and we ask for help when we need it. The goal of life in the animal world is survival. But people have a higher goal than that. We want to triumph - to create - to love!
I'm your Dad! And my job is to do whatever I can for you, Joanna and your Mom. Sometimes I get to do what I want that's just for me - but most of the time taking care of my family is what I want to do. When a man has the chance to help other people he takes it. That's what a good man does. He doesn't spend his time only doing for himself. A boy who's growing up to one day be a man needs to think about that. Think of other people! Help other people! Love other people!
You're a lucky girl to have such good teachers, good friends, a fine school and loving family. A lucky girl! And I'm a lucky man to be your Dad! I love you.
Trust is so important Theo. You need to trust me and I need to trust you. When I tell you I will do something I make every effort to do it. When I ask you to do something I expect you to do it as well. In business we make contracts and sign our name to them. I say I will build something and they say they will pay me. A father and a son don't sign contracts - we each have our word and we trust each other to tell the truth and do what we say we will. Let's trust each other!! I love you so much!
You have no idea how peaceful it is to sit at the kitchen table with a candle or two burning and a cup of coffee in front of you and a pen in hand ready to write. I love getting up ahead of everyone and having that hour to myself and my thoughts. It's very helpful, meditative way to start the day. It gives me a chance to think about myself, about you and Theo and mom. And writing to you gives me another chance. A chance to connect with you - share my thoughts - my life with you. A chance to give you something of my private self. Without feedback of any kind which is a plus and a minus but hey - that's life. I love you.
Don't know why I sketched a bridge this morning? I was thinking of you and it just came out. Maybe it's an architecture connection - maybe it's a symbol of a connection to something? Like the bridge between youth and maturity that you are crossing right now. Of course if that was it, I should have drawn a much longer bridge that never really reaches the other side. The road to maturity we walk on all of our lives. It's a joy to walk it with you! I love you so much!
When my dad died almost 26 years ago now, my mom had one of those cards printed that say "In loving memory of..." on the back and a quote or picture of a Saint on the front. Well the front she chose had this quote entitled "Take Time" and it's about just that - to take time in your life for the things that are important and some of them are good - "Take time to think - It is the source of power! Take time to be friendly - It is the road to happiness! Take time to play - It is the secret of perpetual youth! Take time to laugh - It is the music of the soul! Take time to work - It is the price of success! Take time to Love and be Loved - It is a God-given privilege" (and the greatest single idea of Christianity - I added that). I always liked the message of that card - you have to take time to think about your life and how you're living it or else it will be so busy and pass by so fast you'll be surprised. At 14 it seems like it will last forever but it won't. It seems like there will always be tomorrow but there won't. Do your best every day. Make the days count. I love you so much!
It was fun to go up to the Met with you Saturday. I know it was work for you but I was glad that you had the kind of work to do that took you to a place like that. A place filled with the results of all that is good about the human race - all the struggle to achieve something wonderful that's never been seen before and to share it with so many thousands of people every day. My knowledge about art and artists is not random. I've been moved by art and the stories of the artists who make it all my life - at least from about 19 on. Find something to love! I love you so much.
I'm a fortunate man, born to two people who loved each other very much. I was surrounded with brothers and sisters and lots of love and support. Now I'm just trying to do the best job I can by loving the woman I chose (and who chose me) and the two children that we were blessed to have. Your mom, Joanna and you mean the world to me and I try to do the right thing for you every moment, every day of my life. What is "the right thing?" Well, besides money, a roof over your head, clothes on your back and food in your belly, I'm trying to help you make the right choices for yourself and help prepare you for the road ahead. I can help you as much as you'll let me. I can give but I cannot make you accept my offering. That's all you Theo. Own your dreams. Pick up the ball and run with it. I love you so much!
Seemed so far away (college I mean) so long ago when you were born (born to change my world). Born to be your world. Born to live and discover yourself - others - love - fear - right - wrong. An empty slate at one time (were you ever really "empty"?) So much character, style, laughter, caring and love. Look in the mirror - what do you see? Do you see the newborn babygirl? Do you see the newborn college student? Do you see a young woman on her way?
I don't know, maybe you weren't expecting a note on Beach Day, but I was walking around the neighborhood with Sunny this morning and noticing all the broken branches (even a whole fallen tree) and I was thinking of you. I think about you a lot. I remember my own high school years and I have to say that I didn't have half the motivation and the dreams that you do. You've developed ideas and plans that are your own and I'm so proud of you. We'll work together this summer and I'm excited by that. I'll help you anyway I can and anyway you'll let me. Have fun today and wear sunscreen (I couldn't help but remind you).
You never stop being a daughter or a son. Even after your parents are gone and you're long on your own. The legacy stays with you. The things they taught you more by their example than their words. You find yourself in the same boat with your new family looking back to when the shoe was on the other foot and you were a kid. The other night in Peer, a boy asked how come we (as parents) don't want our kids to do the same things, experiment with drugs, alcohol and sex, that we did when we were there age? Well because we love you, that's why. That's really the simple, honest answer. And one day, 20 years from now, 30 years from now, you might find yourself responsible for me or mom. Just try your best to treat us with the same love we have always and forever given you.
Balancing love, pride, concern and frustration - that's what being a father is. I'm always bouncing back and forth between those feelings (and more), sometimes more than one of them at a time. What to do? How to make love always come out on top? Always just love you and Joanna for who you are, and not worry about whether or not you're all you could be - all I want you to be? Is that the way? I believe that at the end of the day that is the key. I have to push and prod and hope and dream and help out along the way, but in the end I ultimately just have to give you my unconditional love. You got it Theo! But it doesn't mean I won't tell you when I think you're making a mistake.