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Dear Son: Foreshadowed School Daze


--- 2 Years and 90 Days ---

Dear Son,

Your dad is a nerd. I'm sure you've come to realize that by now (assuming at the writing of this that I haven't suddenly changed), but yes, this is the case. I like books. I like debates. I like knowledge. I like writing (obviously). And, I like thinking through many of life's challenging topics through various lenses - especially pertaining to people, sociology, and everything that makes us, us. 

As a young boy, I was instantly met with this reputation as I was the kid who always did well in school. And truthfully, early in my grade years, I was very competitive with my grades. It was one of the reasons I skipped an entire grade. So yeah, total nerd. 

But don't be fooled, I wasn't immediately wired this way. It was more so a construction, coaching, and building of this understanding that knowledge and education should be sought and pursued. It's a never-ending chase. 

Your Ga-Ga (what you call your grandmother at the time of this penning) always pushed critical thinking. Whether I realized it, wanted to do it or appreciated it, all of us "under her roof" were expected to have thoughts on current events (why? - you had to be ready to answer that questions); you better have read her latest "book of the summer"; and poor grades on report cards?  Well, luckily, I don't think we ever had to cross that bridge. 

There were times I thought my mom was being annoying, but in the later years of high school, and especially in college, the light bulb went off on exactly what she was doing - and did. I read books by Richard Wright and James Baldwin, I consumed penned letters and speeches by Dr. King seldom discussed by many, and had the occasional "wacko" reading like Charlotte's Web - she wanted me to understand readings of more than the white perspective always learned in America's public schools, and also, as she put it, "more than Shakespeare." 

Mom had a role in my education. Dad too, as he was definitely the "Really, tell me why?" guy at the dinner table. 

Both of them were invested in our school's PTA groups and encouraged us to have opinions and back them up. 

Neither of them had a formal education past High School. 

---

This past week, your daycare had "daddy appreciation" day, and as practiced the day before with your teachers, you presented me with donuts and orange juice - despite your reluctance to give me the donuts. 

The past six months are a time we'll likely never forget. Six months of stay-at-home measures during a pandemic that shut down the world. Your mother and I were not only nervous about the external world but about your growth and development. We made it a mission that every day, you would have some time to learn something - anything. 

There were plenty of frustrating days where we weren't sure we were accomplishing this very broad goal. But of course, upon going back to daycare, you went back able to count, knowing all of your colors, and filled with random words and sayings - including yes, saying "balllllinnnn" complete with shooting hand gesture. 

I'll take credit for that. 

But as you handed me my orange juice - in that very moment, I was instantly swept away to all of the PTA meetings, parent-teacher nights, and various school activities that my parents - both so tired from their full-time jobs, at-home duties, and efforts to give back to the family home in St. Vincent - attended willingly and enthusiastically.

I think of all the involvement and supporting work I have ahead of me, and really, I can't wait to be invested. In an environment where the education of tomorrow's youth is being politicized regardless of truth, historic lens, or perspective truth, my responsibility to you, your education, your knowledge base, and how you think in the world to come is just as important. 

I have so many books set aside for you, so many of those same speeches and letters and probably more I'll come across by the time you're ready for all of this to begin. I can't wait to also ask you "Why" at the dinner table - whether you agree with me or not. 

As I write this, in perfect timing for an ending to this post, you came over:

You: Daddeeee. Cars Twee! **pointing at the TV - referencing wanting to watch Pixar's Cars 3** 

Me: Cars 3? You want to watch Cars 3? 

You: **Now smiling and shaking your head fervently in how this conversation is progressing your way**

Me: Why do you want to watch Cars 3?

You: (awkward stare - with a slight smile)

Me: Why do you want to watch Cars 3?

You: Daddeee. Cars Twee! 

We'll work on that. 

Love, Dad. 

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