William,

Holy cow! You are done with first grade. It feels like just yesterday you were starting kindergarten and I was bawling my eyes out. This has been such a great year for you that I don’t even know where to begin.

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I think this picture defines your year in first grade. Grown-up yet still a kid. So much has changed about you over this year that each and every day you do or say something that makes me pause and wonder, “did he really just say that?”

I say that in a good way. Let’s take your reading for example. You are the child who will pick up a book and read it for hours on end. For a while there, I thought that maybe you were just looking at the pictures, then I started to get your reading assignments from school and we quickly found out that you are reading at a much higher grade level than first grade. It was then I realized that maybe you really are able to read that chapter book you picked up the other day to read.

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Then we can take a look at your spelling test. An area in which I failed you many times over this year. With everything else going on this year between finding a job, mom changing jobs, the daily grind of making dinner for the family, all while keeping your brother entertained made it difficult to help you study for your spelling test. But, I shouldn’t have expected anything less from you every week that you would bring it home, only to get an A on the test, even if we had only studied the words once that week.

I don’t know if you realize what is going on when I drop you off at school in the mornings. In between my diatribes about how people don’t know how to properly use the drop-off line, we talk about how your day is going to go. We talk about your friends and there might have been a time or two when you happen to mention that you have a girlfriend. Even though you won’t tell me who it is, I think I have a pretty good idea and I will just say that I approve of her. We have a tradition though every morning when you get out of the car, we give each other a high five, I tell you to be good that day and I say I love you.

Watching you mature over this past year has been one of the areas I’m proud of you the most. I wish that I was able to remember some of the phrases that you would say after dropping some knowledge on old mom and dad, but I’m getting up there in age according to you. It messes with my memory… again according to you. While there is still the frustration that there are times that you do not listen to your mom and dad, you are starting to listen more, which is key. You are starting to understand that there are consequences for your actions, whether it is not doing well on your homework or not doing your chores. While you might be frustrated when we tell you that you can not watch TV until you do something, you understand why.

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Where I am most proud of you though is watching you be the big brother you are. You know that your brother Joseph watches your each and every move and you are such a positive influence on him. You take the time to play with him, sit down and watch his TV shows with him and read to him. There are of course times when you do act like brothers and you get annoyed because you want to do something other than what he wants to do but that is just something that brothers do. I smile so much when I see the two of you playing together and that you are teaching your brother to do so many things.

Oh, going back to our tradition in the mornings when I drop you off. You might not even realize it but after I tell you that I love you, you tell me I love you too. This is one something I don’t want you to stop telling me, and more importantly your mother. You tell us this each and every night and it means so much to us. Please, don’t stop this. I know at some point, telling your parents that you love them won’t be the “cool” thing to do, and for a while you will probably stop telling us that you love us. But, if there is one thing you are teaching me every morning is that I should my parents that I love them.

I can’t really explain why I stopped telling her I love her, but this is the main reason I want you to keep telling us that you love us. I don’t want you to do what I have done and stopped telling my parents that I love them. Every day that you tell both your mother and me that you love us, is that constant reminder that I need to tell my parents the same thing, that I love them, just like you love them, your brother, and your entire family.

You see, as you wrap up your first-grade year, you are teaching me more that I am teaching you. You probably don’t even realize it, but you are. Don’t stop… please, don’t stop.

Love,
Dad

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