What I Learned From Playtime

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Dear Lewis,

Recently you’ve begun to do something that fills my heart with more joy than it’s ever known: you play with me. For a month or two you’ve seemed to recognize my voice. But now you actually sit and play with me, crawling over me, swatting at my hands, even laughing and smiling when we play peek-a-boo.

I find myself doing ridiculous things to entertain and interact with you. I make strange faces, funny noises, and, my favorite, crawl toward you like an army man. I speak in oscillating tones, repeat phrases over and over again, and slap my hands against the ground just like you.

We roll around together, crawl toward mommy together, and even sometimes take naps together. Playing with you is exhausting, but never boring. Sometimes I can’t believe the stuff I do, the sounds I make, and especially the funny positions I find myself in when playing with you.

But I love every second of it.

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Choose Your Friends Wisely

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Dear Lewis,

You’re going to make a lot of mistakes throughout your life. Some will simply embarrass you. Others will get you into serious trouble. And there will come a day when a mistake gets you hurt.

You’ll be able to bounce back from most of your mistakes. If you find the book you’re reading to be horribly written, you can put it down. If you choose the wrong college, you can switch. If you take a job because it pays well, only to discover the company’s business practices are unethical, you can quit.

Lewis, there’s one mistake you can’t afford to make: choosing the wrong friends. And if you need an example of what true friends should be like, look at Merry and Pippin.

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10 Reasons I Want My Son To Be Like Bilbo

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Dear Lewis,

I love the Lord of the Rings. I mean I truly, honestly, in the nerdiest way possible, love it. The fact that I have to prevent myself from saying, “That’s like the part in Lord of the Rings where…” in every conversation is why your mother doesn’t worry about other women trying to take me home when I go to the bar without her.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read the books. Yet, every time I do, I discover something new, something wonderful, something life changing. It’s a part of who I am. It’s shaped the way I think and the way I view the world.

It’s even shaped the way I parent.

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What I Learned From Tarzan’s Dad

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Dear Lewis,

This morning, you took a giant step toward becoming a man: you watched the 1999 Disney movie Tarzan. As the movie played, we played. We wrestled, rode your tiger Wheely Bug, built towering edifices of letter-embossed blocks, and, when our stomachs growled, we ate chicken and beef while not wearing shirts.

In short, we behaved like men.

By the time the credits began to roll, and Phil Collins sang his final song, you were exhausted. You, my fierce jungle man, laid your head across my lap, and sucked on your pacifier. As I stroked your hair I replayed the movie in my head. The storyteller in me identified the movie’s theme, the story beats and plot points.

However, the dad in me zeroed in on the lesson learned by Tarzan’s father figure, Kerchak the gorilla.

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It Was The Best Of Times, It Was The Worst Of Times

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Dear Lewis,

Yesterday you embarked on an epic adventure. You left the apartment around 9:30am and walked 8 blocks to the train stop. As you rode along, you watched the world around you with wide-eyed wonder. Your first time on the train you rode the rails like a pro. Two trains, one transfer, and forty minutes later you arrived at the airport.

But your adventure had only just begun.

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Your Normal Isn’t Normal: A Letter From James Kennison

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Lewis,

Your dad asked me a while back to write you a letter. My immediate thought was “NO!” What could I say to a baby I’ve never even met that would mean anything? Your Dad hardly listened to me in his youth… why would you?

The tone of these letters are always very deep and serious. They’re life-altering and they speak to all of us. Your Dad is an awesome man for not only writing his thoughts to you, but sharing them with the rest of us. Part of the reason I didn’t want to write was because of the great amount of respect I have for your Dad’s project… the other part is because I know there’s a big chance that you’ll take this all for granted.

I imagine you’re around 16 to 17 years old. You’re on the threshold of the rest of your life and it’s time to read through these letters full of hope, passion, struggles, lessons and truth. Maybe you’ve read some previously… but now you’re of age and they’re really starting to make sense.

But here’s the thing I worry about… this is normal for you.

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Aunt Niki & Uncle Dago’s Wedding

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Dear Lewis,

You partied so hard at Uncle Dago and Aunt Niki’s wedding last night. You owned the dance floor. You and I kicked the party off, and then you and your mom danced; then you and Jacqueline; then you and Aunt Niki. You danced with so many people I lost track. You stayed until the end of the night, until security shut us down!

It wasn’t just last night, though. With the exception of kayaking, you were part of everything this week, including the bonfire at Bonita Cove. You partied hard all week with Aunt Niki and Uncle Dago!

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Forgive Your Father: A Letter From Matt Ham

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Lewis,

I’m writing this letter asking you to forgive your father. I understand this may seem brash, but I believe it needs to be said. Because there may not be one thing in particular, I’m writing about the generalization that most sons, in some way, hold some level of contempt toward their father. Now I’ve never met your dad, but from what I can tell, he is a fantastic man. So this isn’t a particular knock against him; rather a mindset I’m encouraging you to embrace.

You see, Lewis, often this contempt is mild, and contempt may even be a strong word. It could be the simple fact that your father was a great athlete and those genes seemed to have skipped your generation. Alternatively, it could be that your father is an extremely hard worker, laboring with his hands, whereas you’re a teacher, a thinker.

In these cases, remember, you are your father’s son; you’re not your father.

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Wise Men Know How To Relax

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Dear Lewis,

I’m exhausted. I’m tired from lack of sleep. I’m drained from giving every once of energy to what I love.

Sadly, I’m not talking about you. I’m not talking about your mom. I could spin it and say it’s for God. But, who am I kidding?

I’m tired because I don’t know how to stop.

Lewis, I’m a driven, dedicated person. If you take after me be prepared for some inherent flaws:

– The inability to relax.

– When you try to relax all you can think about is how this time could be used “productively,” which leads to anxiety.

– Never being satisfied with yesterday’s success.

– Scared to get out of bed today because you think there’s no way to outdo yesterday’s success.

And on and on the list goes.

The dangerous thing is it’s all so easy to justify.

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