Martin, Music & Change

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Dear Lewis,

As you grow up, one of your heroes should absolutely be Martin Luther King Jr. You’re going to hear a lot of white people like me say that, especially this time of year, but I promise you I mean it. When you’re old enough, we’ll read and discuss his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” (you can thank your Uncle Josh for making me read the letter for the first time). We’ll listen to his sermon  “But If Not“, and then talk about the difference between what he calls If Faith and Though Faith.

But first, we’ll probably talk about the importance music played in the March on Washington, where Dr. King gave his legendary “I Have a Dream” speech.

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Mommy, Garbage and Jesus

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Dear Lewis,

You and I had a great time hanging out while mommy was at work today. We ate breakfast with our shirts off, we fixed the tires on your stroller, and we wrestled until we were so exhausted we had to take a nap. When we got up from our nap we continued the party until mommy walked through the door.

We were playing with blocks and cars and stuffed monsters, having a blast, when mommy opened the door. The moment you heard her call, “Luigi! Where are you, love? I need kisses!” you left me in your dust.

You literally tossed your Ugly Doll aside, climbed over the blocks and cars, and crawled as fast as you could to mommy.

I wasn’t hurt; I was moved.

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I Am Your Shield

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Dear Lewis,

It was warmer today than it’s been in weeks. Your mom and I bundled you in warm PJs, a coat and beanie, and then wrapped you in a blanket before going for a walk on this beautiful, yet still cold day.

As we turned the corner on our way home from our two hour walk I noticed something strange at the end of our block. Someone’s sprinklers were running, in late November. The sprinklers were set in the park strip near the curb, drenching the grass and sidewalk. The yard in front of the house was steep, rising several feet on the house side of the sidewalk.

In short: we were trapped. We couldn’t traverse the slope of the front yard with you in your stroller. And we couldn’t walk in the street to get around the sprinklers in the park strip. There was only one choice; follow the sidewalk, through the gauntlet of water and cold November wind.

We devised a plan. Your mom would push your stroller while I would run along side it, blocking the water with my body to prevent you from getting wet.

We assumed our positions. In the most melodramatic voice possible I counted down: “3…2…1…GO!”

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Why Every Father Should Be Scared To Pray

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Dear Lewis,

This world is a dangerous place. Every second people are being killed in wars, uprisings, riots, and over stupid things – like energy drinks.

Before you were born your mom and I asked the question: “Do we really want to bring a child into this world?” I’m sure my parents had the same fears, and their parents before them.

Now comes the hard part. Now comes the part where I tell you why, in spite of the state of the world, we decided to have kids:

We believe you can change the world.

I’m not patronizing you, Lewis. This isn’t some pie-in-the-sky platitude. This is the most terrifying confession of my life.

This is why I’m scared to pray.

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My New Passenger

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Dear Lewis,

It took me almost 30 years to figure out who I am and how I best operate. That changed when I got married. It changed even more when I became your dad.

I’m a night owl. You’ve made me an early bird. I don’t function without a pot of coffee’s caffeine. I don’t remember the last time I finished a whole cup. The list goes on.

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We’re Good, Because I Love You

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Dear Lewis,

Tonight you pooped like you were trying to qualify for an Olympic event. It broke through your diaper, seeped through your clothes, stained the changing pad, and covered my hand. It took 11 wipes to get you clean. That’s a record for you. Congratulations.

The restaurant where we went to pick up burritos was packed. Your mom and I, and judging by their faces, the people in line around us, smelled something awful. I immediately recognized your scent, and dashed out to the car to change you.

You massacred that diaper. I’ve never seen anything so disgusting in all my life. I don’t know how I kept from puking.

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I’m Working On It

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Dear Lewis,

I love you, very much. But your life would be so much easier if you would just trust me. I know you need to eat every few hours. I know when you need a nap. I know you need to be changed when the blue line appears on the front of your diaper, or when smells, awful smells, emanate from the back.

I don’t get mad at you for crying over these things. I tell you I love you. I tell you I know how long it’s been since your last bottle or diaper change. I tell you that if you’ll just be patient and stop crying you’ll see I’m working on it.

But you don’t. When I walk out of the living room and into the kitchen – to make your bottle – you cry harder. When I put you in your crib – to keep you safe while I wash my hands, get a diaper and find you some new clothes – you scream louder.

Those moments when it looks like I’m abandoning you, that’s when I’m closest to giving you what you need.

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What Have You Done?

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Dear Lewis,

From the moment I got home tonight you’ve been asleep. I made dinner, went to the store for your mom, and then read a few chapters of Princess Academy. Meanwhile, you haven’t done a thing.

You haven’t made a cute face to make me smile. You haven’t gripped my finger and warmed my heart. You haven’t done anything for me today. You’ve never done anything for me. You’ve only ever taken: taken my sleep, my time, my energy, my money, my patience, and even my wife.

But still, I love you.

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