Being a preschool and kindergarten teacher means that I work with a lot of kids. And I've worked with a lot of kids over the last five years who don't have a daddy in their life, don't even know who their daddy is, or only see their daddy when he decides to stop by and pick them up for a couple hours on a random weekend every few months. And you can tell a difference in those kids. They just plain need their dad. And I don't just mean they need to know who their dad is. I mean they need their daddy. Somebody who is going to invest in them, engage with them, and get down on the floor to play with them. As for me...I have the best dad. And I have taken that for granted for a long time. See, becoming a parent gives you a whole different vantage point. And if you're a parent, then you already know what I mean. I am so thankful that Henry will always have his daddy. A daddy that is so in love with and enamored with him. A daddy who has big plans for all the things they are going to do together.
Some of the best memories I have of times with my dad are times when he would play with me and my brothers. He always had time for that. When I was in elementary school, he was kinda the neighborhood dad. The dad who organized play for all the other kids who's dads were too busy, tired, or just plain uninterested. Several times my dad spray painted our entire backyard like a football field so everybody could come over and play. I think he was all-time quarterback. Or he would walk us up the block to the baseball diamond in the summertime and we'd play til dark. I remember sledding in the little green plastic sled, me in the front and dad in the back, down the little alley behind our house. That hill seemed so steep and so fast back then :) I remember Dad packing up our bikes in the van and driving to Ames for Daddy Lindsay days. We would ride around the Iowa State campus (me with my training wheels in second grade, of course) and stop at the hub for a juice box and laffy taffys. Then we'd go bowling or mini-golfing. I remember riding around on the golf cart while Dad played a round. He would let me steer the cart and eat Cheetos to my heart's content. I remember my Dad was really good at making up games, too. Like where he'd hold up his hand and we'd have to choose one finger and that finger triggered a certain response. Pointer finger was zurr-burrs and pinky was tickles. I remember me, Dad, and Brad playing wrestling match and pillow fights on my parents' bed. That's where I learned "CYMBALS!" (That's when you get hit with two pillows on both sides of your head.) And my mom would always demand we stop because "Somebody's gonna get hurt." And Brad always cried about losing the match :)
And of course there are things that my dad did for me in my more "grown up" years, too. Like when he came up to visit me on a Friday night during the fall of my freshman year of college and ended up brining me home with him for the weekend because I was painfully homesick. Or when he came up to UNI during my third year when I was going through a pretty rough time. He took me to a motel for a night just so I could get away and then helped me prepare all the food for a bridal shower I was hosting the next day. Or when he bailed me out of debt more than once because I thought a credit card with 18% interest meant only one thing: FREE SHOPPING SPREE!! Or when he sat at Panera for hours talking with Dameon and then gave his blessing for the proposal. Or when he walked me down the aisle and picked out a special song for us to dance to. Or when he gave up a perfectly good golfing day to come to Waterloo and meticulously scrape and paint the muttons of our windows so that our house could pass inspection.
Now that my dad is Henry's grandpa, I can't wait to have a new vantage point. Watching him play with my son.
The day before we went to the hospital to be induced, my dad gave me the following letter and a children's book by Billy Crystal called, "I Already Know I Love You." He had typed it in the weeks leading up to our due date when we thought our baby would be coming sometime around January 8. I asked him if I could re-type it here and he agreed. I wanted to share it because it is so very special.
Dear Baby Place (#1),
This is a very special time for me as I await your arrival in several weeks!! You see, YOU will be my FIRST GRANDCHILD!!! There are so many people looking forward to meeting you, but none more than your mom and dad, I'm sure! You will be arriving in this world shortly after Christmas. At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior...Jesus!! People like to give gifts at Christmas as a way to show they love one another, but there is no greater gift than God's love for us!! YOU are a special gift, too, as YOU were created by God! As you grow, your mommy and daddy will help you learn more about God and how important it is to follow his ways.
You're not going to believe this, but I've already seen a picture of you even though you aren't born yet! The doctor has a way of taking pictures of you while you are in your mommy's tummy and believe me....You are PERFECT!! (I don't look very good in pictures, but you sure do!) It's so much fun watching your mommy and daddy as they get ready for you!! They don't know if you are a boy or a girl, so they've been busy thinking of a special name for you and keeping that list a SECRET. No matter what name they give you, it will be special.
You are so blessed to be coming into the loving home that your mommy and daddy will provide. I know this because your mommy is a very special little girl in so many ways. You see...she was my first child. I can still remember holding her right after she was born and thinking about what a miracle she was!!! Only God could create something so perfect! She sucked her fingers backwards. (I wonder if you'll do that, too??) Your dad is pretty awesome, too! He loves your mommy A LOT and has TONS of LOVE to give you, too! I tease him about being a Hawkeye and he teases my about being a Cyclone. (I'll explain more as you get older.)
There are a couple of other special people waiting for you to arrive, too. Your Uncle Brad is a very talented musician who plays guitar and other musical instruments. He loves to write songs, too, so maybe he will one day write a song for you?? Uncle Blake is Brad's brother and can do lots of cool things, too. He is very creative and will probably be a famous inventor someday. One day he will probably teach you how to ride a unicycle or how to operate a Kool-Aid stand. :o)
I so look forward to watching you learn and grown in the world that awaits you! God has created so many beautiful things for us to enjoy together and I can't wait to watch your eyes marvel at His creations!!! One of God's special creations is your Grandma Paulette. (I'll bet you'll call her Grandma P.) She is one of the greatest treasures God has blessed me with, and I can't wait for you to meet her! I know she can't wait to hold you and cuddle with you, just as she did with your mommy when she was little. Probably no one has looked forward to the day of your birth more than Grandma P!!! She has been busy stitching you a quilt to keep you warm when she rocks you, but I know the warmth of her love for you will easily keep you warm!! :)
May God bless the times we will treasure together with you!
Yep, I have the best dad. Well, besides Henry's dad, of course.