The Great American School Experience: Hide In The Closet, Stay Quiet, and Hope Not To Die

They were still bagging up bodies at Stoneman Douglas High School when my 9 year old daughter told me her plan.

“We would hide in the closet.”

“Really? That’s all?”

“Yes, teacher told us that if there is an intruder we are to hide in the closet and stay quiet.”

I didn’t tell her that that plan wouldn’t work. I didn’t tell her if an intruder powered into her school, the first place they would look would be in the closets. No matter how quiet she was.

I also didn’t tell her that, intruder, is too advanced of a word for a 4th grader.

Intruder is a 7th grade word saved for learning about Cesar, the Roman Empire and barbarian migration.

As a parent and a teacher myself, I go to work scared now.

Today, in America, students and teachers pack their lunches, zip their school bags, go to school and die. They’re shot stepping off the bus, eating their Peanut Butter & Jelly, spinning their locker dial, and hiding quietly in closets like they were told.

In April of 1999, when I was 19, I sat in my Pennsylvania living room, watching students sprint out the double-doors of Columbine High School, across the green Colorado grass as police officers stood behind trees with leveled shotguns.

I, like most of America, was naive then. We believed that the massacre at Columbine High School was an isolated incident. An aberration. Two angry boys who slipped through the metaphorical cracks and found an armory of guns.

We said prayers, held hands and vigils and went back to school shaken but confident a tragedy like Columbine would never happen again.

It couldn’t. This was America.

Original artwork by Haley Armstrong

On Tuesday morning a student entered my classroom and announced there was another school shooting–the 17th school shooting in the first 11 weeks of 2018.

“Mr. Armstrong, did you know America now averages 1.5 school shooting a week?”

The closet in my daughter’s classroom is a long, narrow closet in the back of the room where the students hang their coats on little hooks and place their lunch bags on wooden shelves.

The closet has two doorways framed in white yet both are without doors. There’s no furniture inside the closets to hide behind. No bulletproof vests hanging from those little hooks. No trapdoors that drop the fourth graders into an underground tunnel system that mazes through the earth and branches into lite hallways that leads each child safely back to their bedrooms, leaving the booted intruder locked and loaded in an empty closet.

“Can you believe that Mr. Armstrong? Another school shooting.”

My daughter’s name is Haley. Cindy and I picked out the name months before she was born.  There was no debating. No coin flips. Our daughter would be forever Haley. And that was that.

Cindy was in labor with Haley for 16 hours. At one point the doctor peeked over Cindy’s knees and remarked how she refuses come out, “as if she’s hiding.”

As if, even before she was born, she was preparing for life in the American school system.

I cleared my throat, “Do you know where the shooting happened?”

“Somewhere in Maryland I think.”

“You think?”

“I’m sure. It was in Maryland.”

These are hard moments. Every time I learn about another school shooting I recoil and shake my head as if to say this is sad. This is so fucking sad.

What happened to the great American school experience that so many of us knew and enjoyed?

The one where you went to school and lived. The one where you pledge allegiance to a flag that you believed would protect you.

With all these dead children in the news, sometimes I feel guilty thinking about my daughter sitting at her desk, alive.

Right now she’s in math class–her favorite class. The teacher calls attention and spins and writes a multiplication problem on the board and challenges the class to solve it in under 30 seconds.

Haley flashes a smile. A smile that’s missing teeth but is unmistakably hers.

She tucks her blonde hair behind her ears and lets her pencil work the problem in her notebook.

The sun slants through the classroom windows on a fine American morning.

It’s spring outside. And a pair of eager yellow daffodils have pushed through the mulch outside her classroom and sway in the cool breeze.

And inside the classroom it’s warm and encouraging and my daughter is smiling. My daughter is alive and learning.

The way the great American school experience should be–always and forever.

Be well,

Jay

How to Save a Marriage

The following post is the final entry of the The February Project: Love and Marriage, a self-imposed month long writing project on love and marriage.

“After all the romance and celestial promises of the initial courtship, love becomes a lifetime of small moments that add up to make something enormous.” from Taking Notes: A Love Story


It was romantic as hell.

We were finally alone on a beach house front porch.

The sun was rolling away from us and the sky made grand commitments to the pinks and oranges that stroke only finest of summer evenings.

My wife sat across from me. I took her hand.

The kids were somewhere inside, doing God knows what.

It was quiet, just the two of us and the distant break of the Atlantic Ocean along the soft New Jersey sands.

I admitted I don’t say “I love you” enough. I told her she deserves to hear it more. Eight years of marriage, three children later and I promised that I would tell her I love her everyday, for the rest of our lives.

We held a look long enough to vaguely remember what life was like before children until one of them threw open the screen door and complained about something someone was doing  inside.

We both said we would be right there and the child waited, then stomped, turned, and disappeared. This was our vacation. Our moment. The rolling sea, the tender sky. There was no need to rush. It was a scene that unfurled on the silver screen of our imaginations when we 16 years old and first began to conjure up a life together.

Like any new resolution, I was all in– with energy and verve and boyish enthusiasm. I planned out how I would do it, slip it casually into a conversation or let her believe I had forgotten about my promise only to surprise her with an “I love you” as she was falling asleep.

And for a few weeks I was true to my promise.

But, at some point I missed a day. Not that I didn’t love my wife anymore, I just failed to think of someone other than myself.

And as promises go–failing to keep them one day, made it easier to forget about them the next.

Until one day my wife confronted me half joking, half serious, ” Why did I stop saying, I love you? Do you not love me anymore?”

I stuttered and stumbled.

I said I was sorry and promised, from here on out I would say, “I love you” everyday for the rest of our lives.

And so as I did for a more few days. And then, as promises go…

Original artwork by Haley Armstrong

My parents are cruising into their 40th year of marriage.

I say cruising because they make marriage look effortless. Like a joyride. A Sunday afternoon cruise with the top down and the radio up.

The key to their marriage is a little ritual they’ve engaged in every evening, when one of them returns home from work.

After a long day, when they’re finally reunited, no matter the condition of the household, now matter the company sitting at the kitchen table– the first thing they do is kiss.

A moment to recognize each other. A moment that is just theirs. A moment to honor their relationship

It’s such an amazing moment, especially considering the anarchy of weekday nights when the kids squeal about the house, when dinner boils on the stove and the phone is ringing and work is emailing and there’s a mouse loose in the pantry and the bills spew across the kitchen table.

Life, and all of its obligations, demands so much attention that sometimes you forget you’re married.

Days pile on to days.

The chores and responsibilities mount.

There’s only enough time to breath and react and the thought of thinking about someone else is simply too much.

So marriage makes strangers out of us.

Our spouse becomes a coworker, one who we occasionally bump into at the copy machine or the coffee pot. Things get awkward. There’s a head nod, then a slight smile before you retreat to your own business.

How do we avoid such fate? Like you’re always commuting from one draining job to the next.

My parents proved it starts with simple, sincere acknowledgement. They did it, and continue to do it, with a kiss.

They proved that marriage only works when you’re willing to connect and invest your attention in the smallest of moments.

I tried saying, “I love you” to my wife everyday and failed. Failed to create a daily moment each was just ours.

Why?

Because it’s hard. Because it takes real endurance, real commitment to honor your marriage everyday. Because sometimes I take marriage for granted.

In the throes of life, when life is not romantic as hell, the health of a marriage hinges on those little, private moments that you create for one another. It’s in those moments where you reconnect, rediscover each other all over again.

40 years of marriage proves so.

Be well.

Jay

I don’t think my daughter believes in Santa Claus anymore

Christmas morning is a great moment in parenting history.

The excitement. The smiles. Your children jumping and dancing and rejoicing because Santa Claus is real and he was really listening to their wishes and he was really watching as them clean their room, share their toys and muscle down broccoli all year long.

There’s wrapping paper strewn across the living room and the children are playing with their new toys. The fireplace is glowing and Frank Sinatra reminds you to have a merry little Christmas. Cinnamon buns rise in the over and hot chocolate rings your mug and you ease back into your favorite chair and smile as the moment unwraps itself before you.

Christmas morning, 2016

Then those children grow up.

They go to school and learn about things like distance and time. They learn about other countries and cultures. They study maps and spin globes. They realize there’s a lot of other kids in the world. They begin to privately  question the realness of a jolly old man and his high-flying reindeer.

And then one day some kid, usually one with an older sibling, confirms that the low voices coming from the living on Christmas Eve were in fact their parents spitting curse words while turning Allen wretches late into the night.

Haley is 9.

She reads Girls World magazine. She likes shopping at Justice, being lazy, has a pair of Unicorn slippers and finds her younger brothers to be mostly annoying, always disgusting.

Sometimes when she sings Ed Sheeran songs or explains the pH levels of solids I don’t recognize her. Sometimes when I hear her sing or talk and I’m sucker punched by time.

For the last few weeks her questions about Santa Claus have grown in both intensity and specifics. How does Santa fit all the toys in one bag? Since Santa only comes at night, how does he have time to visit all the kids in the world? And recently…Why does our new Elf on the Shelf have a tag hanging from her? Did you and mommy buy her at the store?

This is our Elf on the Shelf— Jesse. And yes, someone forgot to remove the tags.

Cindy and I know Haley’s belief is wavering. We may not want to accept the truth — but we know this is going to be her last Christmas of believing in Santa Claus.

She’s growing up. She’s starting to understanding matters of life. And that’s when the real parental work begins — teaching your children to believe when it seems there’s nothing to believe in.

What became of your belief in Santa Claus, is what became of your relationship with things like love and friendship. Once the initial magic of those things vanished — reality surfaced. And it was terrifying. You were experiencing the world in a rawer, more corporal way then ever before. You knew from this point on, your beliefs would be poked and prodded and on some days, ripped to shreds. And the act of believing, which was once so natural when you were a child, was now subjected to hard, daily practice.

When you learn the truth about Santa Claus, you learn a lot about life. When magic gives way to reality you feel disappointed, cheated and maybe little sad. But you’re young. You’ll recover. You just happened to learn a fundamental lesson of self-preservation— that in your moment of disbelief you still need to find a reason to believe.

Be well,

Jay

How to Persevere Like a 4 Year Old

Total Read Time: 4 minutes

THE MONKEY BARS. The playground’s proving ground. The callouser of hands. The skinner of knees.

A horizontal symbol of strength, of perseverance. Conquered by only big kids.

On a sun-splashed day, my wife and I take our 3 kids to a local park.

When the kids find the playground, our youngest, Dylan rushes to the monkey bars.

He stands underneath, looking up (the littlest one is always looking up), sizing up the bars with his big blue eyes. His little head swirling with possibilities, willing to disregard his physical safety to answer his own little “What if’s…?”

Dylan shouts, “Hey mom, dad watch!”

Cindy and I plant ourselves, across the playground, on a stone bench anchored in some shade.

Like a little gymnast, Dylan stands on the platform and eyes up the bars.

A buzzer sounds in his head and with both hands Dylan grabs the first rung and pulls his feet from the platform. He dangles. And dangles.

And dangles.

Feeling the fullness of his own weight for the first time.

Valiantly, he tries to muscle his right arm forward but the distance between rungs is too great and he crashes to the ground.

Cindy and I let out that familiar parental gasp.  But before we could push ourselves from our seats Dylan unknots himself, springs to his feet,”I’m ok!” and dashes back on the platform. Unfazed. Determined.

Cindy and I sit down and find our breaths.

They don’t know it, but these children are fantastic teachers. Little daredevils who remind you about the power of perseverance.

And if you’re struggling, questioning your limits (and let’s be honest…who isn’t) observe children discover their abilities, their potential, their unflinching desire to persevere, to answer the “What if…?” and you’ll be humbled.

Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat. –F. Scott Fitzgerald

Begin with the End in Mind

Dylan is standing on platform again, staring down the length of the monkey bars. It’s only 6 feet, but in his eyes it must look like crossing the Grand Canyon.

How quickly do we think about falling before our feet leave the platform? How quickly does doubt extinguish our fires of victory?

Skin Your Knees, Callous Your Hands

Dylan divorces the platform. Unafraid to skin his knees, to callous his hands.

He dangles with nothing but his soft, little kid arms holding his weight. His right hand moves forward. His left hand remains. In the space and time when he’s dandling by one hand, I’m sure he feels the strain, the familiar flash of human doubt, but his right hand finds the next rung, followed by his left.

Leaving doubt and fear behind on the previous rung.

How many times have we skirted a challenge for fear we might get hurt? For fear, that the risk wouldn’t be worth the reward?

Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go. –William Feather

Keep Your Enthusiasm

Rung by rung, Dylan moves forward. It’s hard and it hurts but he’s smiling. He feels his own momentum. He feels the tide of achievement. He understands he’s on the verge of doing something he’s never done.

He’s happy.

Why is enthusiasm so hard for adults to find? 

Crush Your Threshold

One rung remains.

He’s dangling by both arms. His body like a soft pendulum, swinging back and forth.  His arms are screaming. He’s at his limits. Then, somehow, his right arm pushes forward, and grabs the next rung.

Why is it that the older we get, the more unwilling we are to cross our thresholds? Why do we see thresholds as roadblocks instead of doorways into a new world?

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
— Confucius

Go the Distance

When Dylan’s feet hit the platform at the end of the monkey bars he smiles, throws his hands in the air and shouts’ “I did it!”

It’s the pure joy of accomplishment. He stands on the platform and looks back at the monkey bars he just crossed.

Cindy and I are clapping. We’re the only ones, in the whole playground, clapping.

And that’s all Dylan needs.

My 4 Year Old Teaches Me About Perseverance

A writer’s life is not for the faint of heart.

There have been plenty of moments, after I’ve poured my blood into a piece, convinced it was my finest work, sure to be liked and shared and explode across the internet only to have it published– not with a bang but a whimper. 

And if I’m still being honest, there have been many late nights sitting at my table, glassy-eyed, staring at the computer, dandling on the rung of doubt. Questioning myself. Why am I doing this? Is anyone really going to read this? Why aren’t I in bed already? What if I fail?

But on a perfect summer afternoon I witnessed my son, a 4 year old boy, strain under his own body weight.

I witnessed him persevere.

He taught me that the strain is our greatest teacher.

And I was humbled.

May you always stay committed to your goals. Because your commitment, your perseverance is another person’s motivation.

May you always have the strength to keep moving forward.

May you always persevere.

Be well,

Jay

May 22, 2017 (or the day the universe reminded me to get over myself)

Sometimes things happen that convince you there is some large, mysterious power at work, cartwheeling through the cosmos, orchestrating both big and little things, to get your attention, to make you appreciate the brevity of your life.

Our youngest son Dylan, who is almost 4, has his own bed. It’s a perfectly good bed dressed with a soccer ball comforter and lined with stuffed animals yet he still sleeps in bed with Cindy and I.

(I know…not our finest parenting work but let those without parenting sin cast the first fruit snack.)

Anyway, Sunday night Dylan was extra abusive. Fighting for sleep, I was kicked and punched, elbowed and kneed in my face, neck, back and groin.

At 5:15 am, when the alarm buzzed, I awoke with Dylan’s little knee firmly wedged in my left rib cage.

Annoyed, I push his knee away, growled a Monday-morning-up-before-dawn-and-I-have-to-go-to-work growl and slow roll out of bed.

Shuffling across the bedroom, clearing the fuzz from my eyes, I caught Cindy, in a twist of sheets, on her side, hanging at the edge of the bed, as Dylan laid horizontal, uncovered, head tilted skyward and snoring and holding a sly little smile.

In the kitchen…

…between sips of coffee and a bowl of oatmeal I pop two ibuprofen, message the knot pulsing in my back, stare out into the faded blue morning and think about how it was time to take a parental stand, to move the little ramrod down the hall to his room and force him to sleep in his own, perfectly good bed.

The universe sends an email.

I get to school, enter my classroom, drop in my chair, turn on the computer and.wait for the little miracle of modernity to wake up and do its thing.

A few minutes later I find, resting in my inbox, an email from a former student asking for a favor. The student explains how his grandfather just died and how he attached the obituary his father had written.

The student asks if I could proofread the obituary and offer his father some commentary.

Humbled by the request and intrigued by the contents I began to read.

It’s a fine piece, honoring a man I didn’t know but who, by all accounts, lived a full and happy life, a life dedicated to his family.

 Then it happened.

As if the universe nudged me, making sure I wasn’t too self-involved on this Monday morning. Making sure I was paying attention.

The obituary concludes with an anecdote about how, when the man was a child he would sleep in his father’s bed. How the father would run his hand through the child’s hair. And how even now, a grown man with thinner hair and with his own children, still remembers the comfort of his now deceased father’s hand and the warmth of the bed they shared.

I lean back, shake my head and launch skyward, beyond the drop ceiling, beyond the school roof, out into the rolling universe, defy gravity, float along  and watch the morning bloom across the ceaseless sky only to fall earthward, back to my empty classroom, back to my chair, back to smallness of my life, back to the little knot in my lower back.

The universe throat punches us.

On the night of May 22, 2017, a suicide bomber killed 22 people outside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England.

The first victim announced on the news was an 8 year old girl.

After I kiss my children off to bed, I helplessly watch the rolling television coverage of the bombing for the rest of night.

Later, in the quiet of my bedroom, when I find Dylan asleep and alive and sprawled across my bed I couldn’t help but think of the empty beds now in Manchester.

Dylan is the youngest of my three children.

He’s almost 4. And my eldest just turned 9. Dylan is my last link to the wonders of infancy — the softness, the smell, the little lungs working inside when they lie on your chest and they breathe and you breathe and you feel the absolute magic of their breath inside you.

I guess for me, Dylan and his growing vocabulary and his budding personality and his sudden self-sufficiency starkly affirm the fleeting nature of time. Of how children grow up, venture beyond your reach and become little bodies open to the mercies of the universe.

On what started as another Monday became a day where the universe made itself known, felt. 

Life seems to work that way, one minute your blinded by your own minutia and the next, the universe is there to disciple you.

And when you’re standing over your father’s casket, dreaming of his hand running through your hair or you’ve been suddenly dropped into that nightmare moment, that godless moment of having outlived your child, sometimes, all you can do is lie in bed at night, wonder about the mystery of it all and reach for what is no longer there.

Be well,

Jay

The S Word- by Mark Roeder (Guest Post)

Meet Mark Roeder…

Hi everyone, my name is Mark Roeder. I work full time as a Project Manager in Washington DC for a DoD contractor after 10 years active duty in the Navy, living in the Virginia Beach area.

My family is the most important thing to me and I spend all of my spare time with them. I married my best friend over 10 years ago and we have two tiny humans that share our last name. I love sports and my son shares my passion and I’m lucky enough to coach his soccer team for the second year in a row. I am a dad blogger and have contributed to the Huffington Post Blog, Babble by Disney and my own site, All Good in the Fatherhood.

I started off writing as a form of therapy, a way to get my thoughts out of my head and onto paper (or a screen really). I really enjoy sharing my experiences through fatherhood and after some of the great feedback that I’ve gotten, I love knowing that I can help out or entertain just a few people.


The S Word

As a married dad, we all think about it all the time, we can never seem to get enough of it, plan our lives around it and often daydream about that dirty S word… Sleep! What other S word could I have been talking about? Get your mind out of the gutter! From the moment that our first bundle of joy, cries and poop was born, we had to adjust our lives to be able to function on significantly less sleep. We thought that once the midnight feedings were done, we would be able to get more sleep but boy were we wrong! As the kids have gotten older, it is nice that they can get their own breakfast and play and even feed the dog in the morning, giving us a few extra minutes, but not many as they haven’t quite figured out the art of quiet. When Brenn is still asleep and Lilly is awake, she will come in our room and talk and use our bathroom and want snuggles and hugs, really any way to not be the only one awake. A clock in each of their rooms has been a blessing and rules that they cannot come out of their room until 8:00 gives us slightly more rest.

Sleep is almost a tradable currency in my house, with negotiations always ongoing such as “If you get up early today, I’ll go grocery shopping for you and get up with them tomorrow”.

It seems like there is a sick kid or a nightmare on a weekly basis. My 5 year old still randomly climbs into bed with us once a week or so and she takes a while to fall asleep and has been known to talk to herself or even ask us some of the most random questions about a meal that we once ate at a restaurant that was completely unmemorable but is enough to spark a thought and make it that much harder to fall back to sleep. On top of kids keeping us up, we have 2 cats that sleep on the bed, a golden retriever that sneaks on to the bed when she thinks I’m not paying attention and a giant rabbit downstairs that doesn’t like to be left alone so will randomly thump or toss things around his cage. The odds are stacked against all of us but I promise that you will not jump out of bed faster than when you hear a kid or animal start gagging and it turning into full-fledged projectile vomiting.

I know that it has become cliché at this point but for all the times that we didn’t want to nap as a kid, we wish we could nap so much more as an adult. We sneak naps whenever we can get away with one, my favorites are when I can sneak out of work early on a Friday and catch an hour cat nap before getting up and thinking about dinner and our raging Friday nights of Pie Face and Nick Jr! My wife relishes her nap time and she loves the lazy Sunday afternoon nap, and I cherish my alone time with my kids on Sundays, even more now that they are no longer devoted to homework and studying. I have been known to catch a few Zs on the couch while the tiny humans play all around me.

I wake up early most days to go to work, usually around 4:45 which is way better than the 3:40 for my last job. It is tough to balance life in that respect between not getting enough sleep to function properly or going to bed when my kids do and not getting any adult time with my wife. I usually get around 6 ½ to 7 hours during the week and a solid 8 on the weekends and that works for me but not everyone is the same. I know a lot of people that need much more than that to function, and others that seem to be able to go without sleep all together. Being in the Navy gave me the ability to sleep anywhere, at any time and I have even fallen asleep standing up on multiple occasions. I fall asleep almost daily on my Metro ride home from work, but I’m too nervous for a deep sleep.

We are all warned when we find out that we are going to be parents to get all the sleep that you can before the baby gets here and that seems to be the stereotypical advice given, but I believe that we need to cherish what we have, whatever it is.

Stay strong and not so sleepy out there dads!


Be sure to check out Mark’s blog at www.allgoodinthefatherhood.com

Defining Fatherhood: A Letter to My Daughter on Her 9th Birthday

Dear Haley,

It’s incredible. It really is.

9 years ago, a nurse loaded you and your mom into the back seat of our silver Chevy Malibu, shut the door, stepped back, offered a smile and suddenly our lives began together.

Surprisingly, sometimes life is that cut and dry.

One day you’re curled inside your mother and the next day you’re here, swaddled and waiting for a ride home.

I remember the drive home from the hospital.

As the engine hummed, I tried to comprehend how 9 months raced by like they never happened, and now you were suddenly here, snuggled in the back seat with your blue eyes fixed out the back window, watching the world in reverse.

Nervous and sleep deprived, I ordered myself to pay attention, turning off the radio, checking mirrors and gripping the steering wheel at the recommended 10 and 2 positions.

In that moment it became clear–I was a father. I was your dad. And on that day, my soul responsibility was to drive my most precious cargo, you and your mother, 4 miles from hospital to home. From point A to point B without incident.

Things Change, Things Remain the Same

Haley, somehow you’re 9 years old.

And some things have changed. You’re taller, smarter, louder and more self-sufficient then I could ever imagine. You know how to divide, multiply, work an Ipad and yesterday you informed me about the central nervous system and all its complicated functions.

Yet like our first car ride together (which was an absolute success!) there remains a certitude. I’m still your dad. I’m still responsible, no matter your age or crisis and no matter how nervous and sleep deprivation I am, for getting you from point A to point B.

Raising a Daughter

As a kid, I was raised on pro wrestling and domestic weaponry.

I spent most of my young life on athletic teams bolstered by boys, roughhousing with my brothers, proving my toughness, my invulnerability.

So understand, fathering a daughter is a little odd for me. This may sound strange, but sometimes you’re a familiar mystery. Sometimes I don’t know what to do with you.

You’ve change so much, so fast, that some days I stare at you, watch you smile, cartwheel about the house and watch your blue eyes sparkle in the sunlight and wonder how all this incredible stuff happened.

And I sometimes wonder how I will handle all the incredible stuff that’s yet to come.

Defining Fatherhood

Watching you grow up is both exciting and terrifying.

As we stand at the threshold of those tumultuous adolescent years, I’ve been thinking greatly about what kind of dad do you need right now?

The answer, I believe, is a simple one.

A dad defined is like any good driver.  Present. Focused. Anticipates dangers. Ignores distractions. Guides their child through the unpredictability of life.

A dad is there to help a child get from point A to point B.

And whether point B is your 10th birthday or some prom dress calamity or marriage or motherhood, if I did my job, if I was the dad you deserved, you’ll be prepared. You’ll meet your challenges with a patience, honesty and humility.

It’s become clear, fatherhood is not about meddling or interjecting or inflicting my will on you or filling your head with fiction. In fact, fatherhood really isn’t about the father at all. It has and always will be about the livelihood of the child. 

In 9 years you’ll be 18 and things will have undoubtedly change.

You’ll be driving yourself. You’ll be standing at the cusp of adulthood and may not need me the way you do now.  But despite my dwindling demand, my job description remains.

You need the dad who drove you and your mother home from the hospital 9 years ago. A dad to remain vigilance and focus.

You’ve entrusted me to listen, eliminate distractions, anticipate danger, embrace the incredible and enjoy the ride.

And my girl, I don’t want to let you down.

Happy birthday!

Love,

Dad