Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Letter to Larkin's First Grade Teacher

Dear First Grade Teacher,

As a kid, my favorite comic strip was always Calvin and Hobbes. I’d race my dad to the newspaper and pull out the comic section; always reading Calvin’s exploits first. I’m not sure if it can be chalked up to osmosis or just the universe having a bit of a laugh at my expense - but apparently years of reading the adventures of that ruffled haired, rumpled shirted little boy was just preparation for the boy I’ll be dropping off in your classroom every morning this year, because Larkin is notoriously known as Calvin come to life.

He is wildly imaginative and unexpectedly mature beyond his years. He manages to be both creative and logical at the same time. For example: when told by some older kids that Santa isn’t real, he told me he believes in Santa, but he “needs to speak to someone about installing security cameras in the house, just for some evidence”.

He’s witty and wildly sarcastic – the kind that makes you want to laugh out loud and punish him at the same time. He can tell you more about dinosaurs and animals than you ever wanted to know, carefully pronouncing their full scientific names. This fact will drive you completely insane when (like Calvin) he can be contrastingly lazy about anything that doesn’t immediately capture his attention. He gives up easily, and sometimes needs encouragement to try new things.

Fair warning: he will talk you to death - and I mean that with only the slightest exaggeration. He will drive you nuts. He'll go to time out for talking during circle time, during quiet time, during story time; while he's on the potty and when he's supposed to be eating lunch. I warned his teacher last year, and she assured me I was correct - his will be the voice jingling in your brain when you go home at night and beg your family for a minute of silence.

But he knows he talks a lot, and will usually be responsive when you just tell him that you’re out of words, or that he HAS to let someone else have a chance to talk. Usually. Sometimes, anyway. Okay… let’s just say that if you find a magic trick to get the verbal onslaught to slow down, please let me know.

Luckily, within that tsunami of chatter, is one of the sweetest six-year-old you will ever meet. He will be one of the biggest leaders in the class. He can make other kids laugh when they’re crying and will bend over backwards to please you. He’s got a huge heart and thrives on giving and receiving affection. He’s eager to please, and loves to help. You can give him any job, and he’ll usually go above and beyond for no other reward than to make you happy.

You'll never meet a kid with a bigger heart or capacity for love and affection. He thrives on protecting and reassuring those who are scared or sad. He has big feelings, and sometimes has days where things overwhelm him at the drop of a hat. Acknowledging the big feelings but reminding him that the day still has to go on, usually works to get him through, albeit maybe moodier than usual.

Fair warning: his stepdad is a police officer. I tell you that because he's been known to get a little too enthusiastic while playing "cops and robbers". I'll go ahead and apologize for that in advance.

Larkin is very much your typical all-boy six-year-old. I’m not of the mind that he is a "untouchable, flawless little snow flake", but he is a pretty special kid. I know he isn't perfect, and I want to work on his problems with you. But he has so many amazing qualities, and he can be such an asset and enjoyable part of your day - if you have some patience and maybe a good, solid pair of earplugs.

Thank you again, so much, for teaching him. We’re so excited about everything he’s going to learn this year!

Larkin’s mom

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Love Grows Best in Little Houses

He mentioned the house during one of our first phone conversations. "It's small," he said. "But perfect for me. Great vintage fixtures." He was in the process of closing, held up by VA loan red tape.

Honestly, all I heard was the fact that this man was a homeowner. Not living with his parents. Not bunking with three or more former frat brothers. A real, live grown up - or some approximate facsimile, anyway. (Don't judge me. Dating in your 30s is hard, folks.)

He sent me the listing photos. It was indeed charming, full of historic details. When he finally closed on the house months later, I drove to visit and help him unpack. I rearranged furniture and unpacked boxes, never quite realizing how important this house would become.

It didn't take long until Larkin and I were spending more free time with John in that little house than we were in our own apartment in Dallas. The big empty lot next door provided hours of amusement to Larkin as he dug for dinosaur bones and chased friends around. The room he slept in slowly morphed from a sparse single guy's guest room (neon whiskey sign as a nightlight included) to filling with toys and stray little boy socks.

It didn't take long for me to picture that house when I talked about home. About the same time, John would mention that the house wasn't the same when we were gone. Before long, we moved to Ardmore, and after a year in a rent house, we made it official. That little house was filled with love and laughter and lines for the single bathroom.

I've moved almost once a year since college. Home has long since become where my people are, not where the curtains are hung. But there was something about this tiny little house, with it's warm wood floors and all of our memories displayed, that held our budding family together perfectly.

It had its faults. The size, mostly. What was perfect for a single guy didn't quite stretch for a family of three and a German Shepherd. The single bathroom. The tiny kitchen. But the couch was perfectly comfortable, and held hours of movie watching and late evening snuggling. John knocked himself out decorating Larkin's room when we moved in, and created the coolest little boy's room ever. The small table that hosted some amazing meals. The porch where we watched our boy play with neighborhood kids while the sun set.

Laughter bounced off those walls. Disagreements were had. Books were enjoyed. Plans for the future were made. Family was crammed in for holidays.

I'm so very excited about our new house - twice the square footage, more land than I ever imagined owning. But I'll always remember this house fondly. The house where my baby grew into a little boy. The house where my marriage was built. The house where we became a family.