What happens when a mom’s love meets a momfail, and one little boy’s locks are on the line!
Your mom loves you very much. And your dad has been known to be a little stingy when it comes to spending money. Your dad also has decided a long time ago that he is willing to spend money on a good haircut. Your mom also understands the value of a good haircut. That is why it doesn’t make any sense that we send you to “Kelly’s Hair Salon” every time you need to get your haircut.
So there’s that. But the other side of the coin is that your hair grows like weeds, and it doesn’t make sense to take you to a place to get your hair trimmed every two weeks. We did do that once, and you did really well, but the idea of taking you 20 mins away every two weeks will a.) have my hair girl not like me very much since she didn’t charge you for your first cut and b.) it’s too hard to fit into your schedule as quickly as your hair grows.
So what am I getting at? The other night, we took you to Kelly’s Hair Salon for your regular cut.
Kelly’s Hair Salon
Owner, stylist, and only employee: your mom
Motto: it’s good enough, right?
Location: upstairs bathroom
Perks: snacks and Youtube videos of Mickey Mouse and/or BIG TRUCKS!
It’s a place like Cheers where everybody knows your name (and also knows your height, weight, favorite foods, etc. etc.). Normally you get what the motto suggests, but this past cut was something else entirely.
Here is you before the cut:
Now you look like this:
You see, your mom may have… just a teensy-weensy bit, more on one side than the other, kinddaaaa, Lloyd Christmas’d you. When we took you to get your haircut at the non-Kelly’s Hair Salon, your mom saw the hair girl doing some vertical scissor work, and she’s been on a quest to use the same style on you.
I will give her this. Before your last cut, you were looking pretty, pretty amish. Your mom would trim around your ears, but we like your long hair so we didn’t touch that, and the long hair up top caught up to the shorter hairs around your ears, thus giving you the amish bowl (sounds like a college football game in december between some D-3 schools in Pennsylvania). Make no mistake, the amish bowl is not something you want to be known for.
But then again, neither is the Lloyd Christmas. The good thing you have going for you is that you’re so cute you can pull it off. And as I’ve told her, the shape is good. It’s just the details that did this last cut in.
So where do we go from here? Your guess is as good as mine. Your hair will grow back, but will you or I trust Kelly’s Hair Salon to not make the same mistake again? Do we give your mom a second chance or cut her hair privileges (see what I did there?)?
There is a lot I want to teach you in life, but one of the most important things I can tell you about achieving your goals is to set habits and systems in place early and often. Here’s why:
If you have a dream, which we adults call “goals,” then the only way to achieve that dream/goal is to set systems and habits in place to reach that dream/goal. If your dream is to be an astronaut, then the only way to do that is to learn as much as you can as often as you can about space, astronauts, NASA, etc. You can’t want something bad enough without putting in an equal amount of action to make it real.
[pats you on the back]
You’re too young to worry about this now, but this is something your mom and I are trying to do to ensure that you have every opportunity to realize whatever dreams you have as you grow up. We are making new habits and systems for ourselves in what goals we’re trying to accomplish for ourselves, as well as habits and systems as parents to ensure you have the best childhood.
And the best childhood doesn’t mean you’re happy and laughing 24/7. Here’s an example:
When you were young (you’re 1, so saying when you were young sounds funny), your mom bought video that taught us how to create sleep habits for you. This system allowed us to teach you how to sleep, and now you are a rock star sleeper, at least at night, which allows you to wake up every day with energy and that big smile on your face.
“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
― James Clear, Atomic Habits
I love the above quote because it is so true. Goals are not reached because of one massive action that you take, day after day, because that is not sustainable. You’ll burn yourself out and eventually relapse. Find a system that allows you to be happy, and set that trajectory upward.
[sips whiskey; jingles ice in glass; finishes whiskey]
Like I said, this is all for down the line. Your mom and I will worry about setting systems in place as parents for you now, and you’ll hopefully take our example and set them up for yourself once you’re ready. All you have to do now is continue to be you, maybe be you without throwing your food on the floor so Rogue can share your dinner with you, but otherwise be you.
The last thing I’ll say about habits and systems is that they encourage you to take your time, which is something I want to make sure you do in life. The key is to take your time while always taking action. Don’t procrastinate, but understand that small actions early and often will lead to big changes later in life. Effort is compounding.
There are just a few days before you turn one, and I want to give you an idea of what this last year has been like for your mom and I. Before you were born, I think we were both very nervous about the costs of bringing a child into this world, the lack of sleep we’d grown accustomed to, and many other things that I have to believe most parents feel before they have a child.
The most important thing I can tell you is that I am most happy that you are you. What I mean by that is that your little personality, from the way you laugh and point out school buses as they drive by to the way you put your head down and crawl with intention, is so perfect and fits who your mom and I are to a T.
You’re a happy baby for 23 1/2 hours a day, and I am so thankful for that. I am more thankful that you’re healthy, because a lot of people we know aren’t as lucky as we are. I know this might not be the case forever, but I will count my blessings now because to this point, you’ve been pretty perfect.
Your favorite word is “dada.” Unfortunately, you call me “dada,” Rogue “dada,” Deb “dada,” and even your mom “dada” more often than she’d like. You also hit her with a “mama” which melts her heart, so maybe amp that up a little in year 2 if you want to keep her wrapped around your finger.
Your favorite thing is your dog, and he’s come around on you I think thanks in large part to your willingness to share your meals and snacks with him. We had one little incident where he tried to yell at you and “alpha” you, but your dad took care of that situation pretty quickly, and aside from a few iffy moments, that is all behind us. Still careful not to let you bang on him when we’re not right there, but for the most part, I think you two are besties (even if he wants to stand in between you and your parents to get some attention 99.9% of the time).
Your favorite food is anything your mom or I are eating, which can be eggs, pancakes, pizza… We’ve moved our dinners to 7:30 most nights because it can be a little tough to eat while you’re climbing up on us and trying to make our plant your plate.
You LOVE baths. Before bed, we will ask you if you want to take a bath, and because you’re so smart, you get excited, yell “bah!” and start crawling toward the stairs.
Side bar: I time you when you crawl up the stairs. I think the second or third time you did it, it was 32 or 34 seconds. Now you get distracted half way up, and can barely break a minute. Hoping this birthday will set you straight and we can get back to our speed work.
The best part about being your dad is that everything I thought I was afraid of, the money and the lack of sleep and everything else, is such a small tax on what has become the biggest joy in my life. I love everything about you and want nothing more than to see you grow up, explore, and find happiness. I want to be your best friend and can’t wait to play baseball and basketball with you, go golfing with your mom and your cousins (who have a head start on that, but your superior athletic genes will allow you to catch up in no time), go running and see you do some kids OCR races (I hope I hope I hope) and so much more.
I can’t wait to teach you things, and to stay up late with you watching movies, and to have secrets (it’s boy stuff, mom). It amazes me how much I want for you because it goes so far beyond what I want for myself, but I know that to show you how to get those things, it means being an example. I guess what I mean by that is you make me want to be better just for being YOUR dad.
This first year has been the best year of my life, and I can’t wait to celebrate your birthday with you. All your favorite people are coming (ahem, Gma), and I’m excited to turn the page to another year full of adventures, firsts, and lots of love and laughter.
There is going to be a time when you grow up. It seems like it happens a little bit each day, and I look back a month ago at who you were and it blows my mind how much you’ve changed. I think that growing up is something that is so much more apparent when you’re young, but seeing you grow into a little boy reminds me that we’re all growing up a little bit more each day.
There is going to be a time, maybe 18 or 19 years from now, when you and I sit down and listen to a John Mayer album called Continuum. The whole thing is about John growing up from your 20s into his 30s, but also about how that looks from his dad’s point of view. As we listen to the songs, I am going to remind you that while time feels like it drags on in the moment, there is a much bigger picture with a much bigger story to learn from.
Right now, you’re in the room next to me fighting a nap. You have your whole life in front of you and it’s been the best thing in the world seeing you grow from an infant into this little boy that I love so much. I think your mom wants to hit the pause button and keep you young forever, but I am most excited to learn, teach, and grow together with you.
Because that’s the thing. Until your mom and I got married, I kind of felt like I was growing on my own. I had my own things and sure, my parents guided me in a lot of ways, but I never felt like it was something that we did “together.” Then when your mom and I got together, it felt a little bit like we were on this single path. We stopped eating meat together. We focused on happiness, fitness, and then family. Now that you’re here, I feel like this whole new stage of growth is happening to all of us.
I love seeing you learn things by experiencing them. I love seeing you stand next to a door, look around, and decide whether or not to try stepping away from the door. I love seeing you laugh after you get everyone’s attention by clap-clap-clap — pause — and go about your business. You are going to be something else as you continue to grow, and I can’t wait to be by your side as long as you’ll let me.
Growing up is something that only seems to happen in the past. Plans, dreams, goals all happen ahead of us, but growth is only realized by looking backward. If I could teach you one thing, it would be that growth DOESN’T actually happen in the past, but it is a constant in our lives. You are growing all the time, developing all the time, and evolving into who you are and who you’re meant to be all the time. Growth leads us to where we want to go, and it’s so important to realize that as you make daily decisions in the present.
Now that you’re done fighting your nap and settled in, I’m also reminded that it is OK to slow down. Growth might be happening all the time, but we have to be OK to take a step back, take a good nap, and reset.
I love you with every part of who I am, who I’ve been, and who I’ll be. You are my absolute favorite thing and you always will be. Don’t be afraid to be who you are, and understand that you can still grow up and be the goofy, super-smart, amazing person that you are and will always be.
I’m sorry. Due to some technical difficulties and a busy holiday season, I haven’t written to you. I’m not making excuses. If I wanted to figure it out, I would have. That’s on me. Let’s move on…
You just turned 11 months old the other day, and holy f#*%^ing moly things have changed since I’ve last written you. You’re basically walking, identifying me, your mom, your dog, your Deb, and the school buses in the neighborhood.
But before we get into things, check you out, you stud you!
Anyone, now that we’re past the whole “four months no posts” thing, we can move forward. You are an amazing little man, Reagan James. In the past four months, you’ve visited family in Orlando and Cleveland, had your first Christmas and New Year (spoiler alert, neither you nor your parents made it till midnight), and amped up your personality tenfold. Seriously, if you took a personality test, you’d set the bar. You’re a goof ball, you love your dog, and you’re so smart.
Next big to do for you is your first birthday. Not going to ruin the surprise, but let’s just say it’s going to be one heck of a hot dog day.
(it’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse themed)…
Anyway, best that I wrap this up since I haven’t posted in months and the last thing I want to do is sit on this any longer before posting. The last thing I’ll say is that you’re the best little man your mom and I could possibly have in the house, you make my whole day just from the first moment I see you in the morning, and your mom and I love you so so much.
The other day, you turned seven months old. What this means is
a. it’s been a few weeks since I’ve last written you (sorry)
2. you have lots of new skills that I haven’t mentioned to you yet
d. Rogue hasn’t eaten you yet, so things are progressing nicely
You can pretty much sit up all by yourself, which is cool, and you’re eating solid foods. You’re in this “I don’t want my bottle in the afternoon” phase, which is not cool, but your mom and I are persistent and we usually get it down one way or another.
Last week, we took some family pictures in the same place we did our pregnancy announcement pictures. You did great, and the whole thing went pretty easily. We don’t have the pics yet, but I’ve seen some of the proofs and they look great.
We also took advantage of our pool for the first time this summer one day before it was set to shut down, despite the fact that it is still 90* outside — you loved it! Your mom and I figured you’d be a water baby based on how much you like taking baths (evidence below).
Your mom showed me a side-byside-by-side picture of you at one month, four months, and just now seven months all in the same chair. It’s crazy how much you change. You went from this little baby to this little boy with all the personality in the world and the biggest and best cheesy smile. I’m sure you’ll be crawling and walking in no time.
The other thing we love is you cruising around in your little scooter. We’re considering changing your name to “scoots” because you are a pro in this thing. Rogue is not the biggest fan of this thing, as you have a way of bull rushing him and he doesn’t know what to do.
Other things you are into these days are:
not finishing your bottle
sitting on the front porch and neighborhood watching
walks around the neighborhood while mom wears you
water – pool, bath, washing hands
Mickey’s Clubhouse and the Hot Diggity Dog Song
I just want to end this by saying that I love being your dad. I think you’re the coolest guy I know and I can’t wait to continue watching you grow each day, and see what the next thing you learn to do is because it’ll be just as exciting for your mom and I as it is for you!
Something that struck me the other day is that you will only know me as the person I am now, and will be in the future. You won’t know me the way your mom knew me, nor will you know me the way my mom knows me. And that’s OK, but I think it is important if you know more about who I was when I was young.
I grew up in a few different places. First, there was the little red house in Reynoldsburg where your Uncle Jordan and I lived with your Grandpa Rauch and Grandma (GM) Whitt. We had a lot of woods in our back yard where we would play with the neighborhood kids, and a church softball field where we would play baseball. I remember we would use big rocks as bases because the church would remove the bases when they weren’t being used. My two best friends were Eric Fryer and Trent Spangler. Trent’s grandpa had a baseball field named after him in Reynoldsburg, and Eric and I played baseball together for a few years, and he went on to play a little in the pros.
I also liked playing Nintendo, lining up Matchbox cars with your uncle Jordan and racing them from one side of the table to the next to see which was fastest, and watching football with your grandpa Rauch.
We moved to Hollywood, Florida after my mom and dad got divorced when I was about 9 or 10. I remember being angry about it for a long time, but as I grew up and saw how much happier each of them turned out with where their lives would go, I came to understand things a lot better. We moved to a city named Coral Springs, and it was more baseball and hanging out with my friends Zach Weiner, Johnny McPherson, and some kids around the neighborhood. We would rollerblade, play basketball at the park, listen to alternative music and wear Airwalk shirts and wallets with chains. I was a skater kid who could barely skate, but it was fun for me.
Also in Florida, your Grandpa Whitt came along and married your grandma. This was a big change for everyone, and I think I had a hard time with it for awhile because of the initial divorce. But I liked your grandpa Whitt and I knew your grandma liked him, and we eventually became friends. He ended up being one of, if not the most important people in my life. He showed me what it means to work hard and not accept things if they don’t fall in your favor. I hope he and I both can teach you those same things.
I came back to Ohio after a few years and moved to Gahanna where your Whitt family lived (and mostly still live). Around this time, your grandpa Rauch and grandma Anissa got married. Seemed like everyone was having babies, and your aunts and uncles (Tyler Paige, Mauri, Rese) all came about in those next few years. I think it was a unique thing to be the age I was and have all these new brothers and sisters in my life.
Baseball (again) was where I found my place, and between that and just meeting people in school, I made my group of friends. Middle school was a lot of fun. I would meet up with friends before school and play 2-on-2 basketball in my buddy’s driveway before walking to school. I learned to play saxophone, which led me to teach myself guitar.
High school was another fun time. I started playing golf and was on the golf and baseball team all four years of high school. My best friends were James Rice and Chris Nighland. They both played baseball and golf too, and we would hang out on the weekends. Chris lived with his grandparents who had a lot of woods in their backyard, and we took four-wheelers out to a campsite we made and camped out every warm weekend we could. We had parties out there, and I got into a little bit of trouble a few times, but mostly we just wanted to hang out and have fun.
I had a lot of jobs, too, when I was in high school. Your grandpa Whitt thought it was important for me to work hard, and I think that it helped me grow a lot and taught me responsibility. Some of my jobs (I probably can’t remember all of them) included carpet cleaner, bus boy, Abercrombie stock room worker, Gap salesperson, fence builder with your grandpa Rauch, Abercrombie warehouse worker, Uno Pizza cook, Lowes garden center worker (like, two times before I quit), and maybe some other ones in there. Some jobs I liked, and some I hated, but I always showed up and worked hard, and tried to keep a happy face while I worked. I learned a lot about a lot of different jobs, but more importantly, I learned how to work with a lot of different kinds of people.
As I grew up, I found that the most important things to me were friends, sports, and family. I learned that my parents cared about me, and when they wanted me to work or wanted me to get straight A’s in school (sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t), it was because they were trying to show me how to be successful in the “real-world.” I know that I will expect a lot of the same things from you as you get older, but I promise that I will only push you because I believe in you, and I will only expect from you what I know you’re capable of.
I had a lot of fun growing up. I had many crazy adventures and did some things that I look back on and think, “what was I thinking?!?” I took some chances, and was smart enough to say no to other things that I knew were not good for me. I hope to share with you as much of those stories as you’ll hopefully want to hear someday, and I hope that you share with me all of the fun and adventures that you’re sure to have as you grow up.
Right now, you’re only 4 months old, and there is so much adventure ahead of you. The most important thing I’d ask of you as you grow up is to have fun, be confident in yourself, and keep your mom and I as involved in your life as possible. We will be your biggest supporters for the rest of our lives!
There is a line in an Avett Brothers song that goes, “When nothing is owed or deserved or expected, and your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected. If you’re loved by someone, you’re never rejected. Decide what to be and go be it.”
Hopefully you will appreciate the Avett Brothers when you’re older because, if not, your mom, dad, Aunt G, and team Mayberry will all be very sad at you. But even if you don’t like the band, there is a lot of truth in that line, particularly the first and the last parts. To illustrate my thought, I want to focus on the last line, “Decide what to be and go be it.”
Decide what to be and go be it
When you start something with the end in mind, you are working toward a goal and you’re free of circumstance. No matter what each day brings, you can navigate the challenges by deciding what action you take will get you toward your goal. Decide what to be doesn’t have to mean what your career will be, but decide what kind of person you want to be, and live each day in a way that makes that a reality.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t… you’re right.” — Henry Ford
Perspective is a powerful thing. I think when you’re young, and even a lot of people who are older, you can’t grasp the gravity of what these expressions mean. You might hear it, and say, “yea, I get it.” It’s the same thing as when I would tell you to start with the end in mind. If you take it to heart and adjust your perspective so that you make that expression a rule you operate by, you will find that you achieve those things you set out to achieve — you reach the end instead of stall along the way.
As you grow up, I promise to teach you to take on challenges with the end in mind, whether it be in sports, school, relationships, or anything else you ever need help with. I will show you how to visualize the things you want, and let the goal be your compass that guides each decision you make along the journey.
Decide what to be a go be it, son. And if you have confidence in what you want to be, there won’t be any person, situation, or circumstance that will keep you from that goal.
A yin-yang is a symbol that is shaped like a circle that is split into two parts — one side black and the other white. Within each side of the circle, there is a smaller circle of the opposite color, and it’s meant to represent the idea that there is good and bad (lightness vs. darkness) inside each of us. The idea is that nobody is 100% one thing — there is always a little bit of something else in every aspect of our lives.
Often times, a yin-yang can represent a relationship between two people. A perfect example of this can be understood with your mother and I, and our relationship toward music. You already know that I play guitar and sing.
I was never meant to give Justin Timberlake a run for his money in the talent department, but I do OK for it just being something fun that I enjoy. Your mom has rhythm. She can dance, shake her booty, and find a beat to just about any song and come up with some pretty entertaining/interesting/interesting moves.
The yin-yang of it all is that your dad can’t dance, and your mom…
…can’t sing (sorry babe).
Now I can bop around with you when we’re listening to music, and your mom can surprise me sometimes by hitting some notes when she’s feeling it (aka – wine), but for the most part, we are just two opposites that kind of make a musical whole (it’s why we’re a good match).
My hope for you is that you get the best of both worlds, and are a musical triple-threat — sing/dance/play. Even if you choose not to do any of those things, I hope that you’ll find a love for music through your mom and my efforts to sing, play, and dance with you as often as we do.
Bonus points if you follow my tastes in music. Your mom and I also have a little yin-yang when it comes to musical tastes. Her side is full of Timberlake, Beyoncé, things she used to dance at the club to in her red hat, and girl-anthem songs spanning the last 30 years (Janet-Clarkson). My side is a HOF-worthy playlist of modern classics, all-time great artists, and the unsung heroes that make up the fabric of quality music. You mom appreciates a few of the things that I play, and I will grant her that Timberlake has some ability.
Grading your performance on your first trip to Orlando.
On 3 Month Olds and Plane Travel
This past weekend, we took you to Orlando to see you Mimi and Papa (I think those are the names that were informally chosen, but that might be subject to change). We took you on your first airplane trip, each way consisting of less than two hours of total fly time. Below is your report card for how you did on this Mother’s Day travel weekend.
Please note: while a majority of your grades revolve around the travel aspect of this trip, additional consideration was given to hours spent during leisure and non-recreational activities as well.
The flight down started well, as you slept for about the first 45 minutes of the flight. The next 60 minutes were divided into bouts of anger, mixed in with your mom and I bouncing like idiots to soothe you. The way back, you woke up right before the plane took off, and there was a pretty even split between light sleep, mild anger, cute sounds, and reading/toy playing.
There was only one “instance” that happened during the trip. While one bad diaper wouldn’t normally drop you down a whole letter grade, the fact that it happened the only time we visited your grandma’s friends’ house, and that the “substance of question” ran up your back and ruined your outfit does drop it from an A to a B. You get the “B+” because your mom and I forgot to bring the changing pad, and careful improvisation had to be done.
A-friggin’-plus, buddy. You know how to turn on the charm, even when you’re upset. You pulled out all the tricks — a bottom lip you could hang stockings from, the toothless morning smile from your burrito-swaddle, and how fly you look in your baseball cap! Flirting with girls on the plane, listening to the Ojays with your Papa, you passed with flying colors.
You napped like a champ, and it only took you a minute or two to go down for the most part. The biggest issue was sleeping through the night. You usually gave us a good stretch initially, but between 3:00-6:00, you liked to wake up and talk…loudly. You didn’t want to sleep on the plane very much, but we won’t hold that against you since it was your first flight.
The trip itself had a few bumps, but you did a pretty good job with the travel aspect and being a cool little man with Mimi and Papa. Your mom and I look forward to many more trips with you in the future, but maybe we’ll wait until you’re just a bit older before we travel (commercial) again.