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an open letter to my sons at the beginning of a school year

to my children,

as i sit and string these words together, you are both sleeping, your bodies still but for the rising of your chests with each little breath.  as i look at you in your beautiful sleep, i often wonder what is happening inside your heads.  are you dreaming?  and if so, is it in color?  do you dream about dinosaurs and batman and scooby-doo?  do your minds race with the jumbled juxtaposition of the images that fill your brains all day, or are your brains as serene as your soft-looking sleep? 

these questions have been pushing me a bit harder the last few days because both of you have started school.  you've both entered the world of giant square brick buildings full of charts and handouts and chocolate milk in little cardboard boxes and educational dvd's (i used to have filmstrips, but that's a whole 'nother story).  you've crossed the threshold into a realm that smells like crayons and pencil shavings mixed with floor wax and cafeteria pizza. 

as you can tell, there is alot going on in school.  there are so many sights and sounds and smells.  so much to do.  so much to experience.  so much to inspire curiosity and sometimes even anxiety.  in short: there is so much to learn.  and that's why i'm writing these words to you.  because by the time you're old enough to read them or to really care what they say, i hope you haven't forgot how fun it is to learn.  the smells might change from "eau-de-crayola" to the combination of heavily-overused junior high colognes, and the work might change from worksheets to essays, but the goal is still the same: to discover all there is to learn about this amazing thing called life. 

last night we read a book about weather.  it is a book with 3-D pictures, and so as i read it you both had to alternate your turn with the blue and red lenses to see the images of hurricanes, tornadoes, and lightning.  and as we turned each page to discover the secrets it had to offer, you both asked me questions.  you wanted to know about the pictures and about wind and about clouds and vacuums and temperatures.  you're still trying to make sense of this great big world that is just teeming with mystery.  and i am hoping - even praying - that you never stop doing that.  it is the deep desire of this daddy that you never stop learning, and never stop wanting to learn; that you continue to ask questions (you don't have to ask "why?" after every sentence though, cade!).  that you continue to be unsatisfied with unthoughtful answers.  that you continue to apply the things you've learned to new experiences.  that you continue to wrestle with all the stimuli and information and images and worksheets and math problems and blank pages that life throws at you.  and that you just never stop learning.

as i watch your rib cages rise and fall with each rhythmic breath, i am overwhelmed with your peace and your innocent beauty.  but my joy is almost immediately accompanied by a heavy anxiety because i know that the world will rob you of some of that peace and innocence.  and so i pray over you.  i pray that even in these days, as you trace and color and paint and count that you will find that life is not just life: it is abundant life, overflowing with possibility and hope and wonder.  and that you never lose sight of that truth.  so sleep for now, little ones.  dream of crime-solving canines and superheroes, and wake to a new opportunity to learn and live.  and love it all. 

yours forever,


Bill Uebbing said…
I tried 3 times to read this. I am sure it ends well, but I can't see it through my tears. Your sons are lucky to have you and Shannon as parents.

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