A Dad’s Back-to-School Wishlist

As summer is somehow already coming to an end, the reality (and stress) of back-to-school season is settling in. This is a big year for everyone in my house. My son will begin his journey to potty training, thus not being a “baby” anymore—and more importantly, me being out of the diaper changing business. Plus, my daughter will begin her final year with her friends at Primrose.

With a two-year-old moving to a room with potty training and a four-year-old entering Pre-K, this new school year is less about learning letters and numbers and more about how I expect them to grow as individuals. There are plenty of years ahead for me to stress about how well my kids are doing in school, so in thinking about what would make this year a success, I’m approaching it a little differently.

As we know, building good character starts early, and I’ve made a wish list of what I hope my kids will achieve on their journey of character development this year. These things will not only make for a successful school year, but will also set the framework for my kids to grow up to be good people.

  • Always Be Kind: Sometimes you can’t control how the day is going, but you can always control how you treat people.
  • Always Smile: It’s infectious—for you and other people.
  • Fail at Something: It means you’re trying new things. Develop this skill early. Plus, it usually makes for a good story later on.
  • Ask a Lot of Questions: As my daughter wisely told my wife the other day, “I ask a lot of questions because it makes me smarter.” My wife had no response, and my daughter had more questions. Well played.
  • Speak Up: Your teacher wants to hear your thoughts and ideas. It’s boring talking to yourself. Trust me.
  • Believe in Yourself: Your family always will. Plus, confidence is contagious.
  • Know We’re Here: At the end of every day, no matter how good or bad it is, your mom and I will be home to love, hug and support you.

Look, I’ll be honest. If I no longer have to change diapers by next spring, I will personally consider the school year to be a raving success. There are only so many times a person can take having a child stare you dead in the eye as you change his or her diaper and still hang on to your dignity. But if my kids can also check off a few from the list above this year, I will end up with two potty-trained, kind and confident kids. And that’s a combination I can get down with.