Dear Dragon – Kindness

Dear Dragon,

It’s been one heck of a school year. Lots of sickness, lots of uncertainty, and lots of worry. There have been some awkward talks with your classmates about Santa and crushes.

One thing that has been constant however is your kindness.

This week you found out that your friend had worn her one blue shirt and needed a blue shirt for the Winter Carnival at school. You immediately decided to bring her a shirt. There have been other times this year, you wanted to bring things for your classmates and I think that’s really sweet of you.

You also want to make something called, “Kids Club” that would see you and your friends doing things you’re good at and selling the product to raise money for charity. (I think this is inspired by the books and movies of the Baby-Sitters Club.)

You think the best of others and have a really hard time understanding why people do mean or unkind things. You also have a strong sense of right and wrong. Both are admirable but it sometimes leads you to be indignant or wanting to strike back.

I hope that as you grow up, you learn to temper that … erm well… temper and try to see why people are the way they are.

The world, and humanity, sometimes seems like a cruel place, but watching you wanting to do nice things for your neighbours makes me feel hopeful.

I love you little Dragon!

Your Papa

Dear Dragon – Welcome to Level 7

Dear Dragon,

What a big year. It started out a little rocky when the digital school switched their teachers around and you went from Mme Natalie’s class to Mme Francine’s class. It was a 1-2 split and you were inconsolable for almost a month. In the end, Mme Francine won you over and proved to be an excellent teacher.

This year you learned and did a lot:

  • Lots of math and arts (Art was your favourite subject)
  • French (You’ve improved so much it’s amazing)
  • Reading (You’ve gone from struggling to read a small book to devouring novels) Seeing you go to the library and how excited you got was the highlight of my summer.
  • You had your first crush and it’s freaking cute
  • You learned to swim in Grannie and Granddad’s pool
  • and so much more

This weekend you had your first birthday party with friends. It was super stressful for Mum and I, but you seemed to enjoy yourself, mostly. You had a small meltdown when you struggled to keep up with the 4th and 5th graders that were at the party. You loved your presents, although you said, “My friends over-estimated how much I like unicorns.”

You had definite Ideas of what you wanted at your party.

I’m extremely proud of how welcoming and inclusive you were. You made sure everyone was having fun and felt included, which isn’t easy with a group of shy kids. You’re showing signs of a good leader.

Another big step was going to in-person school. I think that was much harder on me then it was on you. Not seeing what you’re doing makes me feel like I’m missing out and simultaneously like an overbearing parent. Sigh. You seem to be loving it and have made friends. One of which you actually remembered their name. Lol. I wonder how long we’ll refer to the one as, “the girl with the same shoes”, another as “the cute girl”, or the “cousin of the girl with the same shoes”. You seem happy and that’s what matters. I hope you’ll be able to learn and experience as much as you did the previous year.

You are clever, sassy, strong willed, and fast to help others. I worry about your penchant for being distracted, anxious, and having meltdowns when you don’t understand something.

You are still highly competitive and precocious, two things that can be great assets as you grow up. They can also be negatives if you’re not careful. As long as I’m around, I’ll support you and help guide you as best I can.

Happy Birthday and I hope you have a great year.

I love you so much my Dragon girl,

Your Papa

Dear Dragon – End of Grade 1

Dear Dragon,

Congratulations! Yesterday you finished grade one.

Everything is going to be different now. You’re going to in-person school for grade two and you are going to love it. You’ll make friends and do all kinds of fun stuff.

I’m going to miss you. It’ll be the first time since I took parental leave for Adrien that I don’t see you almost every day. The world has kinda sucked the past 4 years (arguably more), but I’m thankful that I was able to spend so much extra time with you.

I know things change and I know you’re getting to that age where parents aren’t cool, but I hope as you grow older you’ll still have time to play videogames with me, cook/bake, and want me to read you stories.

You’ve learned so much the past three years of home/virtual school and that’s all because of your amazing teachers and your hard work. I know we pushed you and I know it wasn’t always easy. You still have issues with emotional regulation (but let’s be honest, so do I), you still have to learn that it’s okay to be wrong (I’m doing me best to show by example on this one), and you have a long time ahead to learn those things and so many more.

I know you’re excited to go to school, learn new things, and grow up. Just maybe don’t be in too much of a hurry just yet.

I love you little Dragon,

Papa

La Princesse and the Wailing Ghost  – Heroes, Legends, Fairies, and other Absurdities

The other day Dragon asked me to tell her a story that I made up. It’s the first time she’s asked in almost 2 years. I made up a quick story and she liked it. When she asked again, I took the opportunity to try and bring back La Princesse.


In a realm of magic, in a time of heroes; there lived Princesse. She lived in a large castle with her mum, the Queen, and her papa, the King.

She loved everything; adventure, myth, and magic. One day, she hoped to become a wizard. She also loved spooky stories and was reading one before bed.

The story was fun and sent shivers of excitement and fear up and down her spine. She turned off her light and closed her eyes.

A horrible wailing noise filled her room. It didn’t last long but she was so scared, she didn’t fall asleep until early the next morning.

The lack of sleep meant she was extra tired the next day, but she convinced herself that it was just the wind.

The second night the wailing happened at the exact same time and she was again too scared to go to sleep. She imagined all sorts of spirits, wraiths, and ghouls that could be hiding in the castle. She didn’t sleep at all that night.

When she fell asleep in her soup at lunch, her papa asked her what was wrong. She could tell he was trying really hard not to laugh.

“I keep hearing a sound like someone crying at night.”

He said maybe it was the wind, her imagination, or maybe she was dreaming. He offered to put a guard at her door or for her to sleep in their room, but she said no.

On the third night, she was struck by sympathy for whatever was crying and with frustration, she decided to find out what was making the noise.

She put on her housecoat and slippers before leaving her room and following the sound. It was coming from behind a large painting of her great-grandfather. She saw that there were curtains on either side of it and when she looked behind it, there was a passageway.

In large castles and some mansions, there are often hidden passages for servants and guards to move unseen and quickly. This was one of them and the sound was coming out of a large pipe that opened behind the painting and went along the wall.

The Princesse was so absorbed in following the pipe that she almost tripped on a younger girl, not much older than herself, who was sitting on some steps and crying. The other end of the pipe was over her head.

“Hello, are you okay?” she asked the crying girl.

“Yes,” she said glumly and then noticed who she was talking to and stood up. “Princesse, what are you doing here?”

“I followed this pipe from near my room. It was causing your crying to sound like a ghost.”

The girl turned bright red and looked directly at the Princesse. The girl’s eyes were purple. “I’m sorry. I’ve just been really sad. It’s been a year since I came here and you and your family have been very kind, giving me a job and a place to stay, but I miss my parents.”

“Where are your parents?” The Princesse tried to sound calming the way her papa did when he was trying to calm a horse.

“My home was in danger and they sent me here. They were supposed to follow me, but they never did.”

“I’m sorry.” it sounded hollow to her own ears, so the Princess gave the girl a hug.

“Thank you and I’m sorry I woke you up. I’m Meagan.”

“Nice to meet you, Meagan. Next time you feel sad you can come see me and I’ll sit with you while you cry. Maybe we can have tea.” The Princesse liked the idea of having a friend inside the castle.

She quickly found that Meagan wasn’t like other people their age. She went to school, but she didn’t know the same books or plays and she didn’t treat the Princesse any differently.

That was nice. She was used to people being guarded because of who she was. They weren’t afraid of her or her parents, just overly formal and distant.

The two started having tea together before bed and telling each other ghost stories, and the Princess was never again woken by the wailing ghost.


Heroes, Legends, Fairies, and other Absurdities are the expanded versions of stories I’ve told my children at night before bed. They’re short, silly, and were completely improvised in the telling.

Dear Dragon and Pegasus

Dear Dragon and Pegasus,

This week we did something that we hadn’t done since the before times. We visited your école. The last time we were at the school was the sliver of time between getting over Covid and the complete shut down. It was February 12th, I believe.

Last time we went, Pegasus had just started walking and Dragon was so tiny.

This week was about Pegasus seeing a real classroom and playing with other kids his age. We also wanted to get Dragon excited for school next year. Dragon, you’ve been in digital school for almost three years and I think you’re stressed at the idea of changing.

People have been telling us that it would be better for the you two to be at school versus digital school.

I’ve been hesitant for a few reasons. First are the memories I have of being in grade school; I didn’t have a great experience and I really don’t want the same for you.

The second is more selfish, I’ll miss you. Right now I get to have lunch with you 3 times a week and hang out after. I also get to hear or be told what you did and I know that’ll change.

Change is inevitable and I know the best thing for Dragon is to go into in person school. I’ve been seeing signs that the screen combined with the sound quality is bothering you. You’re showing some pretty obvious signs of neurodiversity, which would be mitigated by having a teacher next to you and the resources at the school. I’m still worried about your temper and emotional regulation though. You also fidget more than I did at that age, which is saying something.

I’m not as convinced that Pegasus should be going into full day junior kindergarten. You are advanced in your language, math, and letters. Your small motor skills are excellent too. Unfortunately, your social skills are heavily influenced by your sister, so you’re more used to playing with kids rather than parallel play. During the open house, you actually got into a little fight with another kid. They didn’t want you to play with the kitchen and you really wanted to. You used your words, but they only spoke in partial phrases and didn’t. You ended up pushing the child almost twice your size against the wall. You did have fun and you would probably thrive with the right guidance.

Added to the fact that you are stubbornly refusing to fully potty train, I’m not sure it’ll be the best place for you. We definitely need to take you to the park and set up some play dates with other kids though.

All of this is complicated by my fear and stress. I’m trying really hard to not show it though. Covid is becoming a new normal and honestly I hate it. I’m still dealing with side effects, mostly breathing issues, from the first time I got it 3 years ago and I don’t want this for you. I was told that long covid seems to mostly get better with time, but I still worry about you both.

It was great seeing you playing with other people and I love how independent you were. You both checked in with us and wanted to share your joy, but you didn’t need us there.

Once again, things are changing and I don’t like it. I’m going to enjoy the next few months of us all being together as much as I can. I’ll try and store up the snuggles before they’re gone and appreciate the happy sounds before the house is too quiet.

I love you both so much,

Papa

Dear Dragon – Easter Bunny

Dear Dragon,

Last night in a desperate plea to not sleep, you asked me if the Easter Bunny hid the easter stuff or if I did. Here’s how that conversation played out:

Papa: What do you think?

Dragon: I think you do it. Am I right?

P: Why do you think that?

D: Because it would be a very long way for him to go all the way here and all the way back.

P (Trying not to laugh): Where do you think the Easter Bunny comes from?

D (With all the confidence of a 5yo): Very far away.

P: So why can Santa do it and not the Easter Bunny?

D (No hesitation at all): Because Santa has a magic sleigh and the Easter Bunny doesn’t. So am I right?

This is the point where I panicked and worried that I might say something that would cause you to stop believing in the Easter Bunny and/or Santa.

I told you that it was really well thought out and we’d talk about it the next day. That’s today as I write this letter. Then I said goodnight and ran away despite you still asking.

It only occured to me later that you seemed to firmly believe the Easter Bunny existed but that he can’t deliver all the stuff. I wonder if you think that he ships it to us?

As I write this, I need to go wake you, your brother, and your mother. I hope a good night’s sleep will make you forget the questions.

You’re very clever and absolutely adorable.

Love you little Dragon,

Papa

Dear Dragon – The Princesse

Dear Dragon,

For about three years, as of this writing, I have been telling you stories at night. They’ve been improvised and a lot of fun to tell. They started out very simple, with little girls getting lost and having tea with pixies, or rabbits who couldn’t jump, they expanded to Heroes, Legends, Fairies, and other Absurdities, and about a year ago, maybe less, you started asking for the same characters.

I wanted to help you with your French and I thought that adding some words would help. So I made up the Princesse, she started out as a simple character who discovered the servant’s tunnels in her castle and made friends with a kitchen maid called Amie.

From there, the cast expanded to include the brave Chevalier and a whole lot of magical creatures. There was a dragon kept as a furnace, another castle through the lake in the basement, grumpy wizards, aliens, a knitting ogre, and many others. It was serialized and adventurous. You loved the stories, begging me for more every night.

I added a one-off superhero and you loved her so much you named her MIghty-Girl and she became part of the main cast.

After a few months you asked about bad guys and I introduced the Shadows, a group of shadow monsters that the main characters accidentally released when they opened a treasure chest with a warning.

We went back to serialized for a while and then we added the Silver Fox, the Princesse’s arch nemesis and equal in intelligence. He was an alien like Mighty-Girl, but has super magic instead. She captured him eventually, but I drew it out for over two weeks. You were really excited about it. Later there were other villains; the Swan Sorceress, The Nightmares from Beyond, and the Evil Serpent.

We added lore about the great Wizards, Dragons, and Mermaids who created magic in the golden days, there was the glass pyramid in the Arctic with a castle full of zombies, the castle on the moon, the dragon palace that flew in the clouds, the mermaid kingdom, the floating city of mermaids and people, the great caves of friendly monsters, and the ancient ruins that littered the world.

I tried to have the Princesse win through brains, friendship, and kindness. She built hospitals, learned magic, and helped people and even changed bodies with a girl from our world who you called Rachael.

A few weeks before Halloween, you asked me to read some of the Disney Halloween stories instead and I agreed. This week, I asked if you wanted to go back to me making up stories, and you said no. You’d rather I keep reading short stories from your bookcase.

I know you really like being read to, but I’m sad that this story has ended. Maybe we’ll go back to me making up stories for you at night, but I fear the Princesse, Chevalier, and Mighty-Girl’s stories are over.

I wonder if you’ll remember them, or if like so many other things, they’ll fade away. Maybe someday I’ll write some of them down, but it won’t be the same.

All things change and I’ve never been a big fan of change.

I love you little Dragon,

Papa

Change in Schedule – Dear Pegasus and Dragon

Dear Pegasus and Dragon,

Your mum and I had a plan. It was a good plan. Until Dragon went to school we’d have your schedule be 11pm sleeptime and 11am wake up. This meant we had more time with you and the grandparents after dinner.

It worked really well and we were getting mentally prepared to change it when the pandemic and first lockdown hit. We decided that since mum was mostly homeschooling Dragon that we’d keep going.

Now that Dragon is going to be going to full time digital school next week (Yikes) we’ll be switching your schedule to 8pm bedtime and 8am wakeup time.

I’m kinda terrified about how it’s going to work. Worried that we’ve messed up your internal clock or something. Hopefully everything will be okay, but I definitely expect it to be a hard first few weeks.

As much as this past year or so has been terribly scary and more than a little frustrating, I’ve enjoyed the extra time we’ve had together. I’m not sure you’ll remember much from this year but between the homeschooling activities and the extra time at night to snuggle, I’m not going to forget.

This feels like a big change for us, but if we do it right you won’t remember it.

Love you both,

Papa (Éric)

Dear Dragon and Pegasus – Easter

Dear Dragon and Pegasus,

You both know by now that I’m not a religious man, but I love Easter. Both for the imagery of spring and rebirth and because of the little traditions.

When I was young my mom, and often brother, would set up a hunt. I don’t remember it all, but there were riddles and maps. It was awesome. It was so much fun.

Yesterday was Easter and we had a simple hunt, a free-for-all type of hunt. It was fun. So much fun that Dragon asked me to do another. When I said I could hide the empty eggs, she was ready to do it right away. It was seriously adorable.

There’s a special sense of wonder and joy that I get watching you both being exited and happy. It makes everything slightly better.

As you get older I’m planning on making the hunts more elaborate. I have so many ideas.

Thank you for your enthusiasm and your joy.

I love you!

Papa

Dear Dragon and Pegasus – Holiday Magic

Dear Dragon and Pegasus,

By the time you’re reading this you’ll know the truth about Santa. At the very least, you’ll think you do.

The winter holidays, in my opinion, are not about Santa, presents, decorations, or sappy movies. To me, they are about being with family and actually spending time with them. Hopefully we’ll be doing that a little all year round, but in December we hopefully have more time.

When I grew up, it meant that my big brother was home and I didn’t have to go to school. I was bullied my entire grade school by students and one teacher, so it was nice to be with my Mom and brother and not need to worry about it. We played video games, watched movies, cooked, and baked. My Mom struggled with depression and the holidays were a time she always seemed to be happier. I hope she was.

The magic was family, a sort of warmth that the holidays had. The holidays never lost their magic for me when I learnt about Santa; they dimmed when my Mom died, but are still magical.

Santa Claus is a myth, a lot of myths mushed together. From all over the world and influenced by many cultures (and ad campaigns). Both Santa and Christmas are tapestries woven from hundreds of myths, traditions, holidays, and ideals. From Festival of Lights, to Saturnalia, to Yule, and of course Solstice.

The spirit of these festivals is to celebrate surviving the long winters (not as long as they used to be now). The magic of them in is in giving and helping those in our communities. From donating clothing or money to giving gifts or even just giving a genuine compliment; that’s how you make the magic happen. It’s not the date, the decorations, or anything like that.

This year, Dragon, you decided to make a gift for Santa, and that’s by far the sweetest thought. You are both loving and generous and I hope that grows in you no matter what happens. I hope when you discover that Santa isn’t a person, that you discover that he’s a parable. That he is the triumph of survival, the warmth of family, and spirit of giving.

I hope that we’ve managed to spark the joy and magic in you during the holidays.

Happy holidays Dragon and Pegasus. I love you!

Papa