As the kids’ summer vacation inches along at a snail’s pace, my husband Michael and I have asked our nanny Alicia to work with both of our children to get them ready for school and engage them in something other than marathon television viewing. I have been particularly concerned that our 11 year-old son Matthew’s writing may not be quite up to snuff as he prepares to enter sixth grade, so I’ve provided Alicia with different essay topics for Matt to write about to hone his writing skills.

Alicia, who is an elementary education major, first asks Matt to brainstorm ideas for his essay.  Then she has him write a rough draft.  Lastly, she circles all the misspelled words and jots down suggestions where the essay requires more detail, transitional words, or a smooth ending before sending Matt off to write his final draft.

Earlier this week, Matt and I had a rough start to our day and had a pretty explosive argument over his failure to clean out the litter box for the umpteenth time.  As punishment, I took away all of Matt’s electronics for the day and instructed him to work on his writing.  When I arrived back home that evening, Matt and I talked about our riff and exchanged kisses and hugs.  The next morning, as I was making coffee in the wee hours while the rest of my family remained sleeping, I noticed Matt’s composition notebook on the kitchen counter.  I flipped through the notebook full of sketches and stories and was delighted to find an essay Matt had written the day before on one of the topics I had proposed: write an essay about a member of your family, describing how you picture him or her and how you feel about him or her.

Call me sappy, but I had to wipe away tears when I read Matt’s essay entitled “My Wonderful Dad” and promptly went upstairs and woke up my husband so I could read the essay to him.

Matt’s writing has shown marked improvement this summer, and I am proud of his effort.  More importantly, I am thankful that he recognizes how richly blessed he is to have a dad who is so engaged, admirable, and loving.

Here is Matt’s essay, exactly as it was written:

My Wonderful Dad

July 15, 2013

My dad is amazing and these are things you need to know about him.

The first thing you need to know is what he looks like. My dad has brown eyes and glasses with short brown hair. He is tall, he is 6 feet and 11 inches tall.

Next you should know what he likes. He likes many things such as: T.V., sports, outside, Pawn and Wiskers our cats, sports cars, and concrete.

My dad and I like to do many things together. But we love to play outside together. When we play outside we play football or racketball. My dad’s job is a constructural engineer. So he builds buildings. Most of those buildings are hospitals.

I have learned many things from my dad. One of the things is how to write. I am so happy he has shown me how to write and many more things such as facts about car parts that I will need to know in my life.

I also admire my dad. I admire my dad because he only wants to do the best he can do in life. I want to be just like him and show honesty and respect to myself and others. That is my dad and why he is the best dad and why he is loved so much.

Michael and my step-son Matt who was the Best Man at our wedding last year.

Michael and my step-son Matt who was the Best Man at our wedding last year.