Dear Mrs. Eckert...

Connor Dash O’Neil enjoys time with his beloved Kay-Kay.

This coming week, Wednesday, August 21, 2019, to be exact, our little family will celebrate a milestone when Connor Dash O’Neil crosses the threshold into kindergarten.

He’ll be attending Drayton Hall Primary School where his teacher will be Mrs. Eckert.

While I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Eckert, I’ve heard a lot about her and I’m impressed.

But just so Connor’s educational journey continues flowing smoothly, I’m sending the following letter to the woman who will play such an important role in our lives this coming year.

Dear Mrs. Eckert,

You don’t know me, but I feel like I’m already acquainted with you.

You see, I’m Connor Dash O’Neil’s grandfather. My correct name is “D” and I would be delighted if you addressed me as such.

This coming Wednesday, Connor will enter your kindergarten class in all his glory, and if I know Connor, it will indeed be a glorious entrance.

For the past five years, he has been enrolled at Carousel, the best daycare/pre-school in America. Recently his teacher there has been “Mr. Floyd,” and you might as well know, he’ll be a tough act to follow. Mr. Floyd is a retired Navy Seal, rides a Harley to school, and has tattoos.

At Carousel, Connor and his buddy Noah have pretty much run the show. Now don’t get me wrong. Both Connor and Noah are typical kids, with more energy than the proverbial barrel of monkeys, but Mr. Floyd is wise enough to entrust his charges with various responsibilities in the classroom. As such, the children enjoy ownership of their surroundings and take pride in their work.

Connor revels in this type of atmosphere and, if allowed, will take it to other areas of his life. For example, yesterday evening, on a visit to the local library, without being told, he straightened up the children’s room, picking up all the toys, putting away the books, and aligning the chairs. On his way out, he told the main librarian, “You’re going to like what you see in there!”

Mr. Floyd and the staff at Carousel have already taught Connor his ABC’s, numbers, the names of all the planets and continents, and the identities of all sorts of animals. They have visited the aquarium numerous time, toured countless museums, and dropped in on the petting zoo on a periodic basis.

There’s nothing about dinosaurs he doesn’t know and Lord help you if you aren’t up to date on Power Rangers and Avatar.

As a former teacher myself, I know there will be other children under your care who might not know all these things and that it will be your responsibility to bring everyone up to the same level of learning. Perhaps Connor could help you! Just a thought.

He has the attention span of a gnat...just so you know. It’s always good to have another activity or two waiting in the wings. A bored Connor is not a happy Connor and you sure don’t want that to happen.

Although he only turned 5 last May he looks like he’s about 10. He’s tall and lean with feet the size of small boats. He has absolutely no waistline. I’ve suggested “Jethro pants,” complete with a rope belt, but his mom firmly vetoes that fashion thought.

As thin as he is, Connor eats like a teenager. His mom, who, by the way, is the best mother in the world, is already considering a second job in order to keep him from starvation. He’s quite a carnivore and shies away from vegetables as if they were filled with arsenic. His idea of a tasty vegetable is a potato chip.

However, he does love that Low Country staple—beans and rice. At Carousel, Miss Lucille and Miss Jill know that and often package the day’s leftovers to send home with him. He’ll eat two or three bowls at one sitting and then prowl in the refrigerator for fresh raspberries or blueberries.

On rare occasions, he’ll “stub up” and you might as well know up front it’s not a pretty sight. Just be firm, loving, and quiet, and he’ll soon get over it. Personally I think he gets that trait from his grandmother’s side of the family, but that observation will remain between you and me.

For the most part, he’s a loving child, one who recognizes hurt and need in others. On a recent trip to Dollywood, we found ourselves caring for a little five-year-old blonde girl who was sobbing her heart out. She had become separated from her family. Connor put his arm around her and told her everything was going to be alright. I’ve never been prouder.

Mrs. Eckert, I know you have a ton of things to do between now and Wednesday as you get ready to begin another year. You already have my sincere appreciation and admiration. Anyone who has the patience to teach kindergarten has to be an angel on earth.

I’ll close by saying we’re about to entrust the most precious member of our family to you. Please love him, nurture him, and guide him to the best of your abilities. He’s our next generation and perhaps someday will sit in the White House! (Right now he wants to be a policeman, but career goals do change.)

Whatever career he chooses, he’s our Connor Dash and we’ll be right here if you need us.

Sincerely,

Duay “D” O’Neil

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