Thursday, December 25, 2008


Dear Spike:

I often wonder what Jesus Christ would think if he were to meet his modern followers. I suspect he wouldn’t be particularly proud of some of them.

In his name they judge and they hate. Sometimes they kill.

They spend millions of dollars trying to ban abortion. They pass laws to ensure homosexuals can’t marry. They even fight to make sure that the 10 Commandments get a prominent place in city parks and to protect “Merry Christmas” from being supplanted by more secular holiday salutations.

I certainly cannot tell you that those Christians who are battling to promote their evangelical agenda are wrong. Just the same, they can’t tell you they are right.

So what would Jesus do? Truth is, most of us are just guessing. As to most of the issues of our modern world, more than two millennia after Christ’s birth, there really is no clear answer.

Save this one:

Time and again, Jesus commanded his followers to love their fellow disciples, their neighbors and even their enemies.

Even if you decide not to believe in the magic and majesty of Christianity, when it comes time to choose a guidebook for your life, the words Christ spoke aren’t a bad option.

But instead of parsing his parables, seeking guidance on complicated modern issues in a 2,000-year-old book, I suggest you start with the simplest commandment he gave.

Love your neighbor.

Start with the person next door. Then move onto every person on your block. Then move onto every person in this world.

A lot of things that we overcomplicate get worked out when love is our guiding force.

For me, Christmastime is a good time to think about how well I’ve been following the Golden Rule — and to recognize that, until I get that right, I’ve got no business whatsoever trying to press my moral agenda on anyone else.


Sunday, December 21, 2008


Dear Spike:

We weren't sure how you'd react, but my money was on "scream and flee."

But when it came time for you to meet Winnie the Pooh, we could hardly hold you back. You ran into his arms like a bear to honey.

Your mother and I have always been partial to Disneyland. But as it turns out, it's about 38 times better when you do it with a little kid. And since this was your very first sojourn to the long-purported Happiest Place on Earth, it was especially fun to watch you take it all in.

You're sleeping now, after a long day of Disney, and no doubt dreaming of dancing dolls, drunken pirates and spinning teacups.

And I'm only worried abut one thing:

How do I explain to you, tomorrow, that we don't get to do this every day?


Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Dear Spike:

Your version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star:

"Tinkle, tinkle, lil'ar.
Wona bona wona wa,
Hupa bupa pupa high
soma dimon sky.
Tinkle, tinkle, lil'ar.
Wona bona wona wa."

I like it better that way.


Dear Spike's Friends:
She's a bit camera shy, but I'll work on getting her to sing it on video.
spike's dad

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Dear Spike:

I'm not above deal-making.

Some folks might call it bribery. I prefer "free market education." You've got a certain supply of good behavior. I have a high demand for this product. The invisible hand takes it from there.

But lately, I've been thinking we might just need a little more regulation. Someone is manipulating the markets.

In general, your biggest incentive for using the potty is that you need to go. And so I don't usually have to offer anything more than a congratulatory "hip hip, hooray!" for you to do what you need to do.

But when we're in a rush to get somewhere — and I know you need to "go before you go." The market takes over. Lollypops get involved. Sweet, sweet capitalism.

That was the case yesterday, when I needed to get you off to the babysitter so that I could make an afternoon appointment. I stripped off your bottoms, sat you on your little potty, and waited for the action to begin.

No deal.

"Lolly?" I asked.

"Lolly!" you said, and held out your hand.

"You need to pee first," I said.

Generally, this is all that it would take to induce a tinkle. But you just didn't have to go. And this obviously was causing a crisis in the market. Now I had the supply. You had the demand. But you just didn't have the capital you needed to complete the transaction.

And so what did you do?

You lied.

"Hip hip hooray!" you squealed, still sitting on the pot. "Hip hip hooray!"

"Did you go?" I asked.

"Hip hip hooray! Tinkle! Tinkle!" you answered.

I handed you the lolly and you popped it into your mouth, still sitting on the potty.

I turned to go and invited you to come, but your little butt remained firmly planted in its seat. It was only then that I realized I'd been taken in an elaborate Ponzi scheme.

I think there's grounds for some sort of federal investigation, but given the fed's record, of late, I guessing you're probably safe for now.


Friday, December 12, 2008


Dear Spike:

Your mother and I were chatting in the kitchen when we suddenly realized that you'd disappeared.

We checked the bathroom, the living room, the dining room and your bedroom...

... and then we heard a rustling sound coming from our room — where you had overturned your mother's jewelry box and were busy trying on her necklaces and bracelets.

Quite cute — save for the fact that you'd managed to tangle up all the chains into one of those mind-numbing Chinese sculpture puzzles.

Your mother was not happy.

I don't wear her jewelry, so I just had a nice, long schadenfreudian belly laugh.


Monday, December 8, 2008


Dear Spike:

Snow today. Lots of it.

Unfortunately, you and I were stuck inside for most of the day, as I chased a breaking story and you played hide and seek with your stuffed cat, Chairman Meow.

But tomorrow, my little friend, is another (snowy) day. And I think we're overdue for a snowman!


Sunday, December 7, 2008


Dear Spike:

You were sleeping between your mother and I. And we were sharing a plate of french fries.

We were almost finished when you suddenly bolted upright and stared down at the nearly empty plate.

"Some?" you asked, reaching for a fry.

You popped the fry in your mouth and began to chew, but your eyes rolled back in your head and you fell backward. When you hit the pillow, you bolted up again, eyes open once more, and reached for another fry.

You were able to down three or four more before your eyelids finally won the battle and you fell back asleep — with a content little smile on your ketchup-stained face.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Dear Spike:

I don't know how it happened or when it happened.

But I know why it happened: The sun rises and sets and rises again. The moon comes and goes, waxes and wanes. The Big Dipper — that simple, stalwart sign under which I fell in love with your mother — spins round and round and round again.

Time passes. Children grow.

You're no longer a baby. You're a genuine little girl.

The pigtails may have had something to do with it — not with your transformation from infant to toddler but with my late-in-coming recognition of that change. Your mother fretted over the haircut we gave you until she found that she could gather up your remaining locks into splendid tufts on either side of your perfect little skull. The effect is rather devilish. Naughty. And I dare say it suits you, kiddo. But, alas, it's the hairdo of a little girl.

You talk like a paid-by-the-case public defender who has borrowed just a taste of her client's meth. A thousand words a minute. Ten thousand. A whole dictionary of animals, colors, shapes, names.

Nouns. Lots and lots and lots of nouns.

Our last stroll around the park sounded something like this:

"Tree. Car. People. Running. Doggy. Doggy! Doggy!! Please doggy! Ah, Doggy. Pet? Pet. Doggy. Bye bye. Tree. Sky. Cold. Cold. Daddy! Cold! Daddy! Thank you. Tree. Running. Bike. People. People. People! Doggy. Doggy? Doggy! Doggy!!!!!!!!!"

And you understand. You really understand. Enough to follow directions. And enough to be maddeningly obstinate. You know "no." Oh no, how you know "no."

You play games. You sing songs. You know our daily routine. Even still, you cry when you mother leaves for work in the morning — not, as I once believed, because you fear she'll disappear forever, but rather because you know very well that she'll be back and you know how much you'll miss her while she's gone.

You ask questions. You make statements. You tell jokes. All in one- and two-word bursts.

You run. Ready. Set. Go. You run. Sometimes you hold my fingers and let me run along.

I'm chasing you now, little one. When did it happen that I started chasing you? When did any of this happen? It's all such a beautiful blur.

Sometimes I wonder how on God's Green Earth it all came to this, but mostly I just laugh and smile and marvel at how damn fun it all is.

I do not lament the days behind us. You and I and your mother are making the best of what we've been given. And when every minute is better than the last, why would I stop to fret over the passing of time?

Time passes. Children grow.

You're no longer a baby. You're a genuine little girl.

And I couldn't be a happier father.