Friday, September 25, 2009


Dear Spike:

It was an evening I'll never forget.

I was just finishing up my work for the day when you walked into the room with a suggestion.

"Daddy, you want to go to a movie with me?"

"Watch a movie? Sure, tonight we can do that."

"No," you said resolutely. "Not watch a movie. Go to a movie with me."

I don't know where you got that idea, but I liked it. I liked it a lot. I hopped online to see what was playing — and was pleased to see that Hayao Miyazaki's latest film, "Ponyo," was playing at the small theater just down the street from our home.

An idea began to take shape.

"Would you like to go on a date with me?" I asked.

"Yes please!" you replied.

And our adventure began.

First, we decided, we needed to dress up.

You chose your brown velvet dress, silver beaded necklace and cranberry shoes.

"You look fancy," I said.

"Thank you," you relied.

I put on a suit, my panda bear tie and a fedora.

"You look dapper," you told me.

"Thank you," I replied.

And with that, we set out on our date.

Our first stop was the candy store. You chose a pineapple chocolate and I picked out a mint. As usual, the lady behind the counter let you choose a sucker from the box.

"Yellow!" you decided.

Then we went to the coffee shop for a pre-movie drink. You got a banana-chocolate mlk with whipped cream.

And then we headed next door, bought our tickets, and walked into the nearly empty theater to watch our show.

You loved it. I was just confused. And by the end, we were both hungry — so we walked across the street to get some Lebanese food.

We ordered a sampler platter and a orange blossom limeaid and chatted about the film. After you had explained it to me, I wasn't so confused anymore.

When we were done, you asked for the bill.

"Check please!" you said when the waitress came near.

She brought it to you and then stood there waiting to see what you'd do with it.

"Here you go, daddy," you finally said, handing me the bill.

I'd been hoping to go Dutch, but I really didn't mind paying for such great company. I signed the bill and lifted you from your seat. And when we walked out, I took note of all the other tables and was proud to recognize that I had the prettiest date of anyone in the room.

We walked home together, hand-in-hand.

And I was the happiest guy in the world.


Thursday, September 17, 2009


Dear Spike:

Me: Why are you crying?

You: Because I'm sad.

Me: Why are you sad?

You: Because I'm unhappy.

Me: Um, OK. Why are you unhappy?

You: Because I'm sad.



Dear Spike:

It was a bit of a rough day today — well, OK, it was a really rough day. You couldn't seem to stop whining — even when there was nothing in particular to whine about.

We have a no whining rule in our home — and you know it — so you spent a lot of time in the time-out corner. That, of course, just seemed to make you whine more.

You wanted to watch movies, to play in our bed, to have a tea party. All of these things are treats, though, for little girls on their best behavior — so I had to say no. And that, of course, just seemed to make you whine more.

Some folks might find our way of parenting a bit absurd. We don't spend a lot of time telling you what not to do. And unless you look like you're going to be badly injured — say, by running out in the middle of traffic — I don't stand in the way of your bumps and bruises.

Most of the time, when you do something wrong, nature punishes you.

When She's busy, I'm here. And I don't give you a whole lot of second chances. When you do something wrong, I address it and punish it immediately. That way there's no doubt about what I expect of you.

But today was tough. There was obviously something wrong - something I couldn't identify. But rules are rules. So if you're not hurt or sick, you're not aloud to whine.

"Dogs whine," I've told you, again and a again. "Little girls do not whine."

Sometimes it's tough to stick to your guns. Not only because it's simply no fun to punish the person you love more than anything in the world, but because it's just plain hard work. And sometimes — like today — it doesn't seem to work.

But rules are rules.

Let's hope tomorrow is a better day.

For the both of us.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Dear Spike:

You: "May I have some more bread?"

Your mom: "Hey, you took my bread!"

You: "Thank you, mommy, you are very helpful."


Sunday, September 13, 2009


Dear Spike:

Your mother and I took turns corralling you back into bed tonight.

Each time, you reemerged at the door of your bedroom in your two-sizes-too-big piggy pajamas and carrying a different combination of blankets, pillows and stuffed animals in your arms.

And each time, when we'd scoop you up and put you back into your bed, you'd try a different plea, pitch or protest.

My personal favorite of the night: "No, daddy. I don't want to be independent!"


Friday, September 11, 2009


Dear Spike:

One of the side effects of being tired is feeling crabby.

One of the side effects of being a toddler is the inability to say certain words.

Which is why you've been trotting around the house, all day, saying, "I'm crappy. I'm crappy! I'm crappy!!!"


Tuesday, September 8, 2009


I understand 10 o'clock.

Eleven, sure.

Even midnight.

Sometimes you just have trouble falling asleep. I get that. I have the same problem.

But 4:30 in the blessed a.m.?! Are you kidding me?

I'm at a total loss here. I know we've taken some wrong turns when it comes to your sleeping routine. Summer came and we got soft on your schedule. We caved (blissfully, no less) to requests to rock you to sleep every night. Sometimes we let you sleep in our bed with us following a family movie night.

But last night, you broke all records. You were in an out of bed until just before dawn. And I was there by your bedside (and sometimes, at your request, even nestled into your tiny green bed with you.) I sang to you. I told you stories. I even tried ignoring you altogether.

But no sand.

Now, less than one bleary-eyed day later, it's 11:30 p.m. and I'm afraid that I'm losing another battle. You insist that "I'm not sleepy" when I put you down in your bed, but promptly pass out when I hold you, rock you and pet your little head. And then, when I try to put you down, it's "I'm not sleepy," all over again.

I'm not completely against using duct tape at this point to keep you in bed. Or chloral hydrate.

It's time to sleep, sweet one. It's time for all of us to sleep.


Saturday, September 5, 2009


Dear Spike:

You: "What's this, mama?"

Your mother: "That's a ball gown."

You: "A ball gown?"

Your mother: "That's right. Where do you think you might wear a ball gown?"

You: "To the ball game!"


Thursday, September 3, 2009


Dear Spike:

This week we'll start work on your Uncle Mikey's apartment. The plan is to remove an upstairs window and about a foot and a half of bricks underneath it to make way for a new door. We'll also be building a small balcony and staircase so that he has a private entrance. After that we'll blow out his closet and run some pipes for a bathroom. And finally we'll knock down some walls to make more space in the room for some bookshelves and a new closet.

"Wow daddy," you say, "I didn't know your many, many, many, many, many talents extended into the world of home improvement."

OK. Well... truthfully... that's probably not the case. And while I'm proud of some of the very minor projects we've done around the house, we've never attempted anything like this before. But we're not rich enough to hire someone else to do it — and even if we were, I think I'd still like the challenge.

If you ask me, one of the best parts of life comes when you get out of your comfort zone — when you ask yourself to do something knowing that you might not be the best at it.

To paint when you're not a painter.

To dance when you're not a dancer.

To build when you're not a builder.

Sometimes you're going to fail — and there are plenty of lessons to be learned from failure, too. In fact, there's so much to learn from failure that you can never really completely fail.

And sometimes, you're going to succeed. Not only will you exceed your expectations, you'll exceed all hopes as well. You'll paint like Rembrandt. You'll dance like Fred Astair. You build like... um... like Bob, I guess.

You never know unless you try. Sometimes that means picking up a paintbrush. Sometimes that means picking up a set of tap shoes.

And for us, this week, it means picking up a sledgehammer.

Keep you head down, little one, this might get a little bit dusty.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Perfect Day