Friday, August 20, 2010


Dear Spike:

It's not always easy having a daughter as intelligent as you. But it's often funny:

"Can you tell me something about dinosaurs?"

"Dinosaurs are oviparous!"

"Wonderful! Can you tell me something else that is oviparous?"


"Great! What else?"





Thursday, August 12, 2010


Dear Spike:

Your mother goes back to work this week, which means you and I are about to start spending a lot more time together.

I always look forward to the summers — not because I don't like spending time with you, but because I know how much your mother relishes that opportunity, each year, after nine hard months of splitting her energy between you and a bunch of other people's kids.

By the end of the summer, though, I'm always ready to step back into my work-at-home daddy shoes. I love making you breakfast in the morning. I love our walks to the park. I love reading together and learning together.

Museums. Playgrounds. Movies. I love it all.

Of course, it's not all fun and games. There is actually some working involved in being a work-at-home dad. And this year I'll be balancing fatherhood with not just one job, but two. Then, come January, I'll be teaching a class at Utah Valley University — and that's when sleep will really turn optional.

To do all this, I'm going to need your help. And I'm not worried at all that I won't get it. You're a good kid — the best I know. I'm proud of what that says about your mother and I as parents, but I also know that it says plenty about you. You're kind and considerate. You're intuitive and thoughtful. And you've gotten pretty good at finding suitable diversions when my attention is suddenly taken away by a ringing phone or beeping e-mail alert.

But I'm going to do my damnedest to make sure you never feel like you've been forgotten. I'm very aware that this is likely the last year that you and I will get to share this little arrangement, as next year you'll be off to preschool for several days of the week.

I want to make the most of this.

So here we go. One more great run. You and me, kid.

You and me.


Thursday, August 5, 2010


Dear Spike:

I don't know if this is a Brown v. Board of Education moment. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's not.

When a federal judge struck down California's ban on same sex marriage, yesterday, an appeal was a foregone conclusion. Ultimately, this fight will go to the Supreme Court. And maybe then we'll have a ruling worthy of the history books.

But I don't want to discount what happened yesterday, either, because it's a good example of why, as frustrated as I often am with this country, I still believe in it.

Our founders took a pretty bold leap of faith when they decided to establish the United States as a democracy. In doing so, they put decisions about our collective welfare into the hands of the collective. They trusted people to do the right thing. And often we do.

So democracy can be a beautiful thing. But it can also be a terrible thing in which the rights of minorities are crushed by the democratic rule of the majority. And that's why we have a Constitution, which enumerates the basic rights and freedoms that no mob of a majority can simply take away.

And since our founders couldn't have anticipated all the ways in which our world would change, we have judges. They decide, based on an examination of the facts of a case, the weight of legal precedent and their interpretation of the Constitution as it applies to our modern world, what our rights are.

In this case, the judge in California concluded – correctly, I believe — that a majority of California voters could not take away the rights of a minority.

It's possible that, on appeal, the Supreme Court could decide that the California vote was right and proper. But although I would be disappointed in that verdict, it would not necessarily shake my confidence in our system.

That's because, just as our courts have the ability to act as a Constitutional check over our democracy, our democracy can act as a moral check over our courts.

Ultimately, I believe, an overwhelming majority of Americans will understand that love is an institution of consenting individuals (and, if they choose, of their God) — not of the government. And when that happens, the legal precedent that once allowed a state to ban non-traditional marriage, by democratic vote, will be the same standard which would allow us to change our minds.

Is that a long way to go to do what is right? Perhaps. But I suppose if it were any easier, then it wouldn't really be so historic, would it?


Sunday, August 1, 2010


Dear Spike:

You tiptoed into our room this morning with your big brown eyes and even bigger hopes.

"May I have some chocolate milk?" you asked.

"You may have some plain milk," your mother replied. "You had chocolate milk last night before you went to bed.

"But," you pleaded, "I really don't want plain milk. I want a little bit of chocolate milk."

"I'm sorry," your mother responded. "But you are an addict."

"If I could just have a little bit of chocolate milk, I could be very happy today," you said.

"Yes," your mother said. "That is what an addict would say."

We're looking for a 12-step program for you.