Sunday, August 28, 2011


Dear Spike,

The sky is falling in great wet sheets. Above the clouds, an angry voice screams. The night pulses with electricity.

But you are asleep in your bed. And you do not stir. Not as the lightning strikes. Not as the thunder booms.

On the eve of your second week of preschool, I think you are still exhausted by the first.

You made us proud. You didn't cry or protest when we dropped you off that first day — truth be known, there was little we could do to hold you back when that door swung open.

On the second day, a little boy said mean things to you. You resisted any temptation to respond in kind. So proud.

Yes, you are learning things there that we could not teach you here at home. Still, it comes at a cost. The days are long. And you haven't yet figured out how to use nap time for its intended purpose. You're so very tired.

I'm glad you're sleeping through this storm. You need your rest. Another week of school begins in just a few hours.

You're doing great.


Sunday, August 21, 2011


Dear Spike,

It is time.

Not just because you are now four and this is what four-year-olds do. You are. And it is. But you do not do things just because others do them. If you did, you would not be you.

But it is time.
Not just because I have taken a new job and, as such, will be unable to stay home with you. Indeed, my life is changing. And indeed, that will change yours. That is not the reason for this change.

But yes, it it time.

Not just because you have decided it is time. You have, of course, done just that. But you are, of course, only four. And four-year-olds — for all that they do — do not get to make decisions like this.

But yes, my dear and beautiful and brilliant daughter... my tiny little friend... my most important thing... it is time for you to go to school.

And why is it time? If not because you are four? If not because our lives have changed? If not because you really want to?

It is time, my child, because it is time. Because you are ready.

You are ready to learn things that your mother and I cannot teach you: How to make yourself heard above the din of a crowd. How to be yourself, even as you are surrounded by others who want and expect you to be like them. How to follow and how to lead.

These are not always easy lessons to learn. There will be some who do not like you, do not treat you well, do not value the things that you value. There will be some that you will follow, wrongly, into trouble — and you will be held accountable as though you did it all yourself. There will be some that will say and do things that make you angry — and you will be expected to show them kindness and compassion.

Yes, I expect much of you. Yes, I recognize that you are only four.

But you are the best parts of your mother and the best parts of me. And I don't mind saying that we're not half bad people, as people go.

In any case, the privileges you have in this world make you royalty. Much has been given to you; much is thus expected from you. No matter that some have more and do less. You are not those people.

You are you. And your mother and I have done everything we can do, to this point, to make you the best you possible.

Now, increasingly, it is up to you. And, of course, the rest of the world — for we do not learn and change and grow in a void.

I do not fear that influence. Yes, the world can be a very terrible place. But even before you arrived, we knew that we would love you more than anything in the world, and we would not have brought you into this world if we didn't believe that, in the great balance, there is always more good than bad.

There is always more hope than fear.

There is always more faith than doubt.

And there is always more love than hate.

For four years, we have been the ones who have led you to these lessons. Now, increasingly, the world will take your hand.

We are proud of you. We are excited for you. And we will always be here for you.

It is time.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Dear Spike:

Look, it's true: We named you — your real name, that is — after a professional soccer player. And yes, it's true: You were at your first professional soccer game before you even tipped the six-pound mark on the scales. And yes, it's true: I've got a soccer cleat tattooed on my right arm.

So it was much to my great joy that you slipped on your very first soccer jersey last week. You wanted number 4 — the same number as your father wore on nearly every team on which I played as a kid (although I think you simply wanted it because you are four years old.) The team roster had you assigned to number 3, but somehow you wound up with the digit of your choice. Score.

Skill wise, you've got this game down. But alas, pre-school soccer isn't much of a skill game. And bunch ball upsets you — as well it should.

But every time I see you on the field, looking hesitantly — and from afar — at the crush of boys and girls around the ball, I feel a bit panicked. What if, on the basis of this experience, you decide that soccer's not your thing?

Today I asked you what your favorite sport was. You said it was basketball. You've never played basketball. You've never watched basketball.

But there it was.

"How about soccer?" I asked you later on.

"Yes," you said. "Soccer is fun."

I guess that's good enough for now. As for the future, I suppose we'll see.

And if you do decide that it is not for you, I will not love you any less.

But no, you cannot change your name.