Today you made me a blankie. And today I sort of needed a blankie.
So thank you. That was nice.
It’s been a while since I’ve written you — and I’m sorry about that. When you read these letters, someday, you might wonder what happened over the past few months.
Let me start by telling you what hasn’t happened: I haven’t stopped loving you. I haven’t grown disinterested in you. I haven’t grown disinterested in sharing with you the best advice I possibly can give to help you grow into a smart, brave, tough, savvy and kind person.
And no, I haven’t forgotten how to write, either.
I have been blessed with a little girl who, at just four years old, can understand things in ways well beyond her years. You understand subtlety, humor, cause and effect, direct and indirect consequences and even irony — and, quite importantly I think, compassion.
In short, it’s becoming rather rare that I have anything to write to you that I cannot simply tell you. But the details of what’s happening in our family’s life right now are still important. And since you’re still not old enough that you will remember most of these events and experiences, I should share them with you.
Admittedly, I’ve also been busier over the past few months than I have been at any time since you were born. Not even when I was a full-time student, a full-time journalist and your stay-at-home daddy was I as constantly occupied (and often pre-occupied) as I am today.
That’s tough in some ways, but in most ways it has been very good for all of us. The most important thing that you should know is that you and I still spend a lot of time together. During the winter recreation season, which appears to be coming to a close this week, we snowboarded together at least once a week. (More on this, I think, in another letter — but it suffices to say that you shred the pow like no other four-year-old on the mountain.) We still do breakfast together several days a week (including, still quite regularly, at our favorite haunt, The Park Café.) I regularly drop you off at school and pick you up a few hours later. When the weather cooperates, we play an imagination game called “Pick the Fruit.” I am coaching your soccer team and we stay for a few minutes extra, after your teammates have gone home, to continue practicing together. Your mother joins us at every Real Salt Lake home game and, on the weekends, our family regularly makes it a point to visit Liberty Park, the Hogle Zoo, The Tracy Aviary, Red Butte Gardens or the Utah Museum of Natural History. Sometimes we visit the symphony. We also love the library.
And sometimes, I admit, we just curl up together under a good blanket on our comfy couch and watch a movie. Your favorites, as of late, are Winnie the Pooh, The Muppets and The Wizard of Oz. (We’ve set aside the Star Wars movies, for now, after I finally accepted that years of exposure, nostalgia and simple stupidity had left me completely numb to how very violent that series is. (“Here, let me slice off your hand with this laser sword, and oh, by the way, I’m your dad.”) It took your very understandable paranoia around our toy lightsabers (and your mother’s admonition for me to wake up and smell the blue milk) for me to realize that you might not quite be ready for Star Wars yet. Sometimes I can be quite a half-witted nerf-herder.
I’m sorry. Where were we? Oh yes — I’ve been a bit busy.
As it turns out, I’m no less obsessed with being a good teacher as I was with being a good journalist. And as it turns out, it’s been hard to separate myself from my obsession with being a good journalist, so I keep taking on freelance projects. And that little side-job I was doing for the dropout recovery group in Salt Lake City? That’s turned into a nearly full-time gig (and I’m very proud of the work we’re doing, turning dropouts into diploma holders.) And in my spare time, I’ve been trying to run a little community news organization. And in the time that is left, I’ve been trying hard to be a good husband to your mother by taking her on dates and staying up late to watch adult movies…
… wait, no, that’s not what I mean…
… I just mean movies for adults — as opposed to films about stuffed bears, big puppets and fantasy lands located somewhere over the rainbow.
But in truth, it’s your mother who has probably gotten the shortest end of the stick. And she never complains about it. If I’ve got five minutes to spare in my day, she’d prefer I spend those with you or together with our whole family. She’s taken on more work around our home so that I can manage several jobs. Someday I’ll think of someway to repay her for what she does for us. You should too.
You meanwhile, are growing in all sorts of amazing ways. You’ve always been a reflection of your mother and I — and in many ways you always will be. But since beginning school, last fall, you’ve also begun to develop a personality and identity that is an amalgamation of your parents, your teachers, your classmates and your own unique characteristics.
It’s not always pretty. You’ve become a bit whinier. A bit pickier. A bit stingier. You’ve become a bit less brave and a bit more prone to screaming.
Just screaming. Over nothing.
Still, your mother and I marvel at the rarity of the moments that you give us grief. And set against the majority of times in which you simply impress the hell out of us, it’s hardly a trifle. (Nonetheless, it is our job to prevent trifles from becoming more than trifles, so we’re working with you to unlearn some of what you’ve learned.)
And yet, all these other wonderful things that you're learning are just, so...
Perhaps the most exciting recent development in your life is an insatiable desire to read. You’ve always liked books — but mostly for pictures and for us to read to you. We’ve forced you to practice actually reading the words yourself, and it’s always been something of a chore.
Until just a few weeks ago.
Then: An explosion. Suddenly, it seems, everything just clicked. You read and you read and you just won't stop. Pages and pages. Chapters and chapters.
Just for fun, when it all began, I took out a copy of A Tale of Two Cities.
“It was the best of times,” you read. “It was the worst of times.”
We’ll get to the rest of the words in that book in due time. Meanwhile, there are marvelous stories about Frog and Toad, Stuart Little and James and the Giant Peach.
You can read those stories now. And, in due time, these letters.
Which gets me to thinking…
… maybe I should write more.