Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Dear Spike,

Tomorrow is a big day for you. A big day for us all, really. It’s the first day of kindergarten and, as such, the first day of a new stage in your life.

It’s not your first time at school. Last year, you attended a lovely pre-school — three days a week plus two days on either side of daycare in the same location. On most weeks, you were there for at least a few hours each day.

But you didn’t have to be. There were plenty of days that you and I decided to head up the canyon for a day of snowboarding, or take a hike in the foothills, or just stay home, turn on a movie, and snuggle on the couch in our pajamas. It was lovely.

But come tomorrow at 8:10 a.m., you’ll be expected to be in Ms. Gallagher’s room. And you’ll be expected to be there for the entire school day. And on Thursday you’ll do it again. And on Friday. And then again on Monday. And so on and so on and so on. And it won’t be so easy to skip out as it was last year, when on more than one occasion I recall you asking, “Daddy, are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

I often was.

Look, this isn’t a bad thing. It means you’re growing up, just a little bit. And when we grow — if we’re doing it right, at least — we take on greater responsibility. We learn to pick up our own toys. Then perhaps we earn a chore or two. Then we go to school, where we are expected to be cooperative and polite and curious and to play well with others. We learn and learn and learn.

Little by little we begin to accept more responsibility. And ultimately, we are able to give more care to others than we need ourselves. 

And if there’s a point to this life, I think that really must be it.

Already, you’re on your way. At your bedside tonight, after singing your lullaby, I leaned in, kissed your head and told you that I am proud of who you are and who you are becoming.

“Why?” you asked.

“Because,” I said. “You are smart, brave, beautiful, tough and very, very kind.”

“You always say that.”

“I always mean it.”

“And you always will?”

“Yes,” I said. “I always will.”

It came upon me, the other day, that true happiness is feeling as though you are where you are supposed to be. I’m happy a lot, lately.

I’m happy tonight. Happy for our family. Happy for you.

I know this transition might be a little rough. But I have a strong feeling that soon you will feel that you are right where you are supposed to be.

And if, on occasion, you don’t feel that way, don’t fret. Just turn to me, smile knowingly as you do, and say, “Daddy, are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

I often will be.