Friday, July 18, 2014


Dear Spike:

I have this dream, once in a while, that makes me bolt awake and pretty much kills any chance of getting back to sleep:

You mother is out of town on some sort of a business trip. I’m sitting on the couch writing a lecture. Suddenly, I hear you screaming from the bathroom.

“Daaa-aaaadddd! It’s happening! What do I do?”

And that’s it. That’s the totality of the nightmare.

I wake up in a cold sweat and tiptoe into your room, just to make sure…

… yup, still seven years old …


… and then pace around the house until morning comes.

Even if it all starts happening early for you (and increasingly, research shows, it is for many girls) we’ve still got a couple years ‘til puberty, but I’m pretty much terrified nonetheless.

Up to this point, I’ve basically parented you the way I would have parented myself. That’s more or less my plan going forward, too. But as you begin the long, awkward and rampantly hormonal journey into physical womanhood, there are going to be a lot of times that I’m simply not going to know what to do.

So here’s the deal: I’m not going to pretend like I know anything at all about what you’re going through. And between now and then, I’m going to be working really hard on developing the humility and patience it’s going to take not to try to solve all — or any — of your problems.

But here’s the caveat: I’m not going to use the fact that I’m clueless as an excuse not to do anything at all. I’m not going to go into hiding. I’m not going to force your mother to take the brunt of all of the tough times. I’m going to be here.

I know you’re not going to like that sometimes. I’m going to work really hard to recognize and respect that.

Sometimes, I’ll screw up. I’ll give you space when what you really need is a hug. I’ll try to engage you in a conversation when what you really want it time to yourself. I’ll go to the store and buy every feminine hygiene product off the shelf and create an Internet playlist of how-to videos so that you know how to use them.

So far, I feel like I’ve been pretty good at this dad thing. Going forward, I know that there are going to be a lot of times that I’m just plain bad at it.

I know it’s a lot to ask, but I’m hoping you’ll grade me on the curve.

For now, though, I’m going to tiptoe into your room and peak in, just to make sure…

… yup, still seven.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014


Dear Spike:

I couldn’t find my headphones today, so I took an entire interview’s worth of notes with my left hand as I held my little mobile phone to my ear with my right hand. No problem.

The one-handed letter I’m now writing is proving a bit more difficult, but I wouldn’t change a thing about my current circumstance — left arm pinned helplessly behind your back as you sleep soundly on my chest.

It reminds me of how, when you were just a baby, you would sleep on my stomach and chest as we rocked together in the rocking chair, deep into the night and well into the wee hours of the morning, as I worked on a story meant just for you.

That story began: In a small house on the edge of a small town, a small girl knelt beside her bedroom window, folded her arms upon the sill, and sighed.         

I’ve read “Near Where The Lilac Grows” to you several times in the intervening years. Alas, it might have taken a back seat to Harry Potter on a list of your favorite books, but you still ask for me to read a chapter, now and then, and quote liberally from its pages.

“A pigeon! Is that what you think I am? A common street bird?”

Last week you asked me: “Was the Catlands really inspired by mommy’s bad eyesight?”

Yes, it was.

And a few weeks back, you wondered: “Does Amitri leave Lilac forever?
I suppose I don’t know.

You know, you won’t always sleep on my chest. I know this is the way things are and the way things are meant to be. But you’ll always have that book. And when you read it — if you read it — you’ll be connected to a time in our lives when we’d rock together, all night long, and collaboratively conjure magical beings and mystical lands.

It might not be Harry Potter, but it’s yours.

In newspaper reports, magazine articles, books and blogs, my writing has been read by millions of people. That’s good, I suppose.

The work that means the most to me, though, are the words I’ve written for just one person.

Sometimes those words come easy. Other times, like writing without the benefit of your dominant hand, it can be hard.

But when you give someone your words, it’s a gift you’ll share forever.