Monday, May 27, 2019


Dear Spike:

Today you are 12, and I find myself once again answering the kinds of questions that people ask parents when their children have birthdays.

"Ah," they say, "they grow up so fast. Why does the time have to move so fast?"

I usually nod, smile, and chuckle sadly.

"Why? Indeed," I say, because I know that for many people it is true that time seems to move so very quickly.

Maybe someday it will be this way for me, too. Perhaps one day I will look back on 16 years, or 18 years, or 21 years and say "ah, they grow up so fast. Why does the time have to move so fast?"

This has not been my experience. But since I know that's rather unusual, I will cherish and appreciate all of the years that feel like years. And I will cherish and appreciate that, since time only moves in one direction and we have not yet been so clever as to devise a way to get it back, I do not long to have any of those years back.

This is not because they were not good years. My, how good they have been. How much you have taught me. How many times you have made me laugh. How many hugs you have given, right when I need them, often when I do not even know that I need them.

But, as your mother is so fond of noting, each new year with you is her new favorite year with you. Mine too.

And this year, it seems, it is so especially true. You have developed such a quick wit, a quirky humor, and a wisdom the defies your youth. You have begun to hone your insatiable curiosity upon questions that matter.

You are shy, and yet you long to meet the world and practice every day to improve your Chinese and French.

You are quiet, and yet on the soccer pitch you are the loudest player. Calling for passes, directing runs, setting up plays. And you see things on that field that few players of your age — of any age, really — are able to see. (We record your goals on your soccer balls. I added them up last year. It was well more than 100 since you began playing.)

You are tiny but tough. Last week I grabbed you from behind unexpectedly. You punched me in the throat and I fell to my knees, stunned and breathless and in such pain. You apologized profusely, but once I could speak again all I could do was praise your strength.

You are kind and compassionate. You hurt for others who hurt. You thirst for social justice. You want to be a fighter and you are trying to figure out what that looks like in this world. I wish I could tell you there was plenty of time to figure that all out, but I'm not sure there is. Our world needs people who will fight for the tired, the poor, the huddling masses yearning to breathe free, for it seems we have still not embraced the promise, as Emma Lazarus wrote in "The New Colossus" and as it has been emblazoned on a plaque inside the pedestal of our Statue of Liberty.

And yet, you are still a little girl. Just twelve years today. And although the troubles of our world are not trifling, I pray that you can cherish and appreciate all of the remaining years of your youth. And I hope these years will feel like years for you, too.

Maybe at 16, or 18, or 21, you will say "yes, now it is time," and when you do I will love that version of you every bit as much as I love this version of you. And more.

But, for now, you still like to sleep between us, to draw pictures, to bake cookies, to ride rollercoasters. You still let me sing to you each night.

Someday, yes, you might move on from these things. And that is how it should be.

For now, though, I will cherish each day. I will appreciate each year. And I will look forward with joy to all of the days and years to come.