An Open Letter to my daughter, Sophia

Dear Sophia,

Yeah… this is weird. I’m writing to you on some message board rather than sending you an email (though I can do that too!), where a bunch of people you don’t know can read it, but it will… I hope… all make sense in the end.

I’ve been a member of this online community since before you were born, before it became a web presence, way back in the 1990s. The Straight Dope itself is a weekly newspaper column series written for an underground newspaper in Chicago starting in 1972. 20 years later a series of books (effectively compilations of the columns) were released, which is how I found out about the Straight Dope in the early 1990s. When America Online (AOL) became a thing, the newspaper (The Chicago Reader) founded the Straight Dope AOL online community sometime in 1997, 1998 or thereabouts. The board/forum migrated to the web in 1999 and the community has been here ever since, your dad officially joining the board sometime in 2001.

In short: Social Media is decades older than Facebook, and while I can go into quite a long digression about the history and evolution of internet communities, in the era prior to Facebook… say, 2000-2006… long form text message boards (and blogs) were the primary way people of like interests and personalities gathered… and the Straight Dope Message Board (SDMB) was where your Dad landed.

“What the hell does this have to do with me?” you’re likely (and rightly) asking yourself by now. And it’s simple: I have been here longer than you have been alive, and many of my thoughts and concerns of being your father are recorded here… and I thought you would like to know what I was thinking about you in the month after you were born, about your 4th grade education, about your college tour, more… there are over 200 different threads where I have mentioned your name (many of them throwaway references), and I’ve gone through them to pull out the ones of highest interest. You will be surprised at what is listed and what is missing – sorry, honey, no divorce insights to be found here – but I hope this helps you understand what it’s like being responsible for a child.

Being your father has been quite a journey and the greatest satisfaction of my life, Sophia… and the greatest challenge as well. I don’t know about the others on the SDMB, but I understand the Conway’s (KAC and George, who both retired at their 18yo daughter’s insistence), Lord knows I do: Your generation is formidable Sophia, and you represent your generation in this very well.

So, please, take your time honey, look at the conversations below, and feel free to join the SDMB if you want to rebut. :stuck_out_tongue:

With Love,


Sophia, there are about 41 different posts/threads where I mention you. I’m first going to list the topics – generally, these are discussions about you in one form or another. These will be in date order:

Oh, and if you want to reply – you gotta register!

Thoughts upon my daughter’s first month, November 2001, my first thread about you. If you were going to register and bump a thread, this would be the one to bump.

Driving With Baby, where your Dad shows his cluelessness. Hey, I survived! :stuck_out_tongue:

My two year-old won’t say her name. Every kid has their power struggle, this was yours at this time.

A Letter to my child’s Kindergarten Teacher – Your Opinions Please. Not one of my better moments came to be one of my better moments. I was upset at your kindergarten teacher over something which is now (and was then) irrelevant to your long-term development… but it’s hard to see that in the moment, Sophia. Fortunately, before I executed Plan Rant, I put the rant on here and the kind people of the SDMB talked me off that ledge.

Gallifrey 23 thread, our first Gallifrey. This is the Gallifrey where you made the soaps and lotions and sold them door to door, raising about $50, $70.

Gallifrey 24. This had the tour of Ignition Creative, where you met the people in charge of marketing for a number of films, including a Jack and the Beanstalk movie where you were given control of the production board to change the color of 1 flower which appeared on the screen for about 2 seconds. They offered you a job and I expect them to honor their promises. :slight_smile:

Your Christmas Shopping Tragedies and Success, or, My Hobbit Adventure. Remember the hobbit hole you had on your wall? This is the story of how it came about.

Educators I got some good news about my daughter and I’m having trouble believing it. Another one where your Dad got it wrong, effectively I was surprised at your reading score given how little you read.

Glow Up.


Sophia’s College Tour. It’s pretty much as the title says – your college tour from last summer (2019).

College COVID Letter. Remember that email I sent to St John’s (and the other schools) last March, asking them their COVID plans? I posted it here, too, asking for comments. Some were complaining about my parenting style- thoughts?

Our COVID College Conundrum. About the struggle it was to get you enrolled, registered, quarantined, and etc.

All right, that was it for the threads. If you read through them, great! If you want to respond, go ahead: register and respond!

The next links will be to direct posts in threads started by other people. For most of these, you will only have to read the linked post to find what I said about you, your education, your activities, etc. Again, they will be in chronological order – I just figured that made the best sense from a reading perspective.

When you were 2 years old, you played Hide and Seek with a cast member from Buffy the Vampire Slayer at a comic con in Cleveland, OH.

Your first movie-going experience, at the age of 2.

My thoughts on being your Dad at the age of four. As you can tell, I was all in. In the same thread, there is also this post.

Your love of film started early. When you were three, you saw 13 movies in the theater. Hell, Sophia, I wasn’t taken to my first movie until I was 7. And I had to walk in the snow! Uphill! Both ways!

OMG, Sophia, it’s the ET story!

Your mother and I had a different approach to your schooling than Aunt Beth had for her kids’. This might be a bit eye-opening to you, seeing how other kids were educated.

LOL, you’re not going to like this one: Ways your kids are currently driving you insane. The talking did get better, tho.

Someone asked how being a parent changed your life, I just turned my response into a Sophia Compliment Post

So, Sophia, are you smart because your parents raised you to be smart or because you have “smart” genes? Fuck all if I know, kid.

LOL, at the age of ten you identified the Wilhelm Scream.

Didja ever wonder why you weren’t into sports? It was pretty much a decision made by your mother and me to steer you away from them.

Ahhhh, here is where I recounted a bit of how you made money for one of the Gallifrey’s

Remember that time that you and Angelica (from 4 doors down) asked me to write something… and I found out I forgot how to write? LOL!

Sophia, like I advised in this post, I was thinking about your future college education at the age of 4. Hell, 1.

LOL, that period of time you refused to comb your hair.

You’ll like this one! Sophia’s sense of humor.

Your 6th-grade assignments could be intense

Some more thoughts on education! (you were 12)

We should probably talk about this one. There’s a reason why we’ve always been supportive of your artistic visions and dreams, Sophia, and this little post touches on that.

Remember when we sat down and calculated how much you cost on a daily basis? And how you reacted, by shrugging and making your own money? You are very good with money, Sophia, and part of the reason why is because we never made it a mystery: Shit costs, effort earns, and that’s that.

Your generation consumes music in a manner completely different from ours, and I have zero problem admitting you know more music than I ever did at any given time in our lives. At 8, you knew more music than I did at 8. At 16, exponentially more than 16yo me.

Work Ethics, Sophia, and Dad.

One of the rare joys of parenting is when your kid is old enough to share something with her, one that you couldn’t share before because of subject matter, emotional unawareness, etc. I was thrilled, Sophia, that we were able to see a first night showing of a Quentin Tarantino film.

I love you Sophia. And there will be more posts, more threads, because… as I said in that very first post, about my thoughts when you were a month old… because you are still the most fascinating person on this planet to me and, I’m sure, your mother.


That’s really Precious John.. Hello Sophia!

When I went into the hospital for an induction, was in labor for 27 hours, and ended up with an emergency c-section, after 2 attempts at delivery with forceps (half his head was out, but his shoulders were stuck), and an extended hospital stay, unknown to me, there was an anxious, 100+ post thread on Fathom wondering what had happened.

I CP’d the whole thing, and still have it, almost 14 years later. The boychik knows about it, but hasn’t (to my knowledge) read it. I have read it many times, though.

I am so glad I CP’d it, and have a file on my computer.

John (which is also my son’s name), consider copying the files of your old posts, because you never know what might happen.

(RIP, Opal)

The new Board software allows us to download our entire posting history into a CSV file, which was how I was able to compile the above as quickly as I did, so all of my posts… not just these… are archived. So no matter what happens, I’ll always have my words to/about her.

How sweet. You are braver than me.
I’ll squirrel away my mentions of the lil’wrekker and Grandwrex, on the Dope.

They can read it when I’m dead.
Yep, that’s what I’ll do.

My kids were 14 and 16 when I joined. Now I was on the old rec board (I remember posting "Spanking the Monkey=?), and that was not long before I met the future Ms. P. I’ve mentioned both our boys, both good and bad things.

Have you consulted with Sophia about this?

Lol, what? Of course not. Why would I?

Google Photos

Whew, so relieved Sophia’s ok with this (my kids would not be).

I plan to put my Doper name and password in my will, but I can guarantee that neither kids nor wife will even peek at my Words O’ Wisdom here.

(I’d feel bad if they immediately followed me to heaven… “What are you doing here so soon, son?” “Well, you left your SDMB login, so I read some, and, well… you bored me to death.”)

That little cake icon showed up next to my name today, and I thought about it. I’ve been posting here longer than I’ve been married and longer than my kid has been alive.

But I still have most of the cars and motorcycles from back then.