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  • Writer's pictureMoss Kaplan

Dear New York Times

Dear New York Times,

This morning I woke to an email from you thanking me for my op-ed submission. I'm writing to say that I did not send you an op-ed, despite the fact that it does appear that at the stroke of midnight, an op-ed was sent from my email account. For obvious reasons, this was concerning. Was I sleeping-walking and sending op-eds in the middle of the night without knowing it? If so, then what else was I doing in the wee-hours when I thought I was just sleeping poorly? I checked my credit card account for unusual charges, and unless spending several hundred dollars at Trader Joe's mostly on items covered in dark chocolate can be considered unusual, everything looked normal.

I realize at this point you're probably asking yourself, "But is the op-ed any good and should we publish it?" In my humble opinion, yes, it's excellent, and to make matters more confounding, I wrote it. It's true I have sent you many op-ed essay submissions in the past, sometimes several in a single day, but rest assured I did not send you this one. So who did? In my house, the person to solve this mystery is my twelve-year old son, Toby. He is a whiz-banger on all things internet-related. If anyone could tuck into the code and track down an IP address from a dark-web outfit running out of Slovenia, it would be Toby. So imagine my surprise when I barge into his room describing said mystery, corrupted laptop in hand, and my son says, "I sent it."

"Why were you up at midnight?"

"I scheduled it to send at midnight."

"You hacked into my email account?"

"Hacked is a very strong word, Dad."

"Why? Why? Why?"

"Because you're a great writer and I want you to be famous."

Ambivalence might be a hard word to spell correctly, but it's a familiar feeling, especially for parents who are currently stuck with their children twenty-four hours a day. Had my son done a bad thing? Yes. Did my heart swell up with love for the boy who took some initiative and wants his daddy to make his mark on the world? Yes. Did it make me very sad that my son doesn't think I'm enough of a success just as I am, trying to be a good husband and father, honorably posting my mini-essays on, The-Little-Website-That-Toby-Built? Yes, it did. But we are in challenging times—up is down, down is up—all of us struggling mightily to find meaningful ways to provide consequences for our children. As I'm sure you can appreciate, the old methods no longer work. Send him to his room? He's never anywhere else. Take away his computer? That's how he goes to school. Tell him he can't see his friends? You get the idea.

Not only did my son "borrow" my identity, it's also clear he can't read properly, can't even follow basic instructions when attempting to improve his father's life-circumstances. Your submission guidelines clearly state that you do not publish things that already exist out in the world (although let's be honest: "out in the world" seems a bit grand for, and he also neglected to include the one-line bio you require for every submission. Let's chalk it up to Minecraft Brain, because really, what else is a twelve-year old boy going to do with all the hours of the day stuck inside during a pandemic, even though I now realize he should be focussing on his reading comprehension skills?

I'm trying to see the big picture (we're healthy!) and forgive my son this lapse of judgment, and I can only hope the venerable New York Times can forgive me.


Moss Kaplan

P.S. If you happen to find the essay my son sent you (or any of the essays at to your liking, Toby assures me that not only can he remove them from my website, but also eradicate their presence from all corners of the known universe. He said, "It'd be easy, Dad. They haven't traveled that far."

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May 04, 2020

Hey, found your site going through old high school stuff. I was a student of yours at Open school like 2004-ish. Fun to read some of your writing glad to see you doing well. Wonder why he picked midnight?


May 04, 2020

Loved this, Moss. And it traveled all the way to Buxton, England - that's some distance, particularly in these times. Keep writing. You're damn good at it!


May 03, 2020

This is so awesome that it's the first thing I've smiled about all weekend. Love that kid. And you too Moss.


May 02, 2020

This is what I'm talking about: a post I can read aloud to my husband at breakfast and get chuckles in response from a man who is a harsh critic of literary efforts at the same time as I am registering that the thing reads beautifully aloud and is rife with self-deprecating humor.

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