Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sam Turns Five

Today, Sam turns five.  He's been proudly proclaiming his "golden birthday" for weeks, telling everyone who would listen that he would turn five on the fifth.  In the past year he has become more loquacious than ever, largely due to his limitless imagination.  He daily tells endless stories that spin from his imaginary world of Changing Town (which mirrors our world except that everything is changed to suit his whims) and are populated by his friends Leilai, Rex-a-rator (the fastest robot dinosaur on the planet), and numerous other dinosaurs that he learns from Dinosaur Train, complete with their correct geologic period of origin.  He regularly sings, accompanied by his own drum track in the best beatbox tradition, songs that he creates and those from his Kindermusik class.  He sings so readily that a few weeks ago, when we were at a concert featuring a children's performer, he raised his hand up high when the call went out for someone who would sing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."  Sam was selected and proceeded to sing the song (on pitch) while the performer improvised guitar and vocal lines around him.  Afterward one of his preschool teachers leaned over to me and mentioned that she'd been wanting to talk with us about Sam's lack of self-esteem.

Sam is unusually confident in himself, a self that is quirky enough that I pray he will never let it be quashed by unsuspecting friends or teachers.  We relish the unique and hope he'll find friends who do the same.

This past Saturday, Joy and I elected to give Sam his birthday present a bit early.  We wanted him to have a long time to enjoy it, and since weekdays are so often messy in timing we decided the weekend offered the longest uninterrupted time.

When we visited Stephen and Misty this past August, Sam fell in love with riding a bike and has not so subtly mentioned wanting one at least once a week.  Joy and I researched and picked out a bike with 16 inch wheels and training wheels and went to pick it up on Saturday afternoon.  We then drove Sam and Noah (who got to ride the plasma car - a rare treat) to a nearby church's parking lot that is long and flat and deserted late on a sunny weekend.  Sam climbed on and was off.

In that instant, seeing Sam tentatively circle around us and then slowly venture out from our protective reach, I realized that Sam had become a boy without the qualifier "little."  As he fell over, dusted himself off, climbed back on the bike, and triumphantly wheeled away, I discovered that he didn't need me to pick him up and tell him it would be alright - he was perfectly capable of doing that service for himself.  Sitting on the warm pavement with the sun slipping through the changing leaves and washing over us, Joy and I experienced a bittersweet moment.  Getting your first bike is about freedom, about the grown-up ability to go anywhere you want under your own power, to chart your course.  Sam is just beginning that journey and wonders await, but I still want to hold on to the little boy who needs me for help, for assurance, for direction.

Then, upon opening a lego dumptruck this morning for his birthday, Sam turned to me and said, "Dad, let's go play!" Great new experiences and wonders await me too.


Anonymous said...

Andrew, this is beautiful and brought tears to my eyes because I remember another boy, about Sam's age, who got his first bike and didn't need me anymore, or so I thought. Enjoy every minute you have with him. He is a very special boy with a bright future ahead of him and you get the pleasure of watching it all unfold. Love to all and esp. to the birthday boy.

laura gayle said...

Happy happy birthday, Sam! I remember when you were born, and I remember how you would pull off many books and scores in the music library -- or at least try! You loved sitting and standing on the counter at the Music/Media Library and wanted to explore everything in reach. And now -- you have wheels! Your reach is much larger! Be safe and have fun. Most of all, happy fifth birthday!!!

Andy Forbes said...

Yay Sam! Happy birthday!

And as for you, Dr. Granade, thanks for making us cry. Our boys are growing up so fast, it's tough to come to grips with each new stage as it comes. I appreciate the note on which you ended your post: there is much fun to be had NOW and in the coming years!