You turned 8 last night at 7:27pm, here in the Naval Base hospital, in Bremerton. I have told you for a couple years now that being #1 is a hard job. I bet you’re starting to agree, but you were Divinely created to be up for the challenge of teaching me how to be a good mom. I am trying! I am so thankful to be your mom. There are so many reasons why, but let’s just talk about today.
Today you are still sick – you have a nasty cold that would stop most people in their tracks. Yet you continue building domino structures with more than 700 pieces requiring hours of concentration and careful, steady hands. You play hard on your birthday with 8 other boys, learning to use map and compass, build an Eagle’s nest to keep an injured buddy warm off the ground while awaiting help (we had a really interesting party for you based on navigation, survival skills and lost-proofing all appropriate to 8 yr old guys who imagine they’re on an epic adventure fit for an 18 yr old). It was really fun, and there were many activities all culminating in a treasure hunt at your school which required reading maps and running all over the campus for whistles, ponchos, hand warmers and pencils. The guys had a grand time. Today you swam a 500 yard warm-up in swim practice after getting there early to work on your breaststroke. Then you did several more laps after the warm-up, totaling about 1/2 mile. You know that you are not the fastest swimmer, yet you never let it bother you. It seems you’re comfortable knowing they’re mostly several years older than you and have been swimming for years (swimming is huge here because the aquatic center is a warm, bright refuge during months of grey). You ask good questions, clarify lap vs length, speak up for yourself when you need better instruction, and race to do your cool-down walk around the pool so that the other kids don’t have to wait long to get back in. You are just one hard worker – in fact, when I stop to think about it, your work ethic is rather unusual. Other kids found reasons to fuss with their goggles at every length end. Not you. You kept going, and you got less rest than anyone else because they got to rest up while they waited for you. Then off you went again. You never complain and when you’re changing to go home, you say it was fine, no problem. I am learning not to worry about you. You are so solid, inside and out.
In other areas you’re so far ahead, no one can figure out how to keep you challenged. Your thirst for knowledge is insatiable. You were in a real mania
today, in fact, jumping from dominoes to drawing a T4 phage from your college biology book (no kidding – do you remember buying it on base in Hawaii for 52 cents? It is so heavy you could barely carry it!). Those T4 phages are pretty cool looking, aren’t they? Like a space ship – their tetrahedron shape is other-worldly, with 6 little “legs” which they use to land on a cell and inject their DNA. You quizzed Ben on the numbers 11, 12, 13, 14 (I had no idea he could write those! Thanks, Sam!) and then drew him a Googleplex, complete with how many zeroes? We even did some fifth grade math today (I brief myself at night once a week so I can keep up with what they cover in the new Common Core curriculum scope and sequence). You understood the concepts quickly – mixed fractions, improper fractions, converting between fractions and decimals, creating equivalent fractions with factoring. You are so easy to teach and such a joy to share time with that I am learning to stop being resentful of the glass ceilings at school and be much more appreciative of the fact that God has given me a unique opportunity to remain relevant to you. Yes, I will still work on behalf of all kids like you so that school remains a place of growth even in their strong subjects, but you and I will remain the team that we always have been, bushwhacking our own way forward. For that I am profoundly grateful.
Sam, you are one incredible man already. I am so anxious to fast-forward and see what happens in your life, and at the same time I don’t want another minute to go by without being sure you know how special you are. I can’t wait until tomorrow morning. Yes, I’ll read this to you and cry, unable to finish. Thankfully you can read now, very well!
I love you, my son.
ODE TO A HAGGIS
Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great Chieftan o’ the Puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang’s my arm
The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
You pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’need
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead
His knife see Rustic-labour dight,
An’ cut you up wi’ ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive
Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi’ perfect sconner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?
Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash
His spindle-shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro’ bluidy flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!
But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll mak it whissle;
An’ legs, an’ arms an’ heads will sned,
Like taps o’ thrissle
Ye pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
An’ dish them out their bill o’fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ pray’r,
Gie her a Haggis!
We chanced heading up to Hurricane Ridge today given the road was open at least – we got turned away two weeks ago with Steve was visiting because the lot had filled up already. With 45 degree weather, sun and clear roads we figured we’d get turned away again but just had to try. We were lucky – we got a spot!!! Sooooo beautiful! Ang – reminds me of a romp we did up there in the tiny car, which was nearly out of gas, and Sam along for the ride as a baby. Where was Dave? Josh? What were we thinking??? We had a beautiful day, too, as I recall. And another time we were up there on a sunny day with Dad and Grammie shortly after Sam was born. So nice to be back again!!! It was totally socked in from the Pacific Coast to Snoqualmie Pass – lots of low fog. We climbed a few hundred feet and here’s what the world looked like. Enjoy!
Here are a couple things Steve always said, which we find ourselves saying all the time…
“How was school, Sam? Gooood?”
“You kids like stickers? Ah know ah do!”
We miss you, Uncle Steve! Miss all of your humor, wit, insights into the world around us, your quiet browsing on your laptop at the table, bringing new farmer friends over, homemade pizza to die for, fires that are robust AND a work of art, and more Beatles documentaries (and Miles Davis) than one man should have ever endured. “HEY! My friends call me whiskers, becuz ah’m a worrier!” (that is a funny SNL episode – Harry Carray).
We have been reading about Shakespeare in another really great Landmark Series book – Will Shakespeare and The Globe Theater. The boys have been captivated. They started acting out the fall of Caesar – with me, and baseball bats, out on the driveway, in the dark and cold, after playing football. They didn’t care that they were falling down and lying in the gravel. It has been so fun to watch them. Ben has a very natural way of dying – he oozes down, one leg lingering in the air, then flops to his side, motionless. He won’t come to, either. But Sam figured out how to make him come alive – he tickles his cheek! Sam is very different when he dies – very calculated, deliberate hands reaching back, ensuring it won’t hurt. Ben totally commits – he’s closer to the ground, after all. When Sam pretended to be Caesar and said “Et tu, Brute?” it sounded like he was laughing. It was really hard for him to find a last gasping breath sort of voice. When they are a bit at each other at the end of the day, it is very interesting to watch the chemistry totally change when they act. We brought it inside tonight to show Dad, who Sam suggested be Mark Antony. Enjoy this video…