Happy 10th birthday! That is such a big number, Sam. You are growing in size and maturity at lightning speed. Here are some things that I have noticed this year about you. Some are big, some are small. You might just appreciate hearing about them some day down the road when 10 seems like a long way off. First – you are a trailblazer who picks up new interests and pursues them with intensity. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d be the proud mother of an ice hockey player! You put a stick in your hands last year and immediately loved it. One of your great qualities is giving new things a try. Some stick, some don’t. That hockey stick DID stick, that’s for sure! Then you hone your skills with self-motivation, practicing and practicing, even after an hour of practice. You come home in your carpool with the guys (after a sushi stop at Central Market!) and practice some more, in the dark and rain, thumping against our garage door until we got a big goal to shoot on. We have to call you in to shower up and get ready for bed. Not too many people pursue their interests with such passion, but you demonstrate devotion to many interests, including learning how to mod Minecraft to make your own ores, biomes and armor sets. It is such an interesting thing to see you take a love of geology and figure out how to blend that with coding – you have made fluorite ore, malachite, amethyst, and 10 others that you really like.
Second, you are very generous. As noted in the picture above with the “Dorito Ore” you gave away your favorite snack on your birthday, to a friend who wanted to trade. Another friend remarked about your generosity when you allowed him to play with your new Minecraft mod (orespawn) for quite some time while you looked on. We had just figured out how to download and install it (no easy feat as we soon learned) and you were willing to let your friend have a go at it while you watched. You also let friends crack open geodes and keep their choice of the loot. Time and again I notice how generous you are.
Third, you are hilarious. Your class had so much fun asking questions about “what’s the most embarrassing thing Sam has done?” – the birthday tradition is to ask questions of the parent and birthday child and parent. We had fun telling the story about the sonic fart (fake but loud) at Battle Point which surprised some walkers! And then their eyes really went wide when you told about the spaghetti sauce on the head incident! We are all loud and have a good sense of humor, and we love to play around physically. Most days on the way home from school you try to sneak by me – you often give me the slip! I’ll notice that I have Ben, but I never got to see Sam! You’ve been doing that from day 1. Our crossing guard, Mrs. Sanford, told me recently that as young as first grade you would see her walking down toward the intersection and you’d hide between parked cars, then pop up behind her and sneak down right on her heels, all the way out into the road. She’d look behind and suddenly spy you, much to her great surprise! If you’re not quietly sneaking by me, you’re checking me, full on, into something or someone. We are always making a scene, the three of us, walking home from school. Loud laughing, body checking, swinging backpacks, grabbing clothes and hurling people. It’s a zoo, just the three of us, but hey – it’s funny. Yesterday we were having a drag the trash can war – me with the recycle bin and you with the trash can. We found that makes a lot of noise as we raced down the driveway!
Fourth, you are persistent and curious. I don’t know too many kids who relish a challenge like you. I see it in your problem-solving – taking on math problems and competitions with no practice and excelling at them, and working on math that is at least two years ahead (you’re doing an online prealgebra course now). You don’t like to do the same stuff over and over. You want to learn something new, wrestle with it, and move on. It sure has been a challenge for me to keep up with you, without burning you out on school or work. I have been trying very hard to find just the right mix of challenge and investment of time. While you have a great gift for math, that is not your big “love” in life. You are a well-rounded, funny and athletic person with a wide variety of interests. You are intent on learning challenging new songs on your guitar, too. How many times has Randy said “Geez, Sam! That’s a doozy! I mean, we can learn that, but it’s a challenge!” You picked Stairway to Heaven over the summer, then “Over the Hills and Far Away” and now you’re working on some Eagles tunes. We love listening to “The Final Resort” on the way to hockey, and you’ve picked up “Hotel California” with just one introduction from Randy. I honestly have no idea how you do these things. You’ll hear a tune, then remember it and execute it. Just unbelievable. Your dad is quite good, too, but he won’t admit it. You are so lucky to have music as a friend.
These things are easy to spot – I see them daily – but they are not the sum and substance of who you are. Your character traits of honesty, generosity, strength, and peace-making serve you well among your friends and will help you navigate life. Over dinner a week ago you were asking about working for others in an office vs. working for yourself. It was so interesting to look at you, at 10, and try to project who you would be as an adult. I can see that your calm demeanor, thoughtful approach to problem solving, and generous spirit would make you an excellent manager if you find yourself in that situation. Still, you would have no trouble speaking up at a tedious meeting to make a point if necessary (I’m thinking of your loud Calvin and Hobbes-style humor at home!) but the vast majority of the time you’d find a quiet way to make your point loud and clear, and probably lead the way by example. But maybe you’ll be a freelance coder, setting your own hours and working into the wee hours to fix a problem. I can easily see that, too.
Sam, your mom and dad admire you so much and pray that we are serving our Lord well as your parents. We try to see ourselves as coaches, helping you to make the best choices for yourself that you can. We want to be like the great coaches you have for hockey, and every day I pray for the grace to be that person. We love you very much and hope this little run-down of the YOU we see at 10 is fun to read some day. It has taken me days to tackle the sweet job of writing this letter because of how much I care about you, and how much time that crazy Forge install took yesterday 😉
PS did you want your vital stats? You’re 5 ft tall and 97 lbs.
Video of the stick and puck party: