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.