Happy birthday to our silly, spirited, favorite buddy! You are fearless, imaginative, independent. You are an athlete, an engineer, an artist. A good friend and a protective big brother. You are compassionate and considerate. You are SIX.
You have grown so much this year. Four inches and eight pounds, to be exact. Your limbs are longer, your face is thinner, your hair is higher. By the end of summer, all of your pants were either ripped at the knees or two inches too short. You have an insatiable appetite and don’t stop moving until your head hits the pillow at bedtime.
You have an endless amount of energy, love all sports (including cricket and tennis, which you learned at summer camp), and are quite competitive!
You tried basketball last winter and often asked to stay longer to shoot with the big boys. Though your favorite part of practice was the relay race at the end — which you took very seriously.
You played tee-ball in the spring, and loved it! You may be a future pitcher — just like your Uncle Andrew. Because you have quite the cannon for an arm. Your coach always asked you to take a few steps back before firing the ball to first base. Of course, you enjoyed scaling the fence and building dirt piles and eating post-game popsicles almost as much as you enjoyed fielding and throwing and hitting the ball.
You participated in a weekly skills and drills soccer program in April and May and moved up to the next division for fall soccer. You have gained a lot of confidence since last season and are fearless! You sprint down the field to protect your goal and slide kick the ball away from your opponents. You also encourage and cheer for your teammates louder than any other kid out there, which makes us so proud.
You asked to play flag football with your preschool buddies. But our schedule just didn’t allow it this year. However, that doesn’t stop you from working hard on your spiral throw and tackles. Especially after spending a summer afternoon at Jets training camp. You now claim the Jets are your favorite football team (sorry, Steelers). Though you often call them the Rockets.
You also completed your first triathlon in August! You spent weeks watching your buddy’s race video and were so fired up on race day. You bravely jumped into the murky lake water and paddled your way across the 25-yard lane. Then it was onto your bike (with training wheels) for a 1/2-mile ride. And you finished fast with a 1/4-mile run. The running leg was definitely your strongest! Just like your momma.
Not only am I impressed by your athleticism and sportsmanship, I am so amazed and inspired by your creativity. How you made a fishing rod from a long stick that you found at the park, yarn, and a paperclip taped to the end. And that you believed you could actually throw it into the lake and catch a fish. I love your popsicle stick creations that I discover all over the house. And your fleet of jets with binding clips for landing gear and an aircraft carrier made of paper and tape. How you can turn anything into an art project: clothespins, toothpicks, ribbon, marshmallows, play-dough, glue sticks, googly eyes. How you constructed a holster for your homemade swords. And how you tape paper targets to the living room window that you shoot with your bow and arrow. I can’t believe that we haven’t yet had a broken lamp, considering the rubber balls and balloons and Nerf darts that are constantly flying around the house.
You desire to know how things work and get great satisfaction from solving problems. Unless that problem involves locating a tiny LEGO piece or a specific colored marker or your soccer cleats. Then you are more than willing to request help from Mom!
Your favorite foods are the predictable spaghetti and meatballs, pepperoni pizza, macaroni and cheese with broccoli, and quesadillas with guacamole. But you are also always willing to try new foods. Thanks, in part, to the cooking class you took over the summer, that introduced you to zucchini muffins and tarts, carrot slaw, and homemade pickles. New favorite foods include spring rolls, shrimp pad thai, and orange chicken. You prefer cookie dough balls over actual chocolate chip cookies and vanilla ice cream with lots of cherries on top. On the rare occasion that we allow you to have soda, you savor it for as long as possible (sometimes hours!). And you are quite proud of your PBJ banana sandwich creation that you request almost every day after school.
In addition to cooking class, we attended many fun summer activities: Mad Science, Oceans Rock, Touch-a-Truck, Vacation Bible School, the Turtle Back Zoo, Nixon Park. I love your interest in learning about science and nature and animals, specifically jellyfish, spiders, and polar bears. You ask lots of questions about space and the weather and were fascinated by the solar eclipse. You answer either “astronaut” or “police officer” when asked what you want to be when you grow up.
You did a bit of traveling this summer. We celebrated preschool graduation with a mother/son trip to the Jersey Shore. You collected seashells on the beach, learned about penguins at the aquarium, played video games in the arcade with friends, and ate most of the shrimp and scallops from my seafood boil.
In July, you and Daddy went to Colorado! You went hiking and camping with Uncle Andrew: drank from the creek through a filtering straw, helped to pitch the tent, walked almost six miles until you asked to be carried, and were just a little bit disappointed that you didn’t get to roast marshmallows over the campfire because of the drought. Then you attended Uncle Jon’s military retirement ceremony and had a blast visiting the Air Force Academy and the Garden of the Gods with your cousins. The grand finale to your week was putting on a pilot cap and sitting in the cockpit before your flight home! You were even thoughtful enough to get an extra wing pin for Nora.
You love to be outside. From organizing obstacle courses at the playground and racing bikes on the back deck to hiking trails, boating, and fishing. You love to be on the water (especially with Uncle Steepie) and in the water. In January, you could barely swim the width of a lane, and by March, you were swimming unassisted laps! You asked to go to the township pool almost every day over the summer to hang with your PCNS posse and spent most of those afternoons jumping off the high dive.
You also mastered the moving monkey bars at the purple playground — not an easy feat! You still prefer to ride your scooter over your bike. Probably because you feel frustrated that you couldn’t ride without training wheels on your first attempt. Like I said, you are competitive!
You recently developed an interest in music and often request to listen to my running mix in the car. Favorite songs are “Up, Down, Funk-You-Unk” “Single Ladies” (that you pronounce Singagliese like your preschool teacher) and “Stand Up and Dance with Me.” You still have the most amazing dance moves, and I look forward to our dinnertime dance parties!
You pretend not to like Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig and Octonauts. But you secretly watch them when they’re on Nora’s iPad and enjoy playing with the characters under Nora’s bed as much as she does. You’re not quite as obsessed with Star Wars as you were last year. You and Daddy are more inclined to have Nerf gun battles rather than light saber duels. Although you still requested to be Kylo Ren for Halloween.
You can build LEGO sets (for ages 5-12!) by yourself and in impressive time. You enjoy following the directions, but also enjoy free building ships and secret hideouts. You like to “cool them up.” You have a tendency to build symmetrical, just like me. Same goes for drawing. Your creations are organized and intricate and colorful.
You love board games, UNO, and Connect Four. You have several huge stacks of books in your room and ask to read at least three every night. Over the summer, we read our way through quite a few chapter books from the Magic Tree House series. I am so looking forward to the day when you can read to us! I suspect that day will be here before we know it.
You started kindergarten in September, which deserves a post of its own. Let’s just say that you LOVE school. You are quick to pick up new concepts and never complain about doing your homework. You talk about technology class and science and playing “Mr. Fox” on the playground with your new friends. On your birthday, I surprised you for lunch and recess. You greeted me with a huge smile and hug, were so excited to introduce me to your classmates, and gave me thumbs up while playing soccer and football with your buddies on the playground. I was so proud to see you high five friends in the hallway and sit so attentively on the rug while I read a book to your class. I hope you always love learning!
You have a very typical relationship with your sisters. You love them unconditionally and tease them relentlessly. I love the way you always include Nora, even when your buddies are around. And I love the way she looks to you for assistance and reassurance. I love how you take Evelyn by the hand and encourage her to knock over block towers, throw balls, and splash in the bath tub. I know the girls will always be protected in your presence.
You have made so many significant friendships since we moved to Morristown. I am amazed by your confidence and commitment in forming new relationships. And you always remember to send letters and make FaceTime calls with your best buds in other states.
It is also worth noting that you have developed your first crush. Our neighbor is in second grade, and you have sat beside her on the bus since day one. She made you a bracelet, you wrote her a thank-you note, she teaches you Spanish, and you sometimes “meet at the fence” to talk after school. You even asked, “How old do I have to be to have a girlfriend?” Oh, dear, buddy!
You said another day, “When I grow up, I’m going to wait a few years to get married. And when I’m waiting, I’m going to work in a science lab like Daddy did when he waited for Mommy. What were you doing in Daddy’s science lab, anyway? And when you saw Daddy, you wanted to marry him, right?” That’s exactly right, Sam.
Of course, Ricky is still your #1 frog. He has been your companion since you learned to crawl. He has been re-stuffed, stitched up, and washed more times that I can count. And because there may (sadly!) come a day when you no longer “need,” we decided to celebrate him last month. You baked chocolate chip cookies, decorated with balloons, and asked each of us to make a special card for Ricky, which we happily did.
Not everyone has the opportunity to see it, but you have such an innocent and sensitive side. You have been so concerned for Poppy as he has dealt with a rollercoaster of health issues this past year. You have lots of questions that I am cognizant to answer both honestly and carefully. A few months ago I explained to you that Poppy has problems with his neck because he smoked cigarettes. And now you are completely appalled when you see somebody smoking. You call them “smoker-ettes” and can’t understand why people are allowed to buy them at the store. I wonder the same thing, buddy.
You slip love notes under my door when I’m taking a “mommy time-out,” and you always ask that Daddy and I sneak into your room to kiss your head before we go to bed.
Sam, my heart aches just a bit when I see a little boy walking down the street in his Spider Man costume, knowing that yours barely reaches past your knees. Or when I glance in the rear view mirror to see you sitting in your booster seat with your headphones on. Or when you walk to the ice cream counter by yourself to politely ask for more cherries for your banana split. There are so many things that I already miss, but I know that we also have so much to look forward to: your first loose tooth, learning to ride your bike and tie your shoes, reading books and telling jokes, family camping trips.
You said to me recently, “I will love you when I go to kindergarten. I will love you when I go to college. I will love you when I go to outer space.”
I will love you all of those times and more. Always. We couldn’t be more proud of you, buddy. Thank you for challenging us to be the kind of amazing parents that you deserve.