Dear Sam,

Well, it's September. The four months since your birthday have crawled and flown simultaneously, this birthday letter is so late. Your eighth grade year ended with a whimper, drowned out by the sounds of emergency piecemeal home schooling and quarantining. Covid-19 is going to be a defining experience for us all, and I'm not sure what the long term effects of all this will be. 

We celebrated your birthday as a family, which is all you ask for anyway. You're not one for parties or sleepovers. We had dinner with your other parents and grandma and you opened your gifts with gratitude and genuine appreciation.

Since then, you have started 9th grade in full distance-learning mode. You have classes in the mornings via Microsoft teams and work time in the afternoons. It's all very strange and different, but we are lucky to be in a school district that is doing an amazing job of creating the best possible situation for you and your classmates. Meanwhile, I'm at work wondering how you could possibly be in 9th grade already. A high-schooler.

Fourteen feels different than thirteen. Maybe I say that every year, but I always mean it. I am well into this new, strange part of my journey as a parent, and I still don't feel prepared. I don't always know what you're thinking or feeling anymore, and I don't have all the answers. You are becoming your own person and I have to let you, but it's so hard to let go. 
I remember being your age. I remember how big my feelings were, and feeling misunderstood and powerless. When we have conversations about rules and what is fair, and you rail back hard about things that in 25 years will seem inconsequential in hindsight, and I remember being there. I try to listen and give you grace. I think you as a teenager and Danny as a 10 year old is a bit of a hard season for me as a parent. You are old enough to have some added freedoms and privileges, but I'm a little lost as to how to make it happen without it seeming unfair to him. I guess life isn't fair.

You got sick earlier this year with some sort of cold and sore throat, and your voice became froggy. I realized that we were getting a preview of what you're going to sound like someday. Recently you came out of your room one night and started speaking to me, and before you rounded the corner from the hall, I thought it was Scott. It's just another sign that you are becoming more than just my kid.

I try to imagine you in the world, a home of your own, a job, friends, interests... it's hard. For all that parents look forward to their children growing up, I feel unprepared for this new type of worrying, the kind where I can't just step in and guide you. Four years to eighteen seems like such a short amount of time. Yesterday you were a baby smaller than our pet cat, and it feels like tomorrow I'll be watching you graduate and make your first moves as Sam the young adult. 
You have blossomed as you've grown - last year we made the decision to transfer you from the IEP you've had since you were 4 to just a 504 plan. It was a huge step, and in many ways your special ed story is exactly how it's supposed to go. Because you got the support you needed, as you grew, you adapted and blossomed and learned how to advocate for yourself and figure out ways to make school work better for you. You are on the edge of that place where you start to not need your parents anymore, where you don't need them in the way you did even two or three years ago. 

You are kind, and that is one of the things I am most proud of about you. Every night when you go to bed, we exchange I-Love-Yous and you tell me to have sweet dreams. You are an introvert and a bookworm, and if you could lay under a cozy blanket and read all day, I think you'd be perfectly happy. It reminds me of the way I used to be. You still like routine and dislike transition, and I can't really blame you, I'm not much fan of change either. You spend one afternoon a week (or more) with your Grandma Edie, and I am so thankful that you both have such a close relationship with my mom. You have a lot of family, a lot of adults who love you and support you. 
I'm not sure what else to say. I've had such a hard time writing this year, with everything feeling like it's exploding into flames around here. Pandemics, social uprisings, forest fires, and political unrest. We are safe and lucky, and one day you'll look back and realize how crazy things were when you started high school. You will always be my baby, but you are not my baby anymore. I love you.
Love, Mom


Favorite Book: 39 Clues, Dystopian Fiction
Favorite Color: Black but people say that's not a color, so red
Favorite Song: Taylor Swift
Favorite Board Game: ?
Favorite Video Game:  Undertale?
Favorite TV Show: The Expanse
Favorite YouTubers: Hermitcraft - Grian, MumboJumbo, Bdubs, Iskall
Favorite Food:  Pizza, beans & rice, chicken nuggets, mac  & cheese (some things don't change)
Favorite Dessert: White chocolate chips, popsicles, ice cream
Favorite Thing to Do Outside the House:  Hang out w/Grandma
Favorite Subject at School: Math?
Best Friend: ?

Birth Story