Sam is nine years old.

He is gangly and sweet-looking, with large front teeth and floppy hair. He likes to wear oversized t-shirts, and pulls his pants and socks up as high as they’ll go, like an old man.

His favorite color is yellow. His favorite superhero is Spider-Man, who he plays twice a month in our tabletop Marvel Super Heroes game, and as frequently as possible on his DS and the Wii U.

Lately he stays up later and later, partly because the days are longer and partly because he so obviously cherishes every minute he can steal with Will. It doesn’t hurt that we frequently watch television after the children are (supposed to be) in bed.

He is still in speech therapy. I have no concept how he sounds to people who aren’t used to him, but I think his speech is mostly normal now, with some funny quirks. For instance, he uses “about” as an all-purpose word, sometimes appropriately and often not. (Interestingly, Grace does this with “even.” She does not have any speech disorders.)

He is a voracious reader, though he still only reads words that are accompanied by pictures. We have a huge comic book and graphic novel collection that is growing regularly. It turns out that there have been graphic adaptations of several of my favorite novels, including The Little Prince and A Wrinkle In Time (both of which he got for his birthday).

He loves strategy games and is a wizard at Chess and Stratego.

He is largely uninterested in kids his own age, which worries me sometimes. But then I think of myself at nine, and I was exactly the same. Adults make better friends. But I need him to learn to be a good friend himself, so I still worry.

He can be self-centered and clueless, and doesn’t listen when he is lost in his own world, which is often.

But he also cares deeply and loves freely and strongly. I know he will be a good man someday.

Obsession, 8-year-old style

Let’s talk about Sam and Aliens.

So, my eight-year-old son is obsessed with James Cameron’s 1986 action/horror/sci-fi movie Aliens. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. Perhaps you are thinking, He is too young to see that movie! Yes, well. I agree. And he hasn’t seen it. YET.

But he wants to, desperately.

He brings it up frequently. The other day he turned to me out of the blue and said, “Mom, I really want to see Aliens now. It might be a spooky one, but it’s okay. I might be scared, but I just have to find out. I really want to see it.”

And why, you may be wondering, is he so obsessed with this movie? The board game. He plays the board game, and the flash version of the board game, frequently. He does voices for the marines. He refuses to leave an injured man behind. The other day when I was playing with him, he had one of the guys GO BACK for Vasquez. Which, actually…

Anyway. He loves the world so much. He knows all the characters and has a favorite (Hicks, thank goodness). He can tell you in great detail why we do not like Burke. He knows everything but what the movie is actually like.

I won’t lie, I might let him watch it. Nothing has scared him yet. Literally ever. And honestly, the most disturbingly violent thing shown on screen is an android–excuse me, synthetic human–being skewered. (Yes, of course we re-watched it this weekend to help us decide what to do. Holy shit the blu-ray looks amazing.)


I was still in bed this morning when Sam brought me an orange balloon and asked me to blow it up for him, which I did.

Later, he was playing a game of Don’t Let The Balloon Touch The Floor and I told him he needed to stop because it was turning into a game of Hit The Balloon Into Mom’s Face.

Later still, when I’d had some coffee, he asked if he might play with his balloon again. I said yes, and he did, and he had a good long run of keeping it in the air before it landed on me.

“Oh, why am I not good at this?!” he cried in frustration. “I guess I will not be a balloon thrower, after all!”

Conversations with Sam

Sam: Hey, what is that picture?
Me: That is for Assassin’s Creed. It’s a video game, but it’s for grown-ups.
Sam: YOU are a grown-up!
Me: Yes, but I am not very good at video games.
Sam: You aren’t?!?!?!
Me: Well, I don’t play a lot of video games. It is hard to be good at something you don’t do much.
Sam: Oh, like practice!


Sam: Mom, when I am sixteen years old, I will practice to drive, right?
Me: Yes.
Sam: And I will keep practicing until I am a man, not a little kid, right?
Me: Um. Well, sixteen is much closer to being a man than a little kid.
Sam: Oh. Okay.

Sam at Seven

So, Sam turned seven. I don’t really understand how that’s possible–but I also can’t really imagine how he’s still just a little kid, when I have known him forever.


Sam is a consumer.

I don’t mean that in the sense of purchasing merchandise, but he also does that. He’s been getting an allowance for several months and he saves it for the things he wants.

What I mean, though, is that he consumes television, video games, books…he watches, plays, and lives in other worlds. He recreates ideas from media with his toys–his many, many Imaginext toys become not only Batman and friends but Transformers (Hal Jordan is Optimus Prime; Kilowog is Bumblebee; Catwoman is Arcee) or whatever else Sam is interested in.


His favorite colors are blue and yellow. He always chooses the blue or yellow game piece when we play a board game. Oh, how he loves board games! For his birthday we gave him Catan Junior, which is not only a super-fun game but is also pirate-themed! Pirates are one of his longest-running interests, after Star Wars and Superheroes.

He loves to run in circles, play ball, and ride any and all wheeled conveyances. He has totally mastered his wheel shoes, can ride his freewheeel scooter in circles around you, and is ready for us to put the pedals on his bike. He plays tag and red light green light and an assortment of other playground games that as far as I can tell no one ever actually taught him.


He loves to play with his sister. He loves Calvin and Hobbes. He loves Mario, Luigi, and everyone else in Nintendoland. He likes ice cream and cookies but is still fairly unimpressed by cake and all other sweets. (He had an ice cream cake for his birthday.)

He has BIG emotions. Very big. As happens every year, I have had to remind myself that his period of disequilibrium happens in the months surrounding his birthday every year. (Remember 23 months? I don’t, but I guess that happens when you’re sleep deprived.)


I don’t always understand him, but I love him so, so much.

Teeth and Haircuts. What Happened to My Baby?

Sam has his first loose tooth.


It is the very first tooth that came in, on the day that he turned 10 months old, nearly six years ago.

I’m a little verklempt.

Because I craft to deal with feelings, I made him this:


And then he asked me to cut his hair. It was getting pretty shaggy.


You can see some durings on flickr if you like.

It’s easy for me to forget how big he’s gotten. Not only am I too close to him to see clearly, but his speech is still quite a bit behind, which makes him seem younger. I seriously have no idea when he turned into this little man.

Two Stories

Computer Time, a Sam story

Tuesday afternoon I was sitting in the living room with Grace on my lap, watching Pinocchio. Well, she was watching Pinocchio; I was resting my eyes, trying to fight off a headache.

Sam appeared at my elbow. “Mama, I got an idea.” “Yes?” “I have to play the sheep game!”

The sheep game is Home Sheep Home 2 (he prefers it to the original) on Kongregate. I have the main page of Kongregate bookmarked on my toolbar, but I always just search for the sheep game once I’m at the site.

“I’m sorry, buddy, I can’t help you right now.”

“That all right. I will do it!” And he ran upstairs. “Mama, now you tell me the letters.”

I was a little doubtful, but I spelled out H-O-M-E. Seconds later I heard the music of the game.

Painted Lady, a Grace story

Yesterday, Grace said to me, “Mama, go asleep with me!”

It was mid-afternoon, and she does not take a nap, but I got into bed with her anyway.

PARENTING TIP: never turn down a request for cuddles.

I laid down and she flopped across me, grinning. “Mommy! A DRAGON!” “Yes, baby. That’s my tattoo.” She flopped herself around to look at the other arm. “MOMMY! STARS! One, two, fee!”

I whispered, “I’m going to get a flower there too. And one more star.”

“A FLOWOO?” She was beside herself and jumped out of bed.

You know how Sam thinks I am really dumb?

I’ve been telling him Hawkeye’s name for months, but he just keeps telling me, “No, Mama, that not Hulk guy.”


So can you guys come up with something else for me to call Hawkeye? I’m pretty sure I can’t get away with telling Sam he’s The Green Arrow.