Sammy Sunshine

“I’m the first one in our family to have one of these!”

Sammy bounded out of the emergency room with a half-cast/splint to protect his maybe-broken finger. Ever the optimist, always on the lookout for the next cool experience, my middle boy smiled at me and asked if there were any nachos left in the car from the snack we’d made for the ride to the hospital.

Congealed cheese, limp corn chips. If you could still call those nachos, yes, there were a few in a container on the back seat. And no, I didn’t want to share them, but thanks for asking.

Sammy is a child of intense moods and interests. For Pi Day in second grade, he memorized more digits than anyone else in school and became a minor celebrity among the accelerated math crowd. (That’s 3-14 on the calendar, for those who don’t observe the holiday.) Three years later, he can recite 200 digits. Stay tuned for the 2011 update in March.

He is a competitive runner who keeps track of his around-the-block land speed records on a dry erase board in our playroom; an avid collector of coins, baseball cards and pens; a devotee of Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Guinness World Records, Calvin and Hobbes, and The Encyclopedia of Immaturity.

Sammy is critical of his shortcomings, easily aggravated by his little brother, intolerant of the indignities in this world. But for the most part, the universe is a marvelous place if you are Sammy.

He is the speed demon who went from afraid to ride a two-wheeler to zooming around the block at breakneck speed; the impatient artist who made me a necklace with an armadillo bead at its center; the determined kindergartner who announced one morning that he’d taught himself to read Captain Underpants the previous night, and now he should be allowed to stay up later to read like his sister.

Here’s a poem I wrote about him when he was in preschool. The daily details have changed now that he’s 10, but the description still fits.


Are a shot of cream
in my coffee, an apple green shirt
with red pants, shoes
with the faces of sharks
and velcro closures
for a fast get-away.

are a peanut butter sandwich,
a sticky knife
left on the counter, a dancing tree,
a paint-smudged cheek,
a kiss on the nose
before school.

are flannel pajamas covered in trains,
an ice cube down the back,

one yellow balloon.


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