A few years ago, I'd say for most of Sam's 4th grade year, I struggled with him. Maybe it was because he wasn't my cute little sidekick with the Charlie Brown head and lispy voice anymore, and the fact that he declared he was totally "over" the whole Disney Cars thing. Waah! Here is evidence of the former cuteness:
He got big and addicted to Minecraft and started doing more sneaky things and his own perception of himself was not really based on reality. He would vacillate dramatically between thinking he could do everything perfectly and then wanting to throw himself in front of a car because he was "the worst kid in the world." I still loved him, you see, and I can definitely think of really fond and proud moments over that time period, but I often struggled with not liking him very much. In actuality, my irritation probably had a lot more to do with the lack of control I felt I had over him now that he was older more than anything he specifically did, but I'm just being honest about the dynamic. Things had changed and I didn't love the new stage we were in.
We lived with our international roommates that year, and I remember thinking it would be fun to ask them what phrase each of us Lundgrens said the most--like, "If you could imitate each one of us, what would you say?"--and then realizing sadly that mine would probably be "SAMUEL!" (think "ALVIN!" in your mind and that would be kind of what it sounded like). (I actually did ask them later and they said it was me saying "Shhh!" to try to keep the kids from bothering them in the morning...so the thing I was doing to try to be polite was actually the thing that was annoying them behind their closed bedroom doors. Lessons learned. Okay, that was a tangent).
But here is the good part of the story. All stages come and go. Kids change and we as moms change. So if you are in an unattractive or particularly challenging phase with one of your kids, I just want to encourage you. I sent this smart, creative, enthusiastic, thankful kid off to school today dressed as a greaser from The Outsiders. It is so much fun being able to talk about books I love with him, and to discuss themes and character development together. He seems finally able to understand that his homework is HIS and that it feels good to do well. He makes really funny jokes and is a great helper around the house. He has friends that are his own and he can ride his bike to football practice and can do way more situps than me (I actually discovered that I can't do a single sit up. Not even one. I can crunch like a boss but I would fail Illinois P.E.)
And, besides his growing independence, maturity, and responsibility, he still has a child-likeness and sweetness...in fact, I would say that it has grown this last year as he has become more comfortable with himself and able to better empathize with others. He wants to hold my hand or still have me read to him. He is sweet to Annie and talks in funny voices while pretending to be her toys. He and Evan...well, that's a work in progress...maybe because Evan is at the stage where Sam used to be when he was more prickly. And maybe because Brothers. They bring me back to the story of Cain and Abel often, like daily. But Sam and the sweetness--last week, I took the kids to a pumpkin patch with my sister's kids, and Sam pushed the stroller and played with them and seemed to find such joy in being their older cousin.
|"Sam, let's go do the corn maze!" "Aw, okay...but can I play here with Nathan some more, first?" Cue melting heart.|
Here is the pinnacle of Sam's cuteness, for the grandparents and Anyone Else who may be so inclined: