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My senior year Drama teacher, Mr. Orr, brought in a person who worked with our class on musical theater. We sang We Go Together from Grease. Sometimes I don't know whether to punch or kiss Mr. Orr* for exposing us to this because spending one day singing it in 1994 has it in a perpetual loop on background in my brain and it doesn't take much to bring it to the front.

Enter Sam-a-lama-lama-ka-dinga-da-dinga-dong. From the time Sam first arrived on this day two years ago I'd find myself humming the song or singing it softly to him. I did not want to expose myself as someone who knew every word of that song to the public. Thankfully that's slowed down but the nicknames have remained, mostly Ding-Dong. Of all his childhood pet names I figure that one will go away because people will either think something about wieners, Little Debbies, or think that he's an idiot.

Sam's been a treat since he got here. As he was being wrenched from my wife during the c-section Maroon 5's She Will Be Loved came on and I hate that music so much that Alison and I cracked up in spite of what was happening to her body on the other side of the curtain. This was no first song for my boy, so as soon as I could stick a phone to his ear to listen to Willie Nelson sing You Were Always on My Mind I did. Crisis averted.

All that to say that Sam has done nothing but crack us up since he got here. I thought Ellie smiled quite a lot, but there's a sliver of pensiveness to her that Sam's never shown as he yaps, plays, jumps, runs and hits things, all the while smiling ear to ear with his tongue often touching his lower lip. He's a happy boy who's made us happy with his energy and stunts like standing on the arm of the couch holding up both index fingers in the air and jumping head first. He's fallen in ways that would have given me a heart attack if Ellie had taken those plunges, but that levity comes from his being the second child I guess.

All that to say he's filled the hole in our family that we didn't know was there before he came. I pinch myself sometimes because it can be so picture perfect -

two boys, two girls and a cat. We would have a great window sticker family except ours would have the peeing Calvin standing over them because I hate that kitschy, maudlin crap because no one cares who's in your family when your stuck in traffic, or that you like to ski together, and yes, I appreciate the irony of my saying that as I have the most maudlin website constantly blathering sentimentally about my family.

I think of how lucky I am to be witnessing him grow up because he's so cool and so unique. When I see him reflect my personality in some way I find myself equally frightened and proud. Proud because of the things about me I can admit are cool, but scared of the bad things, the demons, or whatever brings unhappiness and shadows. But I can't protect him from everything so I just hope to equip him not to be crippled by the bad. Everybody's always so quick to say that we all have gifts and to use them, but no one tells us anything about the booby traps.

Anyway, here's to my Sam, Sammy, Samalam, Ding Dong, Shmuel, Shmuley and any other term of endearment we've given him. I look forward to the years ahead whether they're filled with baseball or ballet, drums or drama, regular camp or art camp, sneakers or even high heels, you'll always be my dude** and I love you, hoss, and I'll be happy as long as I'm with you because everything's better with Sam.***

*Mr. Orr, if you're reading I promise I'd never punch you. You're too high up on the pantheon of great teachers in my life.

**Unless you're not and you're my dudette

***I have these dumb little songs I've made up about my kids, Sam's is called Everything's Better with Sam. The lyrics are for our ears .

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