a gift from sam

It’s not even my birthday, and I received a present tonight. You know it’s going to be great when an almost toothless seven year old grins and giggles and keeps his hands behind his back, even though he’s squirming so much there’s a pretty good chance that you see behind his back before the reveal. Only I didn’t peek. I like surprises.

“I made you something,” he says. I try not to focus on the askew tooth that needed pulled three days ago, but he likes it hanging on by threads. “I know you like my animals, but I was thinking about you when I was walking in line today and decided to make you something extra special.”

He could have stopped there. My heart had already melted. He was thinking about me at school today. “Are you ready?”

I smile, nod, smile. “I can’t wait,” I say.

“I know,” he confirms, “This is really good. So…here you go!”

He holds out a homemade giant yellow pencil. I smile, because it is a pretty great gift. I didn’t realize it was about to get better.

A gift from Sam.

“I know sometimes it’s hard to write and I thought this would make it easier.”

He turns it over. “And I put your name on the back. I don’t want anyone to take it. I think this is going to be a magic pencil. It’s the kind that gets writers on lists.”

I take the pencil, revering it the way fine art ought to be revered. “What kind of list?” I ask.

“Ohhh, you know, like the ones with gold medal stickers on the covers and those lists that mean everybody wants to read your book.”

I laugh.  Oh those lists. This kid dreams big.“Wow, this is some gift. I can’t believe you made it for me. Thank you.”

He hugs me. “I love you, Mom. I’m glad you write.”

You know, this is one more reason to keep writing, even on the days when it doesn’t seem to matter. It’s a reminder that it does matter, not because of the “lists” — I don’t write for them, anyway — but because it matters to him that I write and maybe, someday he will write too. And little by little the stories (mine, his, theirs, yours) will pile up and together they will change the world.

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  1. What a great, great gift! I love the line, “…It matters to him that I write and maybe, someday he will write too. And little by little the stories (mine, his, theirs, yours) will pile up and together they will change the world.”

    I'm just beginning to realize the power of words and writing. Thank you for being such an integral part of that realization…

  2. Adorable, Ruth! I loved your description of his “grins and giggles” and excited squirming at the beginning, and I love his present even more! How sweet that he made you a “magic” pencil to get you on those special lists! I hope you end up on one someday! 🙂

  3. Perfect! I just finished writing about modeling writing for our students and our own children. I was thinking about this all day today -when and where do we show our children we are writers.

  4. Ruth, this is beautiful. Your slices always make me pause for a moment. I'm always amazed at how you take a story and capture a much bigger topic. Yes, there's the story of Sam and the wonderful gift (which may I just say made me smile!), but there's also the bigger story of capturing stories and they way our stories all weave together.


  5. There's so many lines that I love in this, including where Sam was explaining his rationale, your final line, and your description of his tooth. Right now my 6 year old has a tooth that is so ready to fall out as well.

  6. If Sam can dream big for you, that means he can dream big for himself too. That is an incredible gift you've given him. A magic pencil is a pretty awesome way for him to show you that gift!

  7. What a terrific story! Love the personalized pencil, and all of the hard work that went into it. I love, just as much, the dangling tooth! What a great detail! And like Cathy said, I marvel, as always, at your ability to take this small story and pull out such a ginormous truth. Thank you. Again.

  8. Wow, what a gift. So precious. It gave me a great idea for a story. The magic pencil that writes. Perfect for those with writer's block. Thanks for sharing this!

  9. OOO!! The tooth dangling by a thread! Eeesh – your image gave me shivers! Heehee!

    And how awesome is this boy? I can't hardly wait to see what he becomes.

    Every day you live your life faithfully to glorify God. It is reflected in all that you do and those that you pour your love into.

  10. What a wonderful moment between you and your son captured. Your example is a true inspiration… to your son (I'm sure) and many others of us out here.