Goodbye to ‘Sammy’- Making Peace with the End of Early Childhood



My son turns four this month. Four. Tears brim my eyelids as I type the word because I can’t quite believe it. And it’s not simply that I remember the day he was born as though it were yesterday.

Best laid plans of mice and moms often go awry…

My attempt at a beautiful hippy home birth, complete with birthing pool and meticulously composed playlist, quickly spiraled into what seemed like the most absurd episode of some hospital drama. In the middle of hard labor, a surprise breech baby sent me screaming like a banshee, butt-naked just for good measure, through the hospital lobby into an emergency c-section. Perhaps in grander fashion than I anticipated, he got here and he was beautiful. Ok, no he wasn’t, not really. He looked like a tiny, black-haired, bug-eyed alien who my husband swore closely resembled Rick Moranis a la Ghostbusters. But he was ours. And maybe Zuuls’.


The first night of your first baby’s life is pure magic. Of course I know NOW I should have been sleeping considering I’d just been opened like a Thanksgiving turkey to produce a miniature human – at least that’s what the attending nurse remarked during surgery, apparently forgetting I could hear her. It’s ok, I forgave her. Narcotics will allow you to forgive anything, not to mention I’ve no doubt that’s precisely what I looked like… However, despite that day’s unexpected turn of events, it was clear that rest simply wasn’t happening for me that night. And I will remember the first night of his life for the rest of mine. I stared at that tiny 6lb. 9oz. ugly little creature and marveled at the wonder of him all night long. Amidst all the beeps and hisses of the machines in that freezing hospital room, I fell in love with that kid.

He is a little boy now, and he truly is beautiful. It’s not just his devastatingly long eyelashes which he frequently tells me are in his way. It’s more than the little patches of freckles on his cheeks or the adorably large ears that he will hopefully grow into someday. He is a little supernova who came barreling into my life, bursting with personality, inquisitiveness, and imagination. The kid has powers of persuasion that rival my own, often making negotiations with him the stuff of legend.

This little boy has unalterably changed my world. He made me a Mom, a simple thing, but it has been my greatest joy. I read once that motherhood is the deepest expression of human love, and who can argue that? How remarkable to watch this little life I met on that first night become a little person, a bit more so every day. So it’s with a very full but heavy heart that I watch him enter his fourth year, which I know is the twilight of early childhood…

There isn’t a blankie that he insists on carrying. He doesn’t have a favorite stuffed animal he loves, allowing sentimental me to one day tuck away in the ‘forever box.’ There’s no physical relic of this fleeting season in our lives. There has only been Sammy.


Sammy lives in Hawaii by the volcano. Sammy’s bedtime is an hour later than at our house, and he eats cookies for breakfast. He never has to take a nap, and has a pet dragon. The constant companion of my son’s vivid imagination is sometimes his son, his friend, a super hero, and at times his devilish alter ego (Sammy told me to…). Sammy’s presence in most of my son’s descriptions of life have made the character a regular member of the family, stopping just short of setting him a place at the table. So imagine the dull heartache I feel knowing that one day soon, I’m going to realize that it’s been a while since we heard about Sammy. It won’t be a sudden jolt; it will be a slow burn. The day is coming soon that my son will say goodbye to Sammy. And thanks to the jerks at Pixar who made the gut wrenching departure of ‘Bing Bong’ a full blown emotional catastrophe, Sammy’s passing is going to hurt like hell.

Saying goodbye to Sammy is saying goodbye to the little one I love, and hello to the kid he’ll become.

Please don’t misunderstand me; I’m thrilled to see this beautiful child grow into in an equally beautifully human being. I can’t wait to see what he brings to the world. And certainly, I know that each stage of childhood will bring a new set of joys that I can’t yet imagine. It’s simply that I’m watching this window of early childhood come to a close, and I wish there was a slow motion button. Give me just a little more time while he still believes that fairies live in our backyard, that dragons fly in the sky at night, that sharks love waffles, and that Sammy is his best friend. Give me just a little while longer while he still thinks that his mom and dad are the greatest people in the world. I know the sharpness of the details will fade, but how I hope I can remember the feeling of seeing the world through his big bright eyes full of endless possibility.


Stick around just a little bit longer, won’t you Sammy…

Anyone else struggled to say goodbye to an imaginary friend?


Comments are closed.