I took Sam for a ride in the pony yesterday.
Sam is 3 years old. The first time I met him was at his great-grandparents house. He walked confidently into their small living room and immediately asked his grandpa for his cane. He then used the cane to hit a golf ball all around the room into holes only he could see.
Sam is easy-going. When I applauded his golf game, he gave me the sort of winning smile that transcends the moment. I flashed to that same smile in a decade, when he would be a mischevious teen; and in two decades, when he would be a charming young man.
I was sitting on the front porch swing with his great-grandma when he arrived, having just helped his grandma take her father to the doctor. “He was so good,” they said, humbly remembering how patiently he had waited through the appointment. He ambled out of the car, then bounded up the cement steps finally landing on the swing right between his great-grandma and me.
“Sam…So good to see you again!” I said.
“You too,” he replied making perfect eye-contact.
“I don’t think you’ve ever seen my car,” I said, pointing toward the pony parked at the curb. “Look…it doesn’t have a top!”
He left the swing to get a closer look from the edge of the porch.
“You’re right,” he concluded.
“Wouldja like to get a closer look?” I asked.
He took my hand as we ventured off the porch.
We ended up going around the block. He is so small that his entire body was enveloped in the bucket seat; the shoulder harness of the seat belt across his chin. When we pulled away, the only thing his family could see from the porch was his tiny hand waving.
“What can you see?” I asked, trying to think of how I could boost him up to improve his view.
He extended his small hands, then placed them behind his neck and tilted his chin back. “Sky!” he replied.
I turned on the radio.
“I have a good radio too,” I bragged.
“Don’t need it,” he replied.
Of course not.
Who needs a radio when you are in a car that gives you full access to the sky?
When we returned, Sam climbed the porch steps to his next adventure as if whatever the rest of the day held it would surely be just as interesting as a doctor appointment and a ride in a car with no top.
When I said goodbye, Sam gave me five. Then he gave me a hug. And finally, that smile, before taking his grandmas hand to head into the house.
And I drove away, remembering riding with my own son: off the car lot when we bought the pony; down a winding Alabama road with him at the wheel and me looking nervously for cops; past Disney World at night singing loudly as REO Speedwagon cried, Roll With the Changes.
I left the radio off and let myself remember.