During Steven’s grade 4 year there were several notable events. The most significant to me was an essay he wrote titled, Why My Dad is My Superhero. Here is what it said,
My superhero is and will always be my dad. He is the best superhero that anyone could ask for. He is always there for me and has made me what I am today. He is not my real dad but he is my only dad. When my mom was sick and dying, he was the one who rescued me from the garbage can. He took me in and helped me to be the best person I could be.
Not only has my dad taught me to read and do math, but he has also taught me to be nice and kind. This was not hard as he is always nice and kind to me and all the people around him. He told me this is why I have so many great friends. I have my dad to thank for that.
My dad also is my superhero because he takes care of me real good. When I was sick and needed surgery, he stayed with me at the hospital the whole time. He did not even leave for work. He kept reassuring me that I would be OK, and it made me relax to know he was there. My dad would never leave me, and I love him for that.
My dad also helps me with my swimming, gymnastics and soccer. He is the one who takes me to practice every Saturday and comes as often as he can to watch me. He also takes me to practice and exercise every day. He says it is so I will become strong and brave. I want this because I want to be just like my dad – strong and brave and have lots of courage.
Lastly my dad is my superhero because he loves me so much. Every night after I have done my homework and got ready for bed, he tucks me in and kisses me on the forehead. The last thing he does before he turns out the light, is tell me he loves me. I tell him that I love him too.
There is no better superhero to me in this world than my dad and I love him so much. I want the whole world to know that my dad is my superhero.
I knew nothing of this until it was Father’s Day and Steven came in to my room in the morning. This was not unusual but since he had a sheet of paper in his hands, I knew something was up. After he read it out loud to me, he ran and jumped into my waiting arms. I was a mess of tears, but my heart was filled with love and joy. There is nothing in the world that beats this feeling. I still have that essay hanging in my bedroom.
This was also the year that Steven picked up a guitar. I had always received great comments from his music teacher in school. His singing was great, he was a leader in the class, and he learned the reading of music quite quickly. The grade 4 classes learn to play the ukulele and by Christmas Steven was quite good at it.
He asked me one day if he could learn to play the guitar. It turns out one of his friends plays the guitar and Steven thought this sounded very neat. We talked about the commitment involved and decided that lessons once a week with 30-minute practices at least three times a week was doable, and it made reaching the goal of learning to play the guitar very workable. Right after soccer camp on Saturday morning we headed for the local music store.
Guitar works is a music store in Calgary that specializes in everything that is guitar related. I had already called them during the week to inquire about lessons and purchase. I talked with a guy named Roy and was he knowledgeable. It turned out we met just the right person. As we walked in the store Steven was immediately enthralled with what he saw. There were guitars of all kinds and shapes hanging everywhere in the store. We asked for Roy and a young man about 22 years old walked out. I introduced Steven to Roy and then let the two of them go at it.
When we left, Steven and Roy had talked all about what it would take to learn to play the guitar. Roy signed Steven up for Saturday afternoon lessons at the store. He then showed Steven the guitar he would learn on. He explained that it was nothing fancy but until he really learned and knew he would continue; this guitar would do fine. I asked about a case, a music stand, and a guitar stand for home and we collected everything and took it to the car. Since it was Saturday, Steven would start at 4:00 this afternoon. Roy would have the music by then and be ready for lesson number one.
We went home and had lunch. All Steven could talk about was the guitar, his lessons and how good he was going to be. I knew in my heart that this was not hollow talk, he really meant what he was saying. I was once again very proud of him. I hugged him and told him so. We spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning and doing household chores.
At 4:00 Steven arrived at Guitar Works for his first lesson. I accompanied him inside, but they went into a sound proof room where I could hear nothing. The lesson was 45 minutes long and after they were done, Roy called me in, and Steven showed me what he had learned. I was very impressed. I think Steven was on cloud nine with all the praise he was getting from both Roy and me. When we got home, I had a surprise for Steven. Something that had not come up in the few years he had been with me.
I told him to stay in the living room while I went into my bedroom and returned with my guitar in my hand. Steven was bug eyed and for once in his life, was speechless. I told him that when I was in high school, I had picked up the guitar to play along with some friends. I had never taken any lessons but could play and sing along in many situations. I took out the guitar, which I had taken into Guitar Works earlier in the week for a tune-up and new strings, then played a few tunes for Steven. He raced to his room and was soon back with his guitar. I showed him a couple of chords and we played and sang together for 30 minutes. Steven was having the time of his life and so was I. We were able to do something together that had the two of us both reeling in our affection for each other. It was the first of many sing-along times the two of us would have.
About a month into his grade 4 year, Steven came to me and said, “Dad, can I ask you something kind of weird? There is a new boy in our class named Frankie and he never has anything to eat. For snack today all he did was get a drink of water from the fountain and for lunch all he had was a slice of bread, so I shared half my sandwich. I hope you are not mad. When I asked him about this, he said Frankie was too poor to have too much food. He did not even get a milk carton. Can you give me more food so I can share mine with him?” Inside me I was almost crying.
We talked about this and agreed it would be a fine thing to do. Helping out someone in need is always important. For the rest of his grade 4 year, Steven and Frankie had snack and lunch together so Steven could share his food. I packed extra sandwiches and cookies, lots of fruits and veggies and even gave Steven enough money to buy two milk cartons at lunch. After school, Frankie and Steven came to my room for a snack. I had talked with Steven’s grade 4 teacher and it was true. While no one knew the whole story, Frankie was in one of those families that moved around a lot presumably to keep one step ahead of the collection agencies. It was a great lesson for Steven in how lucky we were and how hard some others have it.
For Christmas that year, Steven wanted to know if we could help out Frankie and his family. We shopped for some things for Frankie and made sure they were under our tree. This was because, we decided to invite them over on December 24th for our family dinner. When Frankie and his parents arrived, they all looked a little reticent at Steven and I, mostly wondering why anyone would want to invite them to dinner. We had a great night and I think everyone had a great meal. Steven and I had made some special plans. The first one was that there were three presents under the tree for Frankie. Steven would take Frankie over to the tree and look at the tree hoping that Frankie would see a present with his name on it. It only took five minutes when there was a “This is for me?” from Frankie.
Steven was nodding his head and he said, “Of course, and if you look again, I think you will see some more too.” Franke and Steven hugged each other as Frankie looked at his mom and dad who nodded in approval.
We had also made sure there was way too much dinner, and since we would be going to grandma and grandpa’s tomorrow, they had to take all the left overs home. Steven and I were secretly hoping that the meal would be for Christmas dinner and be the kind that they probably would not get.
At the end of the night, both the parents were very thankful, and Frankie and Steven hugged each other as they wished each other a Merry Christmas. Frankie had a smile on his face that went from ear to ear.
Easter was the same. This time, along with the other three, Frankie was included in the sleep over and Easter egg hunt the next day. The other four boys had to show him what to do with his Easter basket and when Frankie’s parents came to pick him up, he was, once again, ear to ear smiles and talking a mile a minute about what the Easter bunny had brought him and everyone else. Once again, we had a care package for the family for Easter Dinner. Both Frankie’s parents were a little teary eyed as they thanked us for all they had done especially for Frankie.
Unfortunately, Frankie was gone at the end of grade 4 but it was a great year and a good lesson in humility for Steven. I have to admit; I was sad that Frankie was gone.
I was finding that our week was now becoming quite filled. With the addition of guitar practice three times a week and a lesson once a week, there had to be a very specific schedules made up. The one thing I did notice was that Steven was not phased at all. There was nothing he or I were doing that he did not enjoy. Even our times with his homework were going really well. He still loved all the gymnastics and swimming we practiced and after two years, he was showing some amazing skill at these. He had now been in three gymnastics competitions and each time I was so proud of him. The one time he got a medal I thought he was going to fly to the moon. It really inspired him to keep going. By now, the pin board in his room was full of ribbons, awards and his new medal.
Steven’s grade 4 year had been just as fantastic as all the others. Our summer was filled with all the activities he liked to do, and I was more than happy to accompany him on all these adventures. We returned to Laguna Beach once again where Steven and Darryl renewed their friendship and spent many a day on the beach surfing and swimming together. Both had grown up so much and it was great to see the friendship still flourishing, even though it was really a short time, long distance one. Steven did ask if Daryl could come up some time to our house. I was not sure how to answer this, so I talked with his parents and left it at a possibility.
Grade 5 was going to see a major shift in Steven’s life and challenge me in ways I could not imagine.