Just recently, I was watching a Sam/Freddie fan video that got me to reflect on something that I've been thinking about for a while. Going all the way back to the beginning of their relationship ...

In iPilot, we were introduced to a character who was rather deeply locked in an emotional shell, the result of a long, dysfunctional childhood. This young person could have spent years, perhaps an entire adolescence, tucked away in that protective cocoon, to become an adult with deep emotional issues and a lot of difficulty dealing with people in the real world ...

... if it wasn't for the fact that he found somebody to break him out of his shell.

(I bet you thought I was talking about Sam, didn't you? ;) )

Freddie spent his entire childhood being coddled by his overprotective mother. Like most "helicopter parents," Mrs. Benson had good intentions, and was motivated by a love for her child, but never realized how much she was hurting her son, by refusing to let him grow up and learn to do things on his own, to take responsibility for himself.

She wasn't the only one. Sometimes, even Carly could be just a little too gentle in her treatment of Freddie. There have been times when I felt that she could have done him a lot more good by throwing some cold water on him, especially with regard to his crush on her.

Sam may have been the only person in Freddie's life who didn't treat him like a delicate flower. For all of their good intentions, everybody else was weakening Freddie by being too easy on him, too soft, too gentle. They were, essentially, contributing to keeping him in that protective cocoon I mentioned earlier, tucked away from the harsher realities of life. Sam, on the other hand ...

Whether she did it for his sake, or purely for her own amusement, Sam's constant teasing and bullying of Freddie was toughening him up, making him stronger and more ready for what life was going to dish out to him later.

Freddie probably never realized it, but he gained from Sam's seeming abuse of him in another way. Anger can be a very healthy emotion - It can spur us to action.

Every time I watch iHurt Lewbert, I have to smile at the surprised expression on Sam's face when Freddie cut her off and shouted, "No jokes, Puckett, this is serious chizz!"

You could practically see Sam thinking, "Wow, I didn't think he had it in him."

iCook, iBelieve in Bigfoot, iHire An Idiot ... Over time, more and more, Freddie was driven to stand up to Sam. And in the process, he also gained the strength to stand up to the other people he needed to - his mother, especially, and, to some extent, Carly.

(I've said this a few times before. I really liked the way that Freddie stood up to both Carly and Sam in iHire An Idiot. Their relationship seemed to have really evolved from a time when he basically let himself be a doormat for Sam, and especially for Carly. A true friend will tell you to go to **** when they think you need to hear it, and Freddie has shown more willingness to do that now than he has in the past.)

In iMove Out, Freddie defied his mother in a way that, in Season 1, you could not have imagined him ever doing. When Mrs. Benson blamed it on Carly ... In a way, she was actually right.

If it wasn't for Carly, then Freddie would never have become iCarly's technical producer or become friends with Sam. He gained a great deal from both experiences. iCarly was probably the first time Freddie was ever doing something important to him, and consistently on his own, without his mother involved. He gained from it - independence, self-confidence, and the understanding that he could do things without his mother's help, and eventually, without her permission.

He also gained a great deal from two valuable friendships. Carly's friendship, sympathy, and support helped him through a lot in his life, and Sam ... helped him in a different way. But she did help.

One thing I shouldn't forget ... I mentioned before that a true friend will tell you to go to **** when they think you need to hear it. In iSaved Your Life, Sam showed her willingness to do what it seemed that so many people weren't willing to do with the sweet, kind-hearted boy - to be harsh with him, by telling him what he didn't want to hear.

That's a true friend.

Freddie may never have thought of it ... and Sam probably didn't either, really ... but, ultimately, Freddie's friendship with Sam may have been the best thing to ever happen to him.

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