September, 2007. Cooper started his career at The Barn.
By the end of that first year he looked like this:
He continued his campaign of charming the pants off of everyone that crossed his path, making friends and learning all kinds of good things like why it is important to recycle, that the hammerhead shark does not sleep and the proper use of the word “inappwopwiate,” to name a few.
This week our intrepid 5 year old got on a bus. By himself. And went to school.
He was SO impatient about waiting for the bus. It was running a little late, not surprising for the first day of school, and he was stamping around, SURE that the bus was not coming. When it came he was right there, ready to get on, turned and said “Bye mommy” and went in to find a seat.
He was just as eager to get on the bus the next two days. Yesterday he came home and announced he wanted a mohawk haircut. A month ago he would freak out if any hair DARED to stick out from his beautiful head of blond, thick hair. Now he wants the ultimate doink. We settled, instead, for a modified Ryan Seacrest for the time being, swooped up in front with lots of hair glue.
I won’t say I was a shy child, but I was an anxious one. I spent a lot of time worried. My parents, in particular my mother, would spend time talking through the things I was anxious about (death, illness, little things like that) and eventually I learned that you still wake up every day and the worst does not usually happen and even though people and life can be disappointing, if you focus on the good things that are around you, things are OK. Better than OK most of the time.
I watch my son, with his bravery, his steadfast conviction that he belongs exactly where he is and that he can be what he wants and so what if that kid doesn’t get it, he is going to leap around like a Power Ranger on the playground anyway, and am astounded. I think I knew this as a child too, but it was an inside knowledge, one I kept to myself and lived out quietly. This kid is out there owning it. As his parent I am proud yet at the same time, because it is what I do, I worry. I worry there will come that moment when someone tries to break that spirit, to douse that flame of courage. Because there are people who just have to do that. They cannot let that kind of beauty just exist, they have to kick it and smush it into the dirt in an attempt to make it less shiny, less glorious.
I cannot protect him from it, but I hope along the way, before he encounters that mindset, he develops the skills he will need to survive those attempts to make him less than. That is my job, his father’s job, to help him hone those survival tactics at the same time we revel in the crazy awesomeness that is Cooper.