I just dropped you off in front of the school for your first day of second grade. It wasn’t until last night that you even decided I would be honored with that privilege. I kept asking if you wanted me to take you on the first day, or if you just wanted to resume carpool as usual. Finally, right before bedtime, you responded, “I don’t care, but I guess you can take me if you want to.” Gee, thanks.
So, second grade, Dude. That’s pretty huge. I can’t wait to hear about your day. Your new teacher is supposed to be great, but she’s got some seriously big shoes to fill. Mr. Yospe was, hands down, the best first grade teacher any of us could have wanted. But I’ve heard good things about Mrs. Dewyea, and honestly — I think it will be good for you to learn to adapt to a different style of learning. And, luckily, you’ll be surrounded by friends. Over two thirds of the kids in your class are the same as last year. Please remember to be extra nice to McKenzie — she’s never been to this school before. And please don’t let Megan get on your nerves this year… just nod and say, “That’s interesting.” to everything she says, okay?
I know you’re fully aware of this fact, but Cooper, you’re turning eight next month, and that kind of blows me away. It’s hard to believe that nearly eight years have passed since the day they first laid you in my arms. The day that changed everything; who I am, what I do, when I sleep, what I feel, and so many other things that I could never have even imagined, but that I now wouldn’t trade for anything. You turned my whole world upside down, Coop, and I can’t thank you enough. You keep me grounded. You remind me daily that I have weaknesses that need strengthening. You are the most accurate mirror I have ever looked into. Most days, I’m pretty happy with what I see, but occasionally, I see my own behavior (usually in the form of yelling) reflected in you, and resolve to do better.
I’ve tried to shelter you from it, and someday we’ll tell you all about it (maybe), but these last six months have been kind of rough. Your dad and Danyon started their own business and with that comes a whole bunch of Not Knowing. I don’t deal really well with uncertainty, and there’s been a lot of it around these parts lately. But your dad and I decided that we would do out best to shoulder all the worry so that you and Alex, and June wouldn’t have to feel any of it. I don’t know if it’s because we’re doing a stellar job, or if it’s just because you’re a pretty awesome kid, but you have shown absolutely no adverse reactions to our increasing stress levels. You have your moments when I seriously wonder how my 7-year-old son has been replaced with a 13-year-old girl, but for the most part, Coop — you have just taken everything in stride. Way to roll with the punches, Man. Can I have some of what you’re having?
I know that there is soon coming a day when you won’t want to hug your mom. When your little brother is no longer your favorite playmate. When your baby sister is an embarrassment, rather than a source of endless amusement. When home isn’t your first choice of places to be. We’re not too far away from you thinking we’re complete idiots. But today, you still tell me, “I love you, mom.” without a second thought. You still want to be comforted when you’re sad. You still come to us when things go wrong. You still come to us when things go right. I will do everything in my power to prolong the inevitable chasm that is coming; to always be available to you, to answer your questions honestly, and to find that perfect balance between cheering on your independence while still allowing you to be a little kid whenever you need to be.
I say it every year, not for lack of original content, but because it holds true, and it consistently amazes me: Cooper, you are such a cool kid. You (usually) have so much patience with Alex, and he still idolizes you like you hung the flippin’ moon. You and June make each other laugh all the time, and it’s one of my favorite things to witness. You’re still crazy-smart — sometimes I have to remind you that being nice is more important than being right, but you’re getting better at that. You floored us all with your natural ability at soccer. Enough so that I didn’t even mind driving the mini-van with a cooler full of snacks to soccer games every Saturday. Yeah, you turned me into “That Mom” and I didn’t even care. And I’m finding that to be more and more true — that I don’t really care so much about myself, if it means helping you find what makes you happy. Did you hear that? Your happiness is more important to me than my own. Don’t let it get to your head, Coop. I love you.