What a Stranger Sees

I saw you walking your dogs. You had arrived at the deserted park the same time we did.

Me, Cooper, Sawyer, the baby and Jamie.

A family of five.

We park, the doors spring open, and immediately Cooper’s squeals of joy fill the quiet, cold air.

I smiled at you. You and your two dogs.

You are young. Out for a hike.

I imagine you don’t have kids yet. You are a dog mom. That used to be me.

Now I have three boys.

We are so loud. It’s safe to say we are not part of the quiet of nature.

We arrive with a bang.

Sawyer is negotiating something or another for after our walk. Cooper is laughing and immediately bending over to eat snow off the ground. And I am already sweating trying to get the baby into a carrier.

Jamie is muttering something under his breath. I imagine it has something to do with how the last 20 times we came it here it ended in a meltdown. But I choose to ignore it.

We are going to do great. Our son’s anti-anxiety meds have been life changing for him. Today is going to be great.

See we all play our roles. And mine is to keep pushing the outings. I do it because I know how important it is to Cooper. He needs it. And we need it too.

But so often, we fail. Actually, we fail more than we succeed.

But I’m not giving up. Nope.

You and I make eye contact. I smile at you. And you smile back.

‘A beautiful day for walk isn’t it,’ I say.

You agree. Although, that’s not entirely true.

It’s winter in Minnesota. It’s drizzling. A drizzle that will for sure turn to ice later.

I bet you didn’t expect to see anyone here today. You picked to come so you could walk with your dogs off leash and not meet anyone.

Oddly enough, we choose bad weather days for similar reasons. We like the quiet. We like to let Cooper run and know that he is safe. And that we don’t have to worry about anyone else.

Cooper struggles in crowds. He doesn’t understand waiting to slide down the slide. He gets nervous. He likes to be able to just wander.

And we love that too. We like that he can be himself.

I bet you didn’t know that we hadn’t been to this park in over six months. We seem so comfortable here. That’s because this is the only park we can safely bring Cooper to anymore. And we know every trail. Every inch of this place.

Our paths crossed multiple times over the next hour. Once down at the beach. And once again up at the playground.

Although I am suspecting that you could hear us throughout your whole walk.

As the boys were checking out the ice on Carver Lake with Jamie, I let myself relax for a minute and think about you. And what you saw.

A family of five. Parents with their hands full. Three boys. Three busy, wild boys.

You saw smiles.

What you didn’t know is that today was a pretty big deal in our world. We ventured out to a park for the first time in six months.

And we spent more than 15 minutes. We weren’t rushed. Although it probably appeared that we were always moving at a pretty fast pace. That’s just us. That’s our son. Always moving. And we are always one step ahead.

I bet you didn’t know that Cooper let us turn town a different path for the first time ever. We didn’t go the exact same way. Always the same routine. We spent almost an hour walking.

He pointed out trees to us. A water tower. A bird.

Sawyer told us about the hundredth day of school coming up. And how he was excited for his big hockey game. I held Cooper’s hand. I smelled my babies head and kissed his cheeks.

Jamie had a foot race with Sawyer. Cooper even joined in.

I’m sure you heard us clapping. Always clapping. Always praising our son for walking. For waiting when necessary. For staying close. For throwing sticks. For throwing snowballs.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

We managed to get a video of Cooper throwing his first ever snowball. This is absolutely hilarious and made my whole day!

A post shared by Kate (@findingcoopersvoice) on

You saw a family. A typical family. We look no different than any other family.

But we are. We are a family that rarely, if ever, leaves our house as a family.

But today we did.

And good God did it feel good to be out at a park on a Sunday afternoon.

Walking. Laughing. Playing.

You had no idea but you saw a breakthrough. A miracle. Something we’ve practiced a hundred times.

Something we’ve prayed for. And even accepted that we would never do.

Today we were a typical family. For a whole hour.

Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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Comments

  • Lorie Neighbors

    February 10, 2019 at 12:32 pm
    Reply

    I so appreciate that you take the time to educate your readers about Cooper and your family's day to day life. Because those of us […] Read MoreI so appreciate that you take the time to educate your readers about Cooper and your family's day to day life. Because those of us with typical kids just have no idea. Thank you! Read Less

  • Lorie Neighbors

    February 10, 2019 at 12:32 pm
    Reply

    I so appreciate that you take the time to educate your readers about Cooper and your family's day to day life. Because those of us […] Read MoreI so appreciate that you take the time to educate your readers about Cooper and your family's day to day life. Because those of us with typical kids just have no idea. Thank you! Read Less

  • angela juso

    February 10, 2019 at 12:56 pm
    Reply

    Hi thank you for telling us about your trip to the park, it reminded me a lot about our treks, it looks like everyone had […] Read MoreHi thank you for telling us about your trip to the park, it reminded me a lot about our treks, it looks like everyone had a nice time. Read Less

  • Sue

    February 10, 2019 at 1:33 pm
    Reply

    I am so excited to read about the successes Cooper has been experiencing. Awesome job, Mama, Dad, and boys!

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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When my son was first diagnosed with autism no one was talking about it. Autism was hidden. I vow to change that.
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