A Trip to the Zoo

We just returned from an outing with just our older son. It was his day to get spoiled by mom and dad.

For the first 9 years of his life he didn’t really care about outings or gifts or getting spoiled.

But slowly over time he has started asking us to go places. Some are not doable…if anyone knows how to get Dora the Explorer to our local fire station please let me know. He’s asked my daily for months now. I’m not sure how long…‘mommy’s trying’ is going to work. He also wants Boots the monkey. Whew.

But some are very doable. Like the zoo. We spent the week talking about the animals he wanted to see.

Zebras, polar bears and penguins topped the list.

When he got on the bus each morning this week he growled like a bear. When he came home he waddled like a penguin.

Today was wonderful. Because of covid restrictions, the zoo was practically empty. There were rules about everything which made our life easier. We all had to walk one way. We had to social distance. It was wonderful. No crowds. No chaos. No lines.

But, we realized halfway through that many of the bathrooms were closed. Thankfully a very kind zoo employee let us use a closed restroom after she saw the our son needed it. I was blown away by her kindness.

After that, Cooper sat down and communicated in his own way with us. He used YouTube on dad’s phone to find a video to tell us what creature he expected to see next on the tour.

A whale. He wanted to see a whale.

I have never laughed so hard. The bar was set high. There are no whales in Minnesota. He danced like a whale. He said the letter W to make sure we understood.

Thankfully, he settled for ice cream in the parked car while waiting for trains to go by.

It was so nice to go slow today. To take our time and not race through. We waved at every single animal. We made sounds. We touched textures and looked at the clouds. We sat and took a rest when he needed one. We were on Cooper time.

We also spread all the autism awareness, sprinkling it at each exhibit. This journey is about growth, his, ours and the worlds.

Little bursts of self injuring are our norm. And in the beginning, Jamie and I used to get very rattled with an audience. Not anymore. When we are with Cooper, helping him through, the stares fade away. We don’t care anymore about the audience. We are unrattled. That’s our growth. And his growth is bouncing back quickly after tough moments. He did that today.

Thank you Como Park Zoo & Conservatory! We will be back…sooner if you get a whale.

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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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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