Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Value of Leaping

Even without shoes, this one managed to beat me at the Indianapolis Museum of Art mini golf course (although the fact he was also the scorekeeper may have added to his success).

What I love about summer is the pockets of flexible time when a child can ask, "Can we go there?," and there is no reason why we can't.  We passed by this park near downtown Indianapolis, and I just couldn't say no to the boys pleas to stop and play.

One of my very favorite summer traditions: a canoe trip down Sugar Creek by Turkey Run State Park.  This year we attempted the six mile trip.

With Connor at basketball camp, it felt a bit like someone was missing on the trip (but Cooper's lively personality kept us laughing despite his brother's absence.)  

This was my canoeing partner whose introspective manner made the ride serene and delightful.

Another favorite summer tradition: spending a day with my childhood friends.  As the years and wrinkles have increased, the happy memories have multiplied.  

I insisted he change into a swimsuit at the splash park.  He huffed at this suggestion, but quickly jumped into the nearby restroom and changed.  Within seconds, he emerged from the bathroom wearing a suit and a grin.  He raced onto the concrete, as if by magnetic pull, dodging sprays of water and pooled puddles.  A little girl in a drenched pink tutu trailed behind him like a lost puppy.  Within minutes, Cooper transformed into the pied piper of the splash park with a legion of followers who thought his every harebrained move was ingenious.

This is Cooper, I thought.  The kid who jumps, then thinks.  The one who leaps into life and squeezes every last morsel of joy and fun out of the experience.  I've always heard what we love about our spouse can also be the their most challenging personality trait.  I think that applies to children too.  Cooper's spontaneity, jubilant, lively personality makes him both endearing and dangerous.

Over the summer, I've seen the upsides to Cooper's personality. I've witnessed things in his character that I would love to emulate.

For example, our pastor neighbors just adopted two children, ages nine and seven years old.  Cooper knew the children would soon arrive at the neighbors' home.  He rang their doorbell for days asking to play with his new friends.

At the end of the week, the children finally arrived at the neighbors' home.  It was a stormy day, and Cooper fought fat rain pellets to land at their doorstep.  As my neighbor described it, she opened the door to find Cooper bundled in his winter coat with his hood mostly covering his face.  Underneath the coat, he wore baggy shorts and flip flops.  What was exposed beneath the layers of clothing was Cooper's 1,000 watt smile.  

"I'm hear to meet my friends," he announced while practically pushing her out of the way to make his acquaintances.  She said she didn't have the heart to turn him away.  Within seconds, Cooper and her children were darting around the house in a fierce Nerf gun battle.

As she recalled the story, tears welled in my eyes.

This is Cooper.

A friend to all.

Fearless and loving.

Hilarious and friendly.

Kind-hearted, color-blind, open-hearted, and welcoming.

While I hope to teach Cooper the value of looking before he leaps, I hope Cooper teaches me to find the joy in the leap.  

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