We have a new night-time tradition in our household. Gratitude. Every night before we tuck Cole into bed, we sit around Cole’s bed as a family. We all share what we are thankful for in our day. There are no rules. We can be thankful for our wildest dreams, the night sky, the love of our family or we can be thankful for ice cream, Pokemon, and no homework. We only suggest that they be positive.
Sunday night Cole was quick to remind me that we needed to give thanks. As Christian listed off his items of gratitude, Cole kept asking if he could list what he wasn’t thankful for that evening. I hesitated. I didn’t want to put parameters around our conversation, but I also didn’t want to hear a lot of complaints. This is a positive time. No matter how bad the day is, there is always something to be grateful for. I could tell by the expression on Cole’s face that he really wanted to share his items of ungratitude so I gave in to his requests. Sure Cole, you can tell us.
“I am not grateful for people who think it is okay to pollute our Earth. It is not fair that I have to breathe in their pollution. We should all ride bikes instead of cars. We really need to keep our air clean”
Oh sweet Cole. When I say he is a tiny Buddha, I am not exaggerating. Respecting our planet is certainly a quality I hope to pass on to my children. We talk about it as a part of normal conversation, but I have never sat Cole down and lectured him on ways to save the Earth. His statement surprised me, and it made me want to wrap him up in my arms and hold all of his innocence and optimism inside of him.
I do believe my son can save the Earth.
Monday night Cole had finished his homework. We had shared dinner as a family. Chet was tucked into bed. It was Cole’s turn to start his bed time routine.
“I have an idea mom. Let’s not turn the lights on. We can not waste energy, and we can use candles. Everything looks better in candlelight too.”
Monday night we had our gratitude moment by candlelight.
I asked Cole where his ideas are coming from. Did they discuss these things in school? Had he overheard them in our house? He said they were just things he thought we should do to help our planet. Every day I’m surprised by the workings of his brain, and I love when I get to experience this with him.
This year I have watched Cole develop a friendship with his best friend. While Cole has always been social at school, he has never really bonded on a “best friend” level with other kids. He loves to be silly, goofy, and play made up games in the backyard. Conner is his perfect match. They are both good kids who like to do the right thing and laugh their way through every game they make up.
I love watching Cole play on this level. I love seeing him experience the joys of childhood friendships. I love seeing him form bonds that will last a life time. I met my best friend when I was 8, and she is such an important part of my life. I want Cole to experience this type of bond in his life. Will he and Conner grow up to be each other’s Best Man in their weddings? College Roommates? Who knows. But it is a friendship like this that will get him through his first broken heart, his first school disappointments, the moments when he hates his parents and the moments when he wants to runaway from home. I’m so glad he has such a wonderful friend to share his life.
Cole has shown me the importance of being a part of a team and a community this year. He reached outside his comfort zone when he asked to sign up for baseball. He put himself out there, he risked failing so he could feel the sense of accomplishment that comes along with playing a team sport. He thrived on the baseball field. He showed up to practice with a smile on his face. He hustled and tried his best during every game. He learned to accept defeat, and he is learning that one strike out doesn’t define the entire game. I am so proud of the child I saw on the baseball field every weekend this spring.
As the last day of school approached, I asked Cole to draw or write something for his teacher as a thank you for being such a wonderful teacher this year. He slipped away into the living room, and he asked that I not look until he was finished. Will I was busy juggling his brother in one arm and making lunch with the other, Cole drew a dolphin for his teacher – her favorite animal. He wrote down the reasons he loved 2nd grade. He drew tiny crabs carrying her gift card. When he was done he asked me to come look at it. Would Ms. Darden like it? He wanted to make her happy. I have no doubt that his teacher loved it. He made it personal to her. He took the time to say thank you. (I secretly wanted to keep it!)
Thanks to Ms. Darden, Cole fell back in love with school this year. First grade was a rough road. Ms. Darden took the time to know Cole. She recognized his strengths, and she gave him the courage to tackle the things that weren’t his best. She played a huge part of Cole maturing this year.
As a mom, there is nothing better than watching your son fall in love. This year Cole became a big brother to Chet. As I sit here, tears rolling down my face, I never thought I’d see a love so true or so genuine. Cole has matured into such an amazing young man. Every day he gets home from school and he heads straight for his brother. He says hello. He plays peek a boo. He kisses his head. Chet loves Cole more than anyone in our house. He follows him (with his eyes, but I’m sure soon his feet) wherever he goes. Hungry, tired, or fussy, Cole can always make Chet smile.
Watching Cole grow as a big brother is such a gift. I’m so thankful that I get to see it on a daily basis.
Cole Reed – You have shown me how to live my life this year. You have embraced everything that matters. You place value on all the import things in life. Your heart is amazing. I hope I can love our planet as much as you do. I hope I’m as good a friend as you. I hope I can abandon my fears and seek out moments of success. I hope I can remember to take the time to say thank you. I hope I will always love the way your 8-year-old heart loves.
Welcome to the 3rd grade!