In honor of National Purple Day, I am wearing purple in support of one of the most profound kids I have met, my son’s buddy Connor. I can’t fully explain the impact Connorman (as we have come to know him) has had on our family so I thought I would share a story instead.
It was our first day at our new school and my 3 year old son, Cooper was nervous. The kid who could do anything and had been through everything, was apprehensive about going back to school. You see there was a boy in his new classroom that had Epilepsy. Because of his epilepsy, he was wheelchair bound and non-verbal. But he was still a boy, a boy with feelings and thoughts and friends. Cooper just wasn’t one of them. Yet.
Every night at dinner, my husband and I asked Cooper if he had talked to Connor. We encouraged Cooper just to say hi to Connor and usually it was met with a scared 3 year old whimper of “But I’m scared.” We asked Coop to think about how it would feel if he couldn’t play with blocks and couldn’t talk with his friends. Wouldn’t he want a friend to say hi to him? He agreed. We reminded him that Conner could still hear even if he couldn’t walk, or talk, or play much. But he still had ears.
Every day, we casually asked if he had said hi yet. Some nights, Cooper would still respond with his scared voice. Some days he would say no but his friend, Sadie did. Some nights we talked about how leaders do the right thing even when they are scared.
So, we set a goal. Before they moved to Pre-K, he would say hi. Cooper agreed and thought that was a good plan.
I remember the day like it was yesterday.
We were walking out of school less than two weeks after setting foot in that classroom. I had Cooper’s 17 month old brother by the hand, my laptop bag on one shoulder, my work bag on the other and my lunch box in my one free hand. Cooper was walking next to me, close enough to count as holding my hand. Cooper looked up with a nonchalant voice and said,
“Mommy, I have something to tell you. I know you and Daddy will be proud… I met my goal, today. I said “Hi” to Connor. And guess what, it wasn’t scary at all.”
I literally dropped all of my bags (and the baby’s hand) in the middle of the parking lot to scoop him up with the biggest and best high five ever. But it wasn’t that I was proud of him for meeting his goal, or overcoming his trepidation, I was proud that HE was proud. He was beaming. For doing the right thing, for seeing past what he thought was scary, and for accepting a friend for who he was, even if it wasn’t what he originally thought a friend looked like.
The love that Cooper had for Connor only grew. A year later, Cooper was pushing Connor’s wheelchair like he had always been there. Today, Cooper still rocks his “Connorman” shirt with pride, a shirt we purchased a year ago to support his family as they faced one of the scariest battles of their life.
To support kids like Connorman, you can do so by heading over to The Epilepsy Foundation of Virginia.
Today, Cooper isn’t scared of anyone different than him, he acknowledges their differences and loves them for them.
Connorman taught him how to do that.