A Walk with Sawyer: Parenthood’s Unexpected Turns – Finding Cooper’s Voice

I took two of my kids on a walk this morning. It’s our first real spring like day in Minnesota.

Sawyer rode his bike and I pushed the little one in the stroller.

Five minutes in, Sawyer’s bike tire popped. Like dramatically. Like in a cartoon. WHOOOSH the air blew out.

His face fell. A popped tire was not in his plans.

I told him that we would park his bike in the neighbor’s yard so we could get our walk in. As his mom, I knew his wiggles needed let out. And I needed to be out of my house for a few minutes.

As we walked, he climbed on the stroller. In and out. Under and over. He also let me know he opted to wear his older brother’s shoes. Shoes that were way too big for him. He tripped and fell and lost a shoe every few steps.

Then he found mud. And a leaf. And a ball.

The pace was brutal. At one point I said to my son, ‘I need you to just walk. I need you to be the big brother so I can manage Wynnie.’

As soon as the words left my mouth he spun around, put his hands on his hips, and said, ‘Like Cooper mom? Like Cooper? You forget I’m the middle. I’m not the big brother. You never make Cooper do anything. Because he has autism. But me, I do everything.’

Big feelings and emotions flew out of his eleven year old body.

We walked on. Holding hands. And he asked questions.

He asked me why he wasn’t born the bigger brother.

He asked me if someday he will be older than Cooper.

He asked me if it was okay that he loved his brothers differently. Not less he said. Just differently.

He asked why everything is hard for his older brother. Why nothing is ever easy.

He asked why he wasn’t picked to have autism. He asked why the baby wasn’t either.

And then he asked who was going to take care of his bigger brother after his dad and I go to the clouds.

Honestly, he wasn’t even really looking for answers. He just needed to ask the questions. Each one rolled into the next. Hardly a breath in between.

‘I’ll take care of him mama. I will.’

My Sawyer. The middle brother. The one who isn’t afraid to ask the questions that so many of us wonder about.

He’s a keeper. They all are.

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.


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