On the walk from our car to Lincoln Park Zoo, we passed a middle-aged man, hunched over on a park bench with his knees on his elbows, smoking a cigarette. He looked like he was wearing a shirt that indicated he worked at the zoo, but I’m not positive. As we walked by, Cohen said matter-of-factly: “Hi. I’m going to the zoo.” The man slowly looked up from the ground. “Have fun,” he replied, A few steps later (perhaps we were out of earshot, but maybe not) Cohen looked up to me. “I talk to that man,” he said. And then, his tone just as matter-of-fact, “I love him.”
The next day we were getting ready to go to Pirate’s Cove with Aunt Patti. Pirates Cove is small theme park of sorts for little kids in Elk Grove, complete with two choo choo trains, boats you paddle with your arms, and giant slides and jumping houses. Better yet: it is rarely crowed. Anyhow, Cohen was quickly entering his nap time as we were packing up to get ready to go. (We figured he could take a short nap in the car on the way down.) The small question of asking him to change into some shorts became the trigger for a tantrum. As he sat with his back against the dishwasher door crying, I said “Okay Cohen. We can’t go to Pirates Cove unless you put your shorts on. You let me know when you’re ready.” He replied stubbornly, “I don’t want to go to Pirates Cove!” (even though he had been jumping with excitement all morning to leave. This is how stubborn he can be.) I told him, “Aunt Patti will be sad, but if that’s what you want.” A few minutes later he whimpered, “I’m ready.” As I was putting on his shorts I told him, “Yay! We can go to Pirates Cove now!” And then: as if to admit he didn’t do it for us or the pirates: “Aunt Patti happy now,” he said. Selflessness can win out over stubborness: he’s proof.