One of Cole's new favorite things to do? Right before he lies down to sleep at night, he asks me to help him list his friends:
"EMILY, DEANO, AND GRANT ARE MY FRIENDS! MR. MARK AND PEPINS ARE MY FRIENDS! MISS NINA MY FRIEND! CHLOE IS MY FRIEND! KK AND SEAN AND DECLAN BOY AND BABY INARA ARE MY FRIENDS! COLE HAS SO MANY FRIENDS!"
Oh my son. I just wish I could bottle up this confidence and help you keep it forever. Right now, Cole has no inkling that there is anyone out there who might not be his friend. Right now, everyone loves and adores him as much as he loves and adores everyone else. What an amazing feeling, right?
As a mama, I actually feel more concerned about Cole's emotional well-being than physical. I can protect from physically getting hurt. I can put on a helmet, strap him in his car seat, put sunscreen on his body - tangible ways to protect and shelter him from physical pain. But emotional pain? The kind that happens when you feel like you don't have any friends or someone makes fun of you or you are the only one not invited to a party - that's the kind of emotional pain I can't protect Cole from. And it breaks my heart. I cannot bear the thought that someday he may come home in tears, a red blush of embarrassment staining his face as he tells me that someone teased him at school; he was picked last for a team; he was embarrassed by a teacher. I wish so badly to shelter him forever from those painful emotions, to keep him at home with me where I know he is safe and loved by everyone he comes into contact with.
My boy, I know I can't protect you forever. Someday soon, you will go off to preschool and then school. I hate to say it, but you might have to be around some people who aren't your friends - whether its by your choice or theirs. But please, please remember this: You are so loved. I know that may not be much consolation when you are ten and your best friend won't eat lunch with you in the cafeteria anymore; or when you are thirteen and don't make the team; or when you are sixteen and you get turned down by the girl you asked to prom.
But if I have learned anything in my twenty eight years of living, it's that anyone who treats you that way is simply not worth knowing. The important people? The ones who will stick around and help give meaning to your life? They are the ones who won't make you feel bad, who will treat your feelings and emotions as gently as their own - and they are the ones worth waiting for.
I hope to teach you, my son, the kind of confidence in yourself that will power you through those (God willing) few and far between emotional hardships. Hold onto that love of yourself and don't ever let anyone take it away.