Every child I meet at Genesis is unique and has his own set of views and interviewing Cooper was no exception. He has been with us almost a year and is in the fifth grade. He was dressed in jeans with dragons on both knees and he thoroughly enjoyed showing them to me (and no one else had a pair like his). He has a lot of siblings, and they are older than him as his parents were considered older as they had him late in life. He does visit them, and I was told he was autistic, and he displayed signs to that effect. The staff member, who introduced me to Cooper, shared with me that they had been in more than one group home and truly connected with these boys.
Cooper likes pickles. He prefers sweet pickles over dill pickles. (In fact, he said he loved them!) One of his favorite activities at Genesis is using the punching bag with gloves on and he is an accurate puncher and does an excellent job.
He enjoys watching TV and loved to watch “Turning Red” which is about a girl who got mad and turned into a Red Panda Bear named Mei Lee. The crux of the show was the girl needing to learn to control her feelings and by the end of the movie, she acted better, and Cooper thought that was a good message for all the boys residing at Genesis, himself included.
Cooper likes school and being on the computer is his favorite thing to do, especially playing the games, even the educational ones offered. He is a good mathematician and we talked about careers that he could consider if he truly enjoys math, and he acted eager to learn the doors that could be opened in the future. He delighted in riding horses and swimming and preferred kick ball over playing football. He had definite opinions in a wide range of activities. He shared that he would like to become a police officer as he had met officers in Pawnee and Ponca City, and they were very kind to him.
We shared a love of roller coasters and our reactions when riding on good ones. He loved the fast one at Frontier City and he screamed the entire time he was on it, and I could relate to his reaction as I am a screamer too. I told him I might accompany the boys the next time they go, and we could ride together (and the whole park would know we were there)!
It was obvious he was a good eater as the only food he did not like was rotten food! (Thankfully, he has not received any bad food while at Genesis). He listed all the fruit and vegetables he enjoyed eating and he loved them all! It was nice to be around a young man who is not a picky eater (and I told him I wished my own grandson could learn to enjoy a variety of food just like he did!)
Cooper is learning to control his temper and when he is stressed, he uses his headphones and listens to music, especially country artist, Kane Brown. He said it calmed him down and makes his life go easier. He loves pink and blue and planned to be a ghost for Halloween. He was full of energy and talked up a storm and made me wish I could bottle up his energy! He was an enthusiastic, fun boy to interview and was making strides which is exactly what we all want.
(A statue of Mei Lee from Turning Red inside the CN Tower in Toronto)