Kevin Cotton

Posted July 29, 2010 by jimhigley

My oldest child, Kevin, turns 21 today. That’s him on the left. Circa age two if I remember correctly.

His Uncle Kevin, a pretty famous photographer, took the shot. I remember sitting on the sidelines for this particular photo session watching big Kevin with his fancy camera taking a picture of little Kevin holding his Mickey Mouse camera. Two Kevins. Taking pictures of each other.

It is a moment forever frozen in my mind. Along with about 37 million other ones.

For some reason, one of those other moments that’s surfacing in my head right now was the day Kevin almost was expelled from a very uptight Catholic grade school at the age of five. I was at work sitting at my desk one day when I received a call from Kevin’s school. They said he was O.K. but requested that I come to meet the principal, Sister Something-or-Other, immediately.

I was panicked, as any parent would be, during the 15 minute drive to the school. Had some testing revealed a serious learning disability? I absolutely couldn’t begin to imagine what could be the reason for the urgent meeting.

When I found myself sitting face-to-face with the principal, she started to relay a “disturbing” story about Kevin’s behavior during circle time that morning while his teacher was reading a book. Apparently Kevin decided that was the appropriate time to unzip his khaki uniform pants, and pull the tail of his blue button-up shirt out through it to play with it.

“That’s it?” I asked. “He was playing with his shirt tail?”

“The concern we have, Mr. Higley,” she said to me, ” is the underlying implications of Kevin’s behavior. We will not tolerate that kind of activity here.”

And so began my plea bargaining for this little kindergartener. He was put on double-secret probation. He no longer was allowed to wear shirts with tails. He could only wear tail-free polo shirts. The poor kid had no idea this was all going on.

Not yet in first grade. And he had a record.

That same kindergarten teacher also once complained that Kevin was too “touchy” with other kids.

“He can’t keep his hands to himself!” she’s say. “He’s always touching other children so I make him walk around with his hands in his pockets.”

I look back at that comment today and find humor in it. While I understand her point at the time, I’ve come to realize the irony in it. Kevin, to this day, is extemely “touchy.” If you are his friend or a member of his family – even a coworker – you know what I mean.

To know this young man is to be touched by him. As his dad, I’ve been touched and blessed in ways I never could have dreamed of.

So, take your hands out of your pocket, Kevin. And keep touching people the way your so wonderfully do. Happy Birthday! I love you.

(And, I hope this explains why you have never been allowed to wear button-up dress shirts with tails).