Cover child part two

Not many kids can say they’ve been on the cover of a magazine — twice. So 11-year-old Kevin Goddard has something of a claim to fame.

As if he didn’t already. Kevin is the son of Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, whose family roots go deep in our community. Kevin’s grandfather, Sam Goddard, was Arizona’s governor in the 1960s. And his dad is now running for the same job.

But this is a story about Kevin, not his dad.

The first time Kevin appeared on our cover, in October 2003, he was 4½ years old and attending The Family School in Phoenix, a unique nonprofit preschool and kindergarten that blends state-of-the-art practices in early childhood development with parenting education, counseling and other services that support the entire family. The school serves a diverse population of young children and families, which was part of its appeal to Kevin’s parents.

The Family School was founded by Susan Cedar, M.C., L.P.C., whose expertise I tapped in early 1989 while creating a plan to launch Raising Arizona Kids — and whose guidance I continued to seek both personally and professionally as a friend, mentor and sounding board for many years to come.

So when the school’s staff asked me if I would allow them to auction off a “your child on the cover” opportunity at a spring fundraiser, how could I refuse?

I don’t remember how much money the cover raised for the school, but it must have been substantial because three families pooled their resources to purchase it. One of those families was the Goddards.

We scheduled the shoot for our October issue, to coincide with publication of our 2004 party-planning guide for families. Our art director at the time, Sharon Vargas, decided to stage a mock birthday party in the Goddard home, complete with balloons, streamers, gifts and cake.

Any professional photographer will tell you how tough it is to photograph young children — let alone three of them. We had two 2-year-olds (Neo Martinson and Greer Harrison Hansen) and Kevin (far right in the photo). One of our biggest challenges was trying to keep the candles lit long enough to take a picture. The boys embraced instruction to “blow them out on the count of three!” a bit too enthusiastically and we had a few false starts before we finally got the timing down.

Almost seven years later, I was back in the Goddards’ dining room, watching 11-year-old Kevin and his dad get their picture taken for our June story, “Raising a Reader”. I was impressed by the ease with which Kevin carried himself, how graciously he handled our invasion of his home and how cooperatively he followed direction from our art director and photographer.

Before the shoot, I spent some time with him in the family’s lush garden outside. An only child, Kevin is very comfortable in the presence of grownups. He kept up a nonstop dialog as he showed me his dad’s sunflowers (“He’s really proud of those!”) and recruited ladybugs from one corner of the garden to control aphids that were attacking flowers in another. His elbow was scabbed, his knuckles raw. Clearly this is a kid who likes to dig around in life and explore its interesting cracks and crevices.

As the mother of two grown sons, I cherished this brief foray into the mind and world of a curious, introspective young boy.

“I love this age,” Kevin’s mom, Monica, said to me at one point. I smiled, understanding her appreciation for the pleasant period of developmental calm preceding the storm of adolescence.

Somehow I think this well-grounded kid will weather it just fine.

Kevin shows me a ladybug that landed on his arm during our photo shoot in his backyard.