Monday, 11 June 2012

To the father of my children....

OK, I am taking a big risk here, huge really.  I have been working on this for days and agonizing over how to say this just perfectly, so here goes.  Happy Father's Day to the most transformed dad of the year, consider this an early gift from me to you....

"I may not be where I intended to go, but I am exactly where I'm meant to be"

Parenting our precious little boys is not easy.  Little of what we do on a day to day basis is described in any parenting book I have ever read, I guess that can be said of many parenting experiences, but man, we have set that bar pretty high, haven't we?  It's been a hell of a five years (being a parent), right?  And you and I can both agree at this point that we have been trying to figure out what is going on with Jack, and then Nathan for pretty much the entire time.

I know I can confidently speak for you when I say that almost everything that you pictured being a father would be has been thrown out the window.  I know that when you imagined having sons, you imagined playing ball, and riding bikes, wrestling, little league.  Telling our little boys to be more careful.  Not begging them to go on the slide or get in the pool.  And I understand.  I pictured playing trucks, building with legos, and coloring with my boys.  Not saying, "you WILL color" and "no, not just one line, keep going".  We have had to reframe all of that. And really those are the most minor examples of the true adjustments our family has made.   I don't know if you realize that I was watching you outside with the boys last weekend, but I was.  With the T-ball set.  Trying and trying to interest Jack, to get him to hit the ball.  And trying to keep Nathan from mowing the whole set-up down.  Through the window I could hear the patience in your voice, and the way that you kept calling Jack back (that bee isn't going to hurt you), and trying to get Nathan to put down the sticks that he obsessively gathers whenever he is outside.  You never lost it.  You never acted disappointed with them.  Over the past six months, I have watched as you have finally begun to embrace your "new normal" as a dad.  Corny as it sounds, I am really, really proud of you.

“Autism means having more patience than you ever thought possible, in yourself, for loved ones, for others and achievements yet to come.”
by Stuart Duncan

People may come at you and tell you to "suck it up", or stop with the "pity party".  That's all well and good for someone who has never been through this.  It is perfectly normal to grieve the loss of what we thought our lives would be.  And you had a very long period of mourning.  But I have watched you turn that corner.  Thank you for joining me on this side honey.

“I feel bad for any child who's parents will never accept that they have Autism. If their parents can't accept who they are, who will?”
by Stuart Duncan

Thank you for joining me at the doctor appointments, thank you for paying attention to the diets and the supplements.  Thank you for recognizing and respecting the uniqueness of our boys.  While I'm at it, thanks for asking me what you did in April, I am so glad I said yes, and that we took another huge step for our family.  Thank you for getting up with me Sunday morning and taking the boys to the park.  For letting me have the mindless task of pushing Nate on the swing and screeching "weeeee!!!!".  It felt like a "typical" parenting thing to do.  Thank you for standing motionless in the field with Jack for periods of 20 minutes helping him work up the nerve to fly his glider. Thank you for not losing it when he cried as you launched it and screamed "shit, shit shit".  A year ago......but Sunday you calmed him and made the plane start talking to Jack.  You made the plane ask Jack if he could fly again.  Over and over.  And you waited.  Until he was ready.  And this afternoon, you soothed him when he freaked out about bugs in the backyard every 30 seconds.  For a LONG time.  I kept hearing, "oh Jack, that's just a bumble" or "that's just a honeybee, he's getting nectar, he isn't after you".  There are times lately when you seem more patient with Jack than I am.  This is so new.  And it's wonderful.

And I know you feel the difference in your relationship with Nate.  He climbs up to see YOU at times now.  I know you only think he does it when I'm not available, but I can see on his little face that he is happy to be with you.  Thanks for using his PECS, making him ask for something before he can have it.  For chasing him around the house in circles, for looking for your shoes all over the place now that he likes to "pile" them in various secret locations.

Most people would not consider this "normal" parenting.  And maybe it's not.  But it is exactly what our children need.  Frankly, I have come to subscribe to the idea that "normal" is just a dryer setting!  Our kids need to be embraced for the wonderful little people they are.  They need people to be sensitive to their unique needs.  And you are doing that.  You are helping me face these challenges and working with me as a member of the team.  You are putting us and our family first.  You are being a great dad.  So Happy Father's Day, your family loves you very much.


  1. That made me cry, honey. Thank you for writing this and for everything. I love you and the boys very much.

  2. Well you earned it. It take a MUCH stronger person to confront these issues than it does to pretend everything is ok.

  3. Unfortunately, my parents had to suck it up when they learned of my diagnosis. When talking about autism with my relatives, my parents only talked about the great things I am doing in OT with autism (fortunately I am doing enough to make them proud). My parents and I dodged about the subject of my issues (which are relatively minor comparing to other individuals with autism, however) whenever we can. After all, it is a shameful thing in Chinese culture. This is evident by the number of autism books (as majority are translated) and blogs out there on autism.