I’ve mentioned before sitting on my nightstand is a frame I received for my first father’s day. Inside is a picture of me reading to my son when he was about 6 months old. And next to that a quote my wife found that reads,
while we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.
I’ve been reminded of that quote a lot lately. Watching both of my children grow up and learn everyday is a blessing I’m constantly grateful for. I know there are so many children whose parents are no longer with them and my heart truly aches for them.
A parents job is multi-faceted and unrelenting. One role we take on is that of a teacher.
I thought I would have to teach my child about the world. It turns out, I have to teach the world about my child.
My beautiful, smart, energetic, loving son is Autistic. The word, the disorder, the tantrums, the long days, the routines, and challenges do not scare me. The thing I fear the most is how the world reacts to my son, how they will treat him when I’m not around.
I’ve witnessed the cruelty this world can bring. I’ve seen my wife come home in tears from the grocery store and people we thought of as friends talk about us behind our backs and quickly disappear and rarely be heard from again. I’ve seen the looks and stares. Heard your rude and crushing comments and felt the pain of those words.
No, my child is not bad. No, my child is not acting out. No, my child does not need a spanking. I want to scream these words to people, yet sometimes still have a hard time remembering them myself. It’s true.
There are days where my wife and I do not have the strength to make it to bedtime. Then when he is asleep, we go into his room and adjust his blankets, rub his hair and give him a kiss. We look at him in those moments, everynight, and we realize he gives us the strength.
Mother Teresa once said, “I know God will not give me more than I can handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.” If a Saint can feel that way, I guess it’s okay for me too! One thing I’m learning is Autism will always be a part of my son, but it is not who he is. He is so much more than a diagnosis.
That is why our Piece by Piece race this weekend means so much to us. We are trying to not only raise funds to help with research, we are also giving other families in the community a safe, non-judgmental place to bring their children and enjoy the company of others fighting the same fight.
The medals we will award represent the athletes hard work; but what does the puzzle piece ribbon on the medal represent?
The puzzle pattern represents the mystery and complexity of autism. Different colors and shapes represent the diversity of people and families living with this disorder. Lastly, the brightness signals hope.
Hope of a new day, new chapter, new treatment, new beginning, new breakthrough.
Hope for acceptance. Hope for change.