Wednesday, March 15, 2006

We interrupt this broadcast....

I started 40 Days of Jesus with the intent of not writing anything original until after Easter. I had gotten fed up with the sarcasm and arrogance of (some of, perhaps most of) the Christian blogging crowd, and decided that if getting readers meant that I had to adopt these kinds of tactics, I was done. I had every intent of retiring and deleting this blog.

What I wasn't expecting was my local newspaper taking something I wrote and deciding to publish it. I submitted A Father's Story, a piece I think is one of my best, to the managing editor of The Chronicle-Telegram, and he thought that there was something there worth reproducing. And not only that, but they were going to do an article about my children with my story as the centerpiece. I was interviewed for an hour and my children were photographed endlessly. Eventually the simple story on my family turned into a large-scale piece on autism which appeared in the Sunday paper. My own daughter was on the front page next to Tony Soprano. And forgive me for sounding prideful, but I loved seeing my name in the byline.

I have received more positive comments about "A Father's Story" than anything else I've ever written; for that matter, anything else I've ever done. Women have been touched; grown men have wept. All of a sudden I'm being proclaimed a hero to fathers. I have to admit, I am not sure how to process that. I am very thankful for the praise that is accorded me and all of the positive feedback my story has engendered.

But a hero? I don't know.

I guess what I'm feeling is that if I have done anything that is considered by others "above and beyond the call of duty" in dealing with my children's disabilities, it is because they are my children. How can I do any less? I do what I do because I have to- not that I feel obligated, or a rule of law is being enforced, or a gun is being pointed at my head- but it is written in my genetic code. Matthew and Rebecca are my children. The desire to care for them, to see that their needs are met and that they receive help for their disabilities, is as much a part of my nature as breathing. How else can I explain this?

Not that this journey is easy. By no means has it been easy. And I certainly have moments where I wonder if there will ever be any improvements in my son's and daughter's development. Today I read a story to my daughter's preschool class. I used different voices for the different characters and the kids got a kick out of it. All except Rebecca; her attention was on something else, something in a world which only she can see. Then I got to sit with Rebecca and some other girls and play with Playdough. She didn't care what kinds of foolish things her father was creating; she didn't respond when it was time to clean up; she wasn't rebelling- she just doesn't understand. Her body is three, her mind is one.

My son came home from school later with a pair of pants that I know he didn't wear to school, a pair of pants that looked like they needed batteries to operate. Turns out he wet his pants today. Six years old, and he doesn't have any speech to tell his teachers when he has to go potty. Six years old, and soon we will have to get diapers from a local hospital supply company because they don't make Pampers that fit a six year old. Six year olds use the toilet. Or at least they're supposed to, anyway.

So I'm depressed today. Depressed because being a hero to a six year old and a three year old with autism spectrum disorder is rough. Depressed because quite a few people think the answer lies in the latest seminar, or an expensive training program, or a best-selling pop-therapy book, when the real answer is not that glamorous. The real answer is simple but complex at the same time. The answer is this: you wake up, love and take care of your children, go to bed, wake up, and repeat step one. Ad nauseam. Simple because loving my children is easy; complex because taking care of my children is sometimes very hard.

But my reward is very great.


Blogger Holly said...

Hi! darling.......your selling yourself short, you are a great father and a great husband..Yes it is a challenge raising 2 beautiful blessings...that are autistic and yes as you know I have those days too..thanks for putting up with me and being there for the kids and I expecially the past 6 months

Love wife

5:52 PM  

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