I’ve been putting off this post for a while now. There are a few questions I’ve been asking myself: How can I put into words the ineffable? How can I possibly convey in a post what he means to me? How can I write about him in a way that honors his dignity and anonymity? How can I share how difficult life can be at times without eliciting pity? And where to begin?…
This post is about F, who we’ll call The Little Professor.
My oldest child is a loving, laughing, kissing, hugging 7-year-old boy. He also hits, screams, bites, pulls hair, wakes up every night, has no speech, and is still learning to use the toilet. He has been tested, diagnosed, re-assessed and re-categorized more times than I care to count. He is the oldest of the three boys in our blended family household, but he is also the youngest in many ways. His development progresses at approximately half the rate of that of a typical child. This means milestones take twice as long to reach, if they’re ever reached at all. I’ve never, for example, heard my first-born son say “DaDa.”
I read an amazing blog post the other day called The Hidden Costs: On shifting the paradigm of Special Needs parenting, a featured post on Epic Parenting. Katie not only sheds light on some of the hidden expenses involved in raising a child with special needs (missed work, diapers/pull-ups, extra laundry, home repair, even mattress replacement), but provides perspective on the heartache of lost dreams represented by a sparsely filled out baby book. This post hit close to home for me. Please take a moment to read it.
They say God/the Universe will never give you more than you can handle, and that learning happens when you’re ready to see the lesson at hand. Undoubtedly, there are events in our lives that either make or break us. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll experience both. What better way to recreate something (including yourself) than to completely break it down first? It’s an opportunity to sift through the pieces and make something that resembles the original work, only stronger and renewed.
I’m about to disclose something that I’ve only shared with a couple of people. As afraid as I am to admit it, I think it could be helpful to other parents of kids with special needs. Background first: I was a stay-at-home dad with The Little Professor from the time he was 10 months old (three months before he started receiving in-home therapy services) until he was almost six. During that time, I shed an innumerable amount of tears of happiness, sadness, joy, despair, elation, anger, frustration, etc. But in the early period, I cried mostly out of depression. There were at least a couple of times when it was too much for me to handle and I called my wife in tears begging her to come home early from work. But that’s not the part I’m embarrassed about.
Early in my time as a SAHD, when TLP was a toddler, I got so angry and frustrated with his disability that I screamed, “I HATE YOU! I hate you!” And in that moment, I meant it.
Really, I was angry about his disability. It was about a half-hour into one of his fits of screaming and crying inconsolably, and of course I had been severely sleep deprived and worn down, and it got the better of me. That was the day I broke down.
That was the day I was reborn.
I won’t say that I haven’t had my bad moments since then, but my life has most certainly changed, and I credit (and thank) TLP for that. I started to seek meaning. I had to. There had to be purpose in TLP’s life–purpose in life in general.
This old spirit in a young body–this guru–put me on the path to happiness. He’s taught me more about patience, acceptance and love than any individual pastor or prophet ever could. I belong to the church of F, where he presides with the most distinguished title of Little Professor.
Thank you, my Little Professor, for the ways you’ve enriched my life so far. I’m looking forward to many more years of lessons.
Parenting from the bungalow,
Chris, Eager Pupil of The Little Professor
P.S. As usual, comments are welcomed and encouraged! Thank you for reading. If you enjoy reading my blog, please “like” facebook.com/fromthebungalow. 🙂