(Okay! I’ve got a really positive entry here. Enjoy!)
I’m grateful for the life my son seems to have. When my wife and I decided to get married and then later to have him, we were in a pretty good place in terms of our personal and professional careers. Getting married and having a child seemed achievable and while we both were quirky, it seemed that the biggest portions of difficulties in our lives were falling behind us. Things didn’t work out the way we planed.
Despite this, my son seems happy and he’s surrounded by a cadre of mentors and peers who love him rather intensely. It’s common for us to go into a store or go through a drive through and have one or more people light up as soon as they see him. Some of these folks are those he knew 10 years ago, but they’ll come racing across a store, mall or restaurant shouting his name and asking him how he’s doing. I don’t know of anyone who gets that kind of movie star response, but it’s very common for him.
This, by itself, is a blessing and it’s truly been a privilege to watch him grow into the man he’s becoming. Knowing him as I do, I would run across a store or mall to say hello as well.
I’m so worried that my own issues and quirks would effect him in a negative way. This isn’t something specific to a parent with CPTSD (complex post traumatic stress disorder). It seems to me that any parent that has even a bit of self awareness would worry about passing on the negative, more distasteful aspects of themselves onto their children. In this respect, I seem rather normal!
What I’m amazed at is the fact that not only has he not picked up my more unsavory characteristics, but he’s one of those young people who doesn’t rebel or arbitrarily controvert me in how he lives his life: He’s becoming his own person, with his own mind and his choices and responses to me, my wife and the world are guided internally, by an independent mind. I don’t know that I can take credit for any of this, other than the fact that I just try to support him and not get in his way. To be honest, being a parent is the easiest thing I’ve ever done. I don’t mean it’s easy in the sense that there aren’t any difficulties, but that I’ve always known the best thing to do for his benefit. It’s never been hard to know what the best thing to do (or not do) for and with him. If I would have to choose between a successful career and being a good father, I choose being a good father – even with all my current pain / struggles and even more of them.
I mentioned that he, like my wife, think very differently than I do and this has made things more challenging as he’s grown older and developed his own, independent, mind (he’s a junior in high school now). But the great thing is that he has learned to set healthy boundaries and been able to develop and maintain a sense of himself without any outside influences. Oh, how I wish I could have learned that!
We share together. We laugh together. He listens when I answer questions about life, politics, relationships, news and more. He thinks out loud and asks me what I think about the things he’s thinking and believes. If we disagree, he’s fine with that, but he doesn’t pretend to take my view even though I’m his father: He retains, respectfully, his own thoughts and positions. To be honest, I don’t know how he could have grown up to be who he is with me as a parent. I’m not sure that I care, I’m just grateful.
The amazing thing is that he started, early, to show autistic symptoms which were rather severe and locked him out of the world which surrounded him. My wife and I signed him up for any and all therapies which we could find for him. Though we had great insurance at the time, the accumulated number and time involved with the therapies still sucked our finances dry and bankrupted us…
…and we’d do it all again if need be.
From starting out almost completely unresponsive to the external world and in special education classes, he now attends all main-stream classes and is regularly on the honor role. I don’t mention this to brag about his academics, but to marvel at the fact that he’s become functional and focused on what his assignments are and what he wants to do with the rest of his life. The fact that an autistic child can inspire people to excitedly run across a room to say hello is nothing more than miraculous. If I’ve done anything right and I’ve done anything right with my partner, I’ve been able to provide enough love, safety and support to a child so that he’s become competent and beloved by all who know him. One of his teachers last year gave him his high school nick name, “El Divino,” which is Spanish for “Divine.” Obviously, it’s not divine in the religious sense, but divine in the sense of being wonderful, heavenly, enjoyable to be around and so on. He certainly is “El Divino.” It’s a bit odd, because we’re not Hispanic…but the name certainly fits!
I often play this song for him when he’s coming down for breakfast or I pick him up from school (The Mask Of Zorro: Spanish Tango). If my wife is with us, she starts to clap her hands and twirl around to the music. My son always giggles and is a bit embarrassed when we do this, but he loves it and is able to appreciate the fact – without arrogance or self importance – that he is, in fact, so “divine.”
So despite my own darkness, he is a light in my life. My son is a happy, well adjusted young man who is filled with empathy, compassion and a very healthy sense of himself and his own reality.
If I can’t achieve this for myself, I’m filled with joy at the prospects and promise my son’s life holds.
For this, I’m very grateful.
Be Well, My Friends,