You’re a dad. I’m a dad. We love our kids. We shower them with affection, we roll in the floor with them, and we read them bed-time stories. We wash butts, we brush teeth, and we cook macaroni and cheese. It tends to be more Spongebob macaroni than any other, but it’s still macaroni and cheese. We wash clothes, we fold clothes, and we pick out clothes for school, for play, and for bed. We are jungle gyms, swing sets, and monkey bars. We are pogo sticks, ladders, and horsies. However, we are not the same.
There is such a small difference, but it makes me feel so far removed from you. My child has never told me that he loves me. I know that he does, and I don’t need to hear it to convince me. He tells me that I’m awesome, he compares me to Chuck Norris (hey, in this house, that’s one step below bright light), and he includes me in his play. He asks me to build legos, he asks me play chase, and he asks me to play Wii. He doesn’t hug, but he “trust bumps”. He doesn’t kiss, but he high-fives. He doesn’t make eye-contact, but he doesn’t stray far from me in public. He doesn’t tell me with his words, but he tells me with his interactions.
The difference between you and I is that I’m a special needs parent. You are who you are, what you do, and who you influence. You are the job you have, the people you know, and the Klout you have. I gave that up, although not when I first received the diagnosis. I gave it up when I decided that he was more important than I. I am a special needs father, and advocate, a rock. I am a provider, a solace, someone to be angry at when things don’t go according to plan. I am the easy out, the scapegoat, and the enemy. I am his biggest fan, his supporter, and the one that will keep him focused on what he needs.
I can learn from you, and I deeply envy you. Don’t get me wrong, I would never trade one single aspect of my life for anything out there. I love the struggles, the joys, and the laughs, but I sometimes wonder what life is like across the fence. So I look to you for advice, for normality, and for measurement. I know that we are worlds apart, but we are so close. While our children’s development may be different, the roles we play in their lives aren’t. Our outlooks, purposes, and agendas may be slightly different, but we both have the same end result in mind: raising healthy, well prepared individuals with the ability to change the world. Just so happens that mine will do it with untied shoes and mismatched jammies.