Dear 7,

Sawyer,

I used to think a birthday was a formality. Just another day on the calendar that would bring cake, presents, and balloons. This was until years after you were born that I understood the true meaning of February 20, 2011.

I remember that day. I remember taking for granted the notion of having another child. In 2011, I just felt that health, milestones, and the thought of a baby would be easy. That’s who I was back then. I was self consumed with the picture of a family but not the work that went into it.

When you came along that early morning, I held your finger. I smiled. I checked on your mother. I wondered when I’d get your brother and sister to meet you. And I rushed through the the joy of you being with us.

I did so because I thought of you as being the next child in the family. That you would come home and your life would be like that of your brother and sister.

But that wasn’t you. You struggled from the moment you got home. Your legs wobbled when I held your hands. You couldn’t hold your own bottle. You had little words to speak.

As each year passed, you had to work that much harder. As your peers walked, you didn’t. As your peers played, you didn’t. As Autism arrived, you ran with it.

The beauty of your narrative is that it continues to grow. You continue to reach milestones that we didn’t know you would reach.

That’s what I now take with me as we celebrate you. I no longer look at a birthday as a formality but a gift to celebrate. Today we celebrate you and I celebrate the appreciation of what you have given me. It’s 7 years of life that has made me my best version. And that’s a lot to celebrate.

With love,

Daddy

Give him a chance

Sawyer was ready. He’s been ready for nearly a month. It was almost like the countdown to Christmas because being invited to a peers birthday party was that big of deal in these parts.

It’s not just the invite alone that was exciting. It’s the recognition that Sawyer isn’t little anymore. He’s almost 7. Friendships are beginning to form and we are wondering how he will fit in or can he?

The progress is there. I see it. I see the work that is being put in behind the scenes. From the social groups, to reading, to the fight for independence. Like my son Cobe said recently, “daddy, Sawyer would never been able to do that 3 years ago.”

He’s right and he was referring to raising his hand to tell someone his choice of food.

Now there are moments that are frustrating too. Such as a recent trip out, Sawyer HAD to use the bathroom in each place we stopped at. For whatever reason, he is fixated on the sound of the toilet flushing. It’s how his brain works. It’s a part of the gift of Autism. It’s endearing the first time but not the 15th!

However, it’s who he is. And I love that about him.

I also love that when the lights went out during his friends birthday party, he wasn’t worried. He knew it was part of the bounce house theme. He could roll with it.

He jumped. He ran. He checked in with me to tell me he was having fun.

I don’t know how it will all play out in the future. I don’t know what friendships will be to Sawyer. I do know that today was a chance. Today, Sawyer was given one.