The baby, the big brother?

On the day Sawyer was born, Kellie and I were not a united front. We were not necessarily broken but cracked. Our communication was lost. We were in the midst of the challenges of being husband and wife rather than just being Jon and Kellie.

Our bond was our children rather than our bond as a couple. I just thought it was the way things go. You grow together, you grow apart, and then grow together. It would be the ebb and flow of marriage.

So there we were in the operating room. Kellie was to have a C section. I went in with her and I felt like this was the conclusion to our trilogy. This would be our last child. We would now move onto reinventing our marriage. This is how it was supposed to be.

So that was it. No more children. We would be a party of 5. Roll the credits.

But the trilogy decided to reboot. We started to talk about the idea of having another child. And we weren’t kidding.

As we looked at the last few years, we’ve changed. We have learned to appreciate one another in ways that we didn’t know. We worked with one another rather than on our own.

So here we are. At the age of 41, I have seen loved ones lost, friendships come and go, moments I cherish, and moments I’d like to forget. However, I do know that the legacy that we will be remembered for will be by our children.

The hope is that all three of them will be there for one another.

However, all three will be joined by two more.

As I told Sawyer the news last week as I picked him up, I asked him if he wanted to hear something funny? That his mom had two babies in her belly.

His response, “two babies, how is she going to fit two babies?” This was followed by a giant giggle.

So the circle has now come full. Sawyer was once the conclusion of our family. He now will be the bridge to our future. He is no longer the baby, he will be the big brother.

Off the script

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom was our go to book for a long time. As we would conclude our bedtime routine, we’d spend countless minutes on the very back page where each letter would be represented by its uppercase and lowercase version.

Sawyer would point to each letter and say what it was. There were some nights he’d recognize them and many nights it seemed like it was his first time that he ever witnessed them.

Whether he was 3, 4, or even 5 years old, this was our balloon of hope. Our dream that he would learn his letters and one day be able to read.

Reading opens up doors for all of us. It may even be something that we take for granted as it almost seems like a given. However, nothing is a given with Autism. If something is earned, it hopefully is never let go of.

History has taught me that everything I’ve read about Autism is that the spectrum goes on for miles. I tend to not even try to determine where Sawyer may fall. I’m more interested in his own book rather than compare it to others.

This is why at age 6, I was excited to see him grab books and pretend to read them. I recognized the interest was there. Even though he was scripting from what he had heard, I knew he was closer.

This was no different than the 4 year old Sawyer who climbed up a chain fence one afternoon at Cobe’s baseball practice and climbed down. He may have been two years late to the developmental party but he did it when he was ready.

So when my wife, Kellie called me last week on my way home from work to tell me that Sawyer read over her shoulder an email that she constructed, I was surprised but not shocked.

Nor was I shocked when he read to us aloud that same evening out of his Dora book.

This is who Sawyer is. He does things when he is ready.

He’s a reader now. He does so because he’s off his own script. And right now, his script is being written on his own terms.

Show the way

My oldest son is 9 years old. Like most boys his age, the majority of shock value moments come from the bus. Unfortunately, bus rides these days can tend to be an uncensored, unfiltered YouTube videos moderated by children his age. However, today was more sensitive to him than most rides home.

One boy said to him that he knew three Autistic kids. Cobe responded with his brother was Autistic and that he was fine. The boy came back with that he was sad for him. That’s where the conversation ended.

Cobe unbeknownst to him took the high road. He didn’t get angry or upset. He peacefully told me the story and asked me why someone would say that? My response was that anyone who says something like that has a story behind their reasoning. My hope is that over time that he doesn’t see Autism that way.

Cobe nodded his head and I believe he got where I was coming from. And at age 9, he holds more power in changing the world than he could even understand.

He doesn’t see that Sawyer looks up to him more than being the older brother. He doesn’t see that Sawyer has learned how to play because he plays with him. He doesn’t have a clue that when Sawyer falls that helping him up is teaching him empathy and compassion.

This is effortless for Cobe. This is what he knows. This is who he is. This is what I hoped he would be.

So as far as the bus goes. It’s the real world. Kids will share things. Kids will be kind. Kids may be cruel. Kids just know what they know. I do know that Cobe will continue to be Cobe. He will continue to lead the way.