Dear 8

Dear Sawyer,

I can tell you what you don’t remember. Like the time you were a baby and slammed your feet on your mattress that echoed through the ceiling in our kitchen.

My look of puzzlement would lead to a bout of laughter. It was always expected during the morning hours.

I thought it was cute and it would pass. I never thought it would be the beginning of parts of you that I wouldn’t understand.

At two years old, we would prop you up on a pillow to drink milk out of your cup. Your muscle tone was too weak to do independently.

At age three, we went to the most magical place on earth. However, the familiarity of Mickey Mouse brought you zero joy as you were overwhelmed by the crowds and the long lines.

Months later was your diagnosis of Autism. We finally were given a gateway to hope. With that hope, we began to understand the importance to being your voice until you developed one.

We watched the strides you made at age 4, age, 5, age 6, and age 7. From chewing food, to communicating, to going to school, and making friends.

We have watched you learn to read, learn to write, and inform us when we have taken wrong turns.

All the milestones are just a reminder that what we may not understand is just questions. Your ability to move forward and succeed is always your answer.

Whatever walls you encounter, you go through them. You continue to inspire us with your love and desire to work hard at all you do.

Age 8 is here. If you have noticed, you have made me understand that each year is a building block to where you are. And I can’t wait to see where this year takes us.

I love you,

Dad

Eyes Wide Open

I start. I stop. I stop. I start. This has been my dance over the past two months.

I place my fingers on the keyboard and I blurt out a thought. As I stare at it for a few minutes, I delete it. I’m like a toddler tracing letters in shaving cream. It is real fun until I realize I’m making a mess that only i can clean up.

This is the life of a father of 5 right now. I hold onto the few moments of self reflection. It happens but not like it used to.

Here is the thing. When you have a lot children, you have to find ways to give them what they need. For 4/5 of my children, I tell myself that I get it. I may be kidding myself with my proclamation but when you’re averaging about 4 hours of sleep per night, you too tired not to believe in yourself.

As the school year has unfolded with Sawyer, I’ve had to reevaluate my goals and expectations because they were for me and not for him.

This mindset can happen when you want so much for things to unfold a certain way. I wanted him to be able to close gaps that have unfolded over time. Such as, making friends. Such as, keeping up with grade level work. Such as, being able to communicate his feelings in a age appropriate manner.

However, these were my goals. Articulating my goals as his goals isn’t fair. I didn’t really notice this until one of my 2am baby feedings.

It’s amazing what goes through your mind when your fighting to stay awake.

Regardless, I started to look at what Sawyer has been achieving versus what i want him to achieve. To be specific, Sawyer can calculate elapsed time whereas I was too busy looking at his struggles with basic computation.

Sawyer has made some friends. This goes beyond play dates. He even recently went bowling with a family without us. We are well past the moments of being petrified of how he would interact with adults that weren’t family.

Sawyer has been able to overcome his obsession with music being on in restaurants. Thank goodness that he enjoys eating out again.

So these benchmarks are uncharted waters. They are this way because I wanted to see them. Though my dance is scattered, my eyes have finally opened again.