Tuesday, June 25, 2013

My Songbird Sings the Truth

Originally published on June 17, 2011 at the Autism Society's blog:

Every little thing is gonna be all right,” Mikey sings as he runs down the hall with a big smile on his face. The sound is pure heaven to me and I feel myself grinning from ear to ear.

Bob Marley’s song “Three Little Birds” is more commonly familiar from the line that Mikey has made so adorable: “‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right.” The song appears in a children’s video that plays during one of Mikey’s TV shows and it has fast become his favorite video to watch.

As any parent of a child with autism can attest, any words that come out of your child’s mouth are heartwarming miracles. Mikey started singing this song the other day and at first it was just adorable and cute, but then after I listened closely and read the lyrics of the song, I felt so uplifted and saw it as if Mikey was really talking to me.

“Don’t worry about a thing”

When it comes to Mikey my normal reaction IS to worry about everything. I would do anything to help him with his autism and I do everything I can to make him happy and loved. As I think of that line I realize I need to stop worrying about the things I can’t change.

“Rise up this mornin’/Smiled with the risin’ sun”

One of the best sounds in the morning is to hear Mikey wake up singing. I can’t think of a better way to start the day and this line makes me remember to cherish that sound.

“Three little birds/Pitch by my doorstep/Singin’ sweet songs/Of melodies pure and true”

Mikey is my little songbird. Most of the time his speech is littered with echolalia and gibberish, but it’s those times, those sweet, sweet times, when he says a word or phrase perfectly, or, when he sings—those are the most pure melodies of truth I can ever hear. For every grunt or whine there are those infrequent times of joy when I hear “I luff you,” and then, then all is right with the world.

“Sayin’, ‘This is my message to you-ou-ou”

I hear you talking to me Mikey. I do. And I will always listen. I can’t wait until the day you can tell me every single thought in your head. I’m listening.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Celebrating My Son on Father's Day

Today was my eighth official Father’s Day. Before my son, Mikey, was born I never completely appreciated this annual celebration. But, now, it’s one of my favorite days of the year.

I’ve come to realize, though, that this day is kinda backwards. I feel like I should be honoring my son instead. If it weren’t for this amazing little boy I’d never know the absolute joy of being a dad.

Now, I was an uncle to three beautiful nieces before Mikey was born. I love them all and they had me wrapped around their little fingers. It goes without saying that I was always a little envious of their fathers. After Mikey came along I realized that you love your nieces and nephews, but loving your child is to a completely different level.

It wasn’t until having a child of my own that I truly understood the pleasures and pains, ups and downs, and unconditional love required of a parent. Mikey offered some challenges as a newborn and then, of course, there was the autism diagnosis...all requiring me to dig down deep for strengths I never knew I had. There is no doubt in my mind that Mikey has made me a better man.

The biggest changes Mikey made necessary for me were patience level and being unselfish. Those traits come in handy on a day-to-day basis and I consider them my duties as a good father.

I know Mikey knows that I love him. But I don’t think he knows, or will ever know, just how much I’m in love with him. He has no idea that I often sneak looks at him from across the room as he dances by himself with the complete freedom and joyfulness that only a child possesses. He doesn’t know that I stare at him sometimes when he’s sleeping and smile at his cute little nose and his rosebud lips that he stole from his mother. Those are the innocent, meaningful moments that erase any stress or frustration that may come from raising an energetic, stubborn little boy.

So, on this day where we celebrate fathers I want to turn it around and celebrate my son. Thank you, Mikey, for making me truly love and understand the word, “daddy.”