The nice thing about having your own blog is that you get to declare things with no oversight committee. So, today I am declaring my father – 2012 Flappiness Is Autism Grandparent of the Year.
Being the grandparent of a child with autism can’t be easy. On one hand, you are worried about your grandchild. On the other, you are worried about your own child – the mom or dad. You want to help, but you don’t want to interfere. Or maybe you do — in which case you will end up on an altogether different kind of post. 😉
My dad is awesome. And, since he never toots his own horn, I’m going to do that for him. So, Dear Reader, please allow me to share with you the eight reasons why he wins:
1. He has never – not even once – unburdened himself on us about his own fears or grief. He is wise enough to understand that we have all we can handle of our own. I am sure he worries, because I know he loves his grandson. But he has rightly concluded those feelings are best shared with others.
2. He does not presume to tell us what we should be doing with regard to raising, educating, or providing treatment/therapy for our son. He listens to me discuss it — at length – but just nods and says something to the effect of “Alright. That makes sense. So where do we start?” If I ask his opinion, he’ll share it. But, otherwise, he merely supports what decision we have made. I haven’t asked him why he is so good about this, but I suspect it is because he trusts me to have researched a topic to death before arriving at a decision and that he thinks I have good judgment. I really appreciate that. And, because of that, I seek his counsel more often.
3. He doesn’t get upset when we inadvertently forget something. He knows our days are busy and our stresses many. He knows that therapy and specialists cost a lot of money. And he doesn’t get the least bit upset when we find it necessary to do a “just buy gifts for the kids” kind of Christmas. He’ll tell you that us forgetting things just buys him another “get out of jail free card” for when he forgets something. But, humor aside, he doesn’t sweat the small stuff or attempt to test our affections.
4. He stays in the here and now. Because he knows it is too early for predictions, he doesn’t ask for them. He doesn’t pester us with “Well, does the therapist think he will talk one day?” or “When is he going to ______?” These types of questions not only cannot be answered at this time, they also cause us a great deal of anxiety. I’m sure he wonders as well, but he doesn’t burden us with it.
5. He doesn’t bat an eye at the disaster area that is our home. Not even once. My dad has seen the crumb devastation our little human wood chipper wreaks when eating, his penchant for writing on walls, and his love for testing the properties of gravity with all living room objects. So my dad just clears a spot and settles in for the visit.
6. He doesn’t place guilt on us for the things we choose to decline – like parades, chaotic birthday parties, or piano recitals. He understands that there are some things we just don’t want to do with Callum and that there are some things Callum just doesn’t want to do period.
7. He has never attempted to deny there was a problem. Even from the beginning – when others were saying, “He’ll be fine” and “He’s just a boy”, he never silenced my fears by suggesting that nothing was amiss. As nice as it is to be reassured everything is okay, it doesn’t silence your intuition. My dad is great about acknowledging a problem without carrying on as if the sky is falling. People like that keep you grounded.
8. He truly enjoys his grandson. When he visits, he delights in the child Callum is right now – rather than adopting The Look of Tragedy every time he sees him. It’s important for a child to not only be loved, but to be liked just as he is. And, because he accepts my son for the wonderful little person he already is – rather than waiting to see who he will become – he is able to enjoy his uniqueness as well. When Callum does something remarkable – something that can be attributed to autistic traits – he gets a kick out of it. And although, like me, he worries about him, he also finds him fascinating. That’s unconditional love, with the stress on — unconditional.
P.S. And one more fabulous thing about my dad. He subscribes to my blog and reads me every day!
So, who do you nominate for Autism Grandparent of the Year and why?