When I was young and thought about what it would be like to be a father, I always dreamed of the chance to have conversations with my children that would guide them through their younger years and into adulthood.
I thought about teaching them to ride a bike, chatting with them before their first dates and helping them find their first part-time jobs.
I’m not naive enough to believe they would have always listened, but the interaction was always something I believe I would have treasured.
As anyone who knows my family or follows this blog knows, that is not what fatherhood has brought to me.
While J.P. can communicate in his own special way, there is no sharing of wisdom, bike rides or dates now or in his future.
But that doesn’t mean I feel any less like a father nor am I any less proud of what J.P. has accomplished.
As the parent of a child with special needs, I’ve simply come to appreciate the little things that are major accomplishments for my boy.
The fact that J.P. is 11 years old is huge. His performance on the Florida Alternate Assessment Test is incredible, and his ability to follow directions and write letters on paper have brought tears to my eyes.
He’s much more aware of things going on around him then I would have ever believed, and his personality is precious.
Where I may have once thought I would be active as a parent on the sidelines at a game, I am instead active at a hospital with other parents who want to make a difference.
When I was a boy, my father spent his time as a coach for our high school’s cross country and track teams. I remember spending time with him watching as he took the athletes under his wing and taught them to work hard, not to give up and cross the finish line.
It took me longer than most to remember those things, but when he was here earlier this year. I finally saw the purpose in what he was doing back then as I took up jogging and participating in road races.
The things he taught these kids weren’t just about winning a race, but using that mentality throughout life in everything they planned to do.
My father-in-law is a lot different than my dad. He is a longtime broadcast engineer who worked at the same station where I now work. He worked long hours to keep the station on the air, and he took great pride in what he did. He always would strive to make sure the equipment at the station was top-notch.
I guess being a father isn’t about doing stereotypical things that you might find on a weeknight sitcom. It’s about doing anything and whatever it takes to know your child can be proud of you.
While J.P. will probably never look at me and say, “Thanks, Dad.” I know him well enough to see the appreciation in his eyes, and that’s something I can definitely feel good about on a daily basis.
Happy Father’s Day, everyone!
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