December 21, 2014

To Schuyler, at Fifteen

It's funny, I've always written with the idea that one day, Schuyler would be old enough to understand the things I've expressed. It was a driving force behind my book, the thought that one day, she'd be able to read those pages and see what we experienced in her earliest days, and how flawed I was but how very much I loved her, even when I made mistakes. The same has gone for the online writing I've done over the years.

But now, as she turns fifteen, suddenly I'm writing less for the Schuyler of the future and more for the Schuyler who exists now. She's a young woman now, taller than her mother, passing all her classes in her first semester of high school, old enough to watch television and movies that don't make me want to self-injure. Schuyler has even been reading Schuyler's Monster in her iPad. (Her review? "It's pretty good." I'll take that.)

So this is for you, Schuyler. I remember the day you were born like it was yesterday. I remember your squishy little face and how it would turn bright red when you cried, like a tomato. The years between that cold Michigan day in 1999 and today have passed more quickly than seems possible. And yet, I can barely remember what the world was like before you were born. When I think back to the big events of my life, going all the way back to when I was a teenager myself, I imagine seeing you there watching. I feel now like you were always there, even when you were just waiting to be born.

The thing I need you to know today is that this is my favorite day of the year. I love your birthday more than Christmas and certainly more than my own birthday. On your birthday, I get to celebrate the day when your life began, but really, it was the day when mine started for real, too.

Thank you for making me the happiest and luckiest of fathers.

December 17, 2014

Some Thoughts on a Very Very Very Bad Idea

This week at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
When news stories come out detailing the mistreatment of special needs kids, I tend to think that the best thing we can do is shine a light on them, to try to force change through awareness. I'm not always sure that actually works, though; when you turn on the lights, the roaches scatter and run under the fridge, but they don't actually go away. Maybe I'm just helping give the roaches a little exercise.

December 8, 2014

A Scene, and a Revelation

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
Schuyler's percussion teacher doesn't sign, but rather reads lips. That's not much help with Schuyler, whose lips aren't doing a lot of heavy lifting when she speaks. And so a big part of what Schuyler is likely to get from her private percussion lessons has little to do with drumming and everything to do with communication and information exchange.

December 1, 2014

Then and Now

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
When I think back to my high school years, there's a significant difference between then and now. It's a difference that matters, and one that I suspect most people my age might appreciate. When I was in high school, I knew a few people with physical disabilities, but absolutely none with developmental disabilities like Schuyler's. To this day, I have no idea where they were even educated. I'm not going to suggest they were hidden away in some evil dungeon somewhere, eating bugs in the dark or whatever. For all I know, they were receiving a fine education, but they were elsewhere. And my own development as a human being suffered as a result.

November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
I worry for Schuyler around my birthday more then usual, especially with the grey skies and desaturated colors of fall settling in for the coming months. It's just as well that Thanksgiving arrives at the same time. A day for examining the things for which I should give thanks, followed by a season of celebrating the better impulses of humanity, these might be parachutes in an otherwise rapid loss of emotional altitude. Perhaps I should simply be thankful for Thanksgiving and it's slightly contrived but much needed sense of "Quit your bitching and think of stuff to be thankful for!"

November 17, 2014

Boundaries, Drawn with a Dull Pencil

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
Failure is how Schuyler learns. She is a remarkably stubborn kid; she fixates on problems, particularly those she perceives as injustices, and doesn't let go of them easily. (According to Julie, this is a case of the apple not falling far from the tree.) It can be frustrating as a parent, and hard to step back when she clearly does need help, but steadfastly does not want it. Schuyler wants to make her way in the world, even as she struggles to understand it now perhaps more than ever before. That world has become so much bigger, and her part in navigating it so much more complex.

November 10, 2014

Astronaut

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
We spend years preparing our astronaut for her grand mission. Years. Then one day, in the not terribly distant future, we will count down and launch her into the unknown. We'll watch that flame rise into the sky, and eventually its brightness will fade and the rumble of the engines will be too distant to hear, and we'll sit in our mission control, in silence. 
When Schuyler takes flight and soars into the void, she will be alone.