I can’t imagine being a parent and not appreciating everyone who is truly helpful in my task of parenthood. That’s truer as a result of having a moderately Autistic seven year old than it even was for my other children.
The truth is, that my other children didn’t need nearly as much “stuff” (physical, mental, psychological) as does the Autistic child. This underscored those who were truly being helpful in the upbringing of my little boy. With my other children, most who helped were more or less nonchalant in their “help.” This is not so much the case with Garrett.
Even so, there is a world of difference between what those others did and do, and what a parent deals with where their child is concerned.
My child has had the extreme good fortune, of attending just two daycares, and going to a single school. To make that even better, he has had the same teachers (and mostly the same daycare workers and supplemental educators) for his first two years of school.
I would be telling absolute lies if I said that these were not more or less invaluable and intangible assets.
As if things were not good enough in that regard, his primary teacher is as good at dealing with him as I could have hoped for—she is truly an almost perfect person to which I may entrust my son for his time at school.
But the point of all aforesaid, is that their influence and importance pales in comparison to my own. No, I’m not being “big headed.” No, I’m not saying this is true for me alone, or for the parents of Autistic children only. This is a reality that applies to all parents who choose to take on the appropriate role(s) with their children.
The “dirty little secret?” It is this. Where a child needs to be dealt with in ways that will make him or her grow, develop, learn and mature, before all of that, a child needs at least one (and really a couple of) parent(s) who will get him or her up in the morning. They need someone who will change diapers, potty train, feed, teach basic life skills, buy food, buy diapers, pay rent (or a mortgage) and do a plethora of similar tasks. Even when the child ends up in daycare or school during the day, parents must fill in all the gaps.
Those of you without children probably have no real idea just how daunting a task this actually is. Keep in mind that, by way of disclamation, I know people who have never had children “of their own,” and yet are every bit the parents those who give birth to, are fathers of, and care greatly about, their children. In fact, allow me to mumble under my breath as I talk, and say *cough, cough Brian-and-Valerie-Hinsen!* Not that they are the only folks I know who embody parenthood without being the “natural parents of” their children, but they are definitely one excellent example.
The point is though, where a parent must take the time and effort to look after their children in more ethereal fashions, before any of that, they must be prepared to have baby vomit on their collective shoulders, to wipe dirty backsides and clean runny noses. They must be ready to make lunch, to clean amazing messes, to dress an unwilling child. The must be ready to go to work (and not just for themselves). They must take their children places to run and play. They must teach basic life lessons and impart wisdom.
All of the above and a great deal more are part and parcel with parenthood. And when grandma and grandpa “give a child back,” it’s to the parents. This is, of course, also true for teachers, daycare workers and even doting aunts, uncles and friends.
It is assuredly true that there are a good many horrible parents. It’s a fact that parents run the gamut from award winners and legends to parents with which one would not trust one’s pet rock! Even so, by and large, parents generally are folks who must be, and indeed must be ready to do that which nobody else will do for their children.
So if you happen to be sitting there thinking to yourself as a non-parent, “So what’s the big deal about parenthood?” I urge you to remember that your friends (and your enemies) with children have generally pledged a bare minimum of sixteen years (and often a lot longer) to the rearing and upbringing of their children.
For my Autistic son, I literally may be “stuck with” him for the rest of my life. Now to be fair, I can think of no person with whom I would more like to “stuck” than my son. That by no means implies that I have an easy road ahead of me. Parents with “normal” children may “have it easier,” but it’s no “cake-walk” for them either.
Think about your “parent friends” and remember, their kids soiled diapers, often drank bottles every two hours, complained about dinner, whined about not having enough time to play or not having the toy the wanted and were otherwise onerous to their “loving parents.”
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all spit up and soiled diapers. There are (for most parents) wonderful, even magical times with the child(ren) in question. That being true, forget not that some substantial part of that parent’s time was spent in far from ideal circumstances. They dealt with things they probably had little idea they were likely to see or be challenged with.
The amazing thing? Most of those parents would happily stand in the stead of their child when the child goes through some hardship like cancer, losing a limb or life-threatening illness.
If you haven’t taken the time to look back on the lives of your parent(s), I urge you most fervently to do so today.
You might be able to “see things through the lens of” my descriptive, and it may well totally change your perspective on your own parents.
Thanks for reading, and may your time be good