The Adventures of Fatherhood – Feb. 2

A new weekly segment in this space could simply be transcriptions of conversations with my son Beckett, 15.

In the moment, they  can be irritating. After a few minutes and the benefit of hindsight, these simple chats are viewed with humor.

For instance, here’s how a chat went last Saturday night over the course of about 45 minutes before an indoor soccer game at Northside Park. Yes, a portion of Saturday nights are being spent at the rec center.

Me at 5 p.m.: Okay we are leaving at 5:45 for your game at 6:30, right?

Beckett: Sure

Me at 5:30 p.m.: (From downstairs) you getting ready?

Me at 5:40: What’s happening? (No answer because he’s in the shower)

Me: Why are you showering before an indoor soccer game? And why are you sitting in the shower?

Beckett: Why are you stalking me? And  because (female names deleted)  are coming to watch the game.

Me: Oh, that’s a good reason. Well, we should have left five minutes ago.

Beckett: I know I will be ready.

Me: When?

Five minutes later he comes down without out his jersey and shin guards and the same color socks that are clearly not a pair.

Another example had to do with when is the appropriate time for a teenager to go to bed when he doesn’t have school tomorrow.

Me (at 11 p.m.): It’s pretty late.

Beckett: For someone your age maybe?

Me: That’s entirely too chippy.

Beckett: What’s chippy mean?

Me: Unnecessarily rude.

Beckett: I didn’t mean it that way.

Me: It’s fine, you don’t have school tomorrow.

Beckett: Yeah it’s whatever.

Me: Yeah it’s whatever.

Beckett: Good night, I love you.

Me: I love you, too, don’t stay up too late.

Beckett: I’m facetiming here soon.

Me: With who?

Beckett: Oh everyone.

Me: Oh, well tell everyone hello then, but don’t stay up too late.

Beckett: You got it.

For a kid who abhors long conversations – he calls them lectures – these short little chats seem to be the norm these days.

When life gets heavy on the personal and professional front, there is something settling for me about being around my special needs son. It’s the same feeling I get when coaching kids with disabilities.

Special needs kids, like our son Carson, 14, have a way of simplifying the complexities of life for me. It’s an interesting feeling, one he has always brought to my life to a degree but especially so as our challenges with him have smoothed out over the last year.

Carson has a rare and complex chromosome disorder that presents most simply as nonverbal autism. Autism is just a part of his diagnosis but it’s a label most folks have some familiarity with so we have migrated to using it regularly.

Raising Carson has been a roller coaster ride, one that’s much easier to navigate today than it was at one time. I remember long stretches when the roller coaster ride felt like we were blindfolded. Each special needs child is different, and it’s called the spectrum for a reason. Each has strengths and weaknesses and they evolve over time as the kids mature and learn about themselves. We have matured and evolved right along with our kid, as our experiences and outreach to other parents and sources have made us better at raising him. We know what works and what doesn’t. We also know how to manage our expectations and that has not always been the case. These realizations have all changed over time.

No doubt, there have been horrific experiences that one never forgets but always forgives. Our kid has a heart of gold but there are far more neurological things at play for him than just normal hormones that come with puberty.

Our worst incidents in the past came before we figured out what medicines and approaches worked for him. The most disturbing situations were due to the wrong types of medicines bringing out horrible behavior. Pam, Beckett and I have each been impacted by these experiences with our Carson. We all just want the best for him, but we have been victims in different ways over the years.

Life with him has been the most rewarding, confusing, stressful and unpredictable ride of my life, but the goods far outweigh the bad. There has been a lot of learning while celebrating the wins and learning from what seems like losses at the time.

It’s fascinating to me the impact this complex boy of ours has on me every day. Being around him seems to bring me peace, especially when life seems chaotic. There’s a true irony at play.

Every school morning starts the same way and for me he is the priority. It’s all about following the schedule we have found that works and getting him to school in the right mindset. The process is so detailed I even park in the same spot every morning when we get our Dunkin’ for the same drink and breakfast. It works so we roll with it.

At night, we follow a similar schedule each day. I love joking around with him over dinner, especially liking to tell him various funny things about my day. His sense of humor and simple approach to life keeps me grounded. He knows what he likes. He knows what he doesn’t like. It’s a good what to live. He keeps it simple. I admire that about him and am grateful for the impact it has on me.