I am a husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend. I believe in sharing my talents and experiences by giving back to the community by giving my time to coaching, church and especially to the disability community. I truly believe that all men and women are created equally.
I was recently asked if I could change anything about being a father, would I do it. I am sure the person was asking if I could change my son’s diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism, would I. I was able to quickly and confidently answer No I would not change a thing.
Tyler is my oldest son. He is one of my three kids; Madisyn and Spencer are the other two. Tyler is not my son with Down syndrome and autism, he is my son. Tyler is treated just like the other two kids. He has begun doing some chores, like taking the garbage out. Tyler has games he likes to play. Tyler laughs, cries and plays just like everybody else. Tyler also gets punished like the other two kids. I do not cut him slack, he knows when he wants slack he goes to see his mom.
There is no greater joy in my life then to hear Tyler laugh or see him smile. As anybody can attest, a child’s joy is one of the greatest gifts of all.
Tyler has taught me compassion and acceptance. Not that I was a cold hearted person, I did give back to others, just not to the extent that I do today. Many family members are shocked at some of the things that I have done. You see, I almost dropped out of high school to join the Navy. I had no desire to go to college, but my mom dragged me to the registration office just as proud as a mom can be seeing her first born get a college education. I often say that my mom lived just long enough to ensure that I did finish college. She passed away with 1 week of classes and 1 week of exams left for me to complete my degree.
I have now worn tuxedos and accepted checks on behalf of The Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin (DSAW). Our family has allowed us to be near the top of fund raising efforts for the DSAW Awareness walk for many years. I have served as the Board President and Treasurer for DSAW. I am on the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities. All of this because of Tyler.
Tyler has taught me that no matter how tough my day may be, when I come home, I am his dad. He doesn’t care if traffic was bad. He doesn’t care if freight was lost. He only cares that I come home and see him and spend time with him. I often look at Tyler and I am amazed at what he is capable of doing. I am excited about what the future holds for him. He becomes a teenager this year. Pretty soon I plan on showing him how to drive. He may never get his license, but I will show him how to drive.
Being a parent is greater than anything I could have ever imagined. Sure it has its challenges, but we have issues with the other two kids as well. Nothing bad, just growing pains. We have been fortunate that we have had no real medical issues with Tyler, just normal kid stuff.
Most parents go out and do things for their kids. I am doing the same. I advocate and coach baseball with Tyler. I help coach softball and I am beginning to teach Madisyn to cook. I help coach baseball and make Pinewood derby cars with Spencer. As they all get older I will adjust my tastes to meet my kid’s interests. What caring parent has not given of their time in the interest of their kids?
Isn’t that what parenting is all about?
Giving your children opportunities to find out who they are and what they want to become.