It’s been a tough week emotionally.

That doesn’t mean it’s been bad – just tough.

We live next to AT&T Stadium (home of the Cowboys) and near Globe Life Park in Arlington (home of the Texas Rangers).  On the way home the other day, I saw a father and son on the corner waiting to cross. The boy was wearing a baseball uniform and pulling a wheeled bag.

As they crossed the street, I started to tear up.

Here was a father taking his son to a little league game, where he would watch his boy have a good time playing America’s game.

I immediately thought of my son, David.

He’s seven years old.  He’s also autistic.

John and David, Father and Son
Me walking our with our son through a mall parking lot.

He’s not into sports, and I don’t think he’ll ever play baseball.  The way his brain is wired, athletics isn’t high (or even really anywhere) on his interest scale.  As such, I don’t think I’ll have the opportunity to watch my son play baseball, and seeing the other father and son reminded me of this.

I teared up.

A few days later I was listening to my Folk & Soft Rock playlist on Amazon Music.  One of the songs that came on was “Cat’s In The Cradle” by Harry Chapin.

Driving down the highway, water welled in my eyes as Harry sang about his son wanting to play catch.

David doesn’t really play catch, at least not right now.  He doesn’t have any real interest in it.  Last time I tried tossing a Frisbee with him, he preferred to watch me toss it.  I coaxed him to try throwing it, but he decided he didn’t want to any more.

Again, I thought of David.  Again, I teared up.

There are certain things, at least in my mind, that a father and son are supposed to do.  Playing catch and sports are part of it.  Realizing that David doesn’t – and probably won’t – do either of these is hard for me.

Now, that doesn’t mean David’s life is somehow less full. Neither is this me feeling sorry for myself or my son.  Rather, it’s me struggling with the emotions any parent would have, but also realizing that, despite the differences, there are many, many things for which I am grateful regarding David.

Yes, David is autistic (I don’t like “has autism” because it’s not a disease one catches).  However, David is, in some ways, a high functioning autistic.  He talks, he plays, and he can feed himself.  He socializes with his sisters (to a point), although he doesn’t socialize as well with others.

David has deep passions and interests.  When David is interested in something, he’s all in!  Of course, his interest has changed couple of times.  Right now he’s very much into Bloons TD, a downloadable game where monkeys pop balloons.  David plays the game, watches videos about it, and can tell you not only the name of each type of monkey, but what each upgrade level is for every one of them (and which one is more effective against which balloon).  Next year, though, he’ll be into something else, but he’ll be all in with that, too.

David feels emotions deeply – very deeply.  When he’s happy, he’s ecstatic.  When he’s sad, he’s very sad.  When he’s hurt, he’s in agony.  When he’s sorry, he’s very remorseful.  Of course, as an autistic child, he struggles with how to show his emotions, but he does feel them.

He’s very intelligent.  When David was evaluated for speech therapy, he was reading and understanding words far, far above his age.  When the specialist was doing David’s cognitive evaluation (part of his autism diagnosis process), she said he was off the chart, doing things even 16 year olds struggled with (David was 6 at the time).  As such, David grasps concepts and information very quickly.  However, he struggles with communicating that back.

David is beautiful.  Despite his autism, David is a beautiful, beautiful boy sent by a loving God who made David the way he is for a reason.  I believe the reason, in part, was to bless Olivia and I with such a great boy!

He has his problems and struggles, but he has great talents and characteristics.  While I may never play catch with him or watch him play baseball, I look forward to seeing what he does in life.

Whatever hardship you may be going through with your children, remember that God gave them to you.  That child has talents and abilities, despite whatever weaknesses and hurdles may also be there.

Don’t let your child (or yourself) feel like a failure.  Don’t let him think he have no hope or future.  Rather, encourage him, guide him, teach him, and show him you love him , and thank Jesus for the beautiful gift he gave you in that child.

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