I would like to preface this article by saying I love my son, with all my heart, but to describe my interpersonal relationship with my son can only be summed up as challenging. From the moment he was born, he was a pretty easy baby. I remember the periods watching him stare at sunbeams flowing through the windows and wondering what is it that he is looking at? As a father with a child, particularly a son, you have many wishes and fantasies of camping, fishing, sports, and masculine ideals that quicken your heart in anticipation of the joint participation with him. That was not what was going to happen.
Despite the diagnosis, I didn’t believe it for quite some time. My son was quirky and had particulars that I never recognized as anything that was an alternative thought process. I just went along as if everything was OK, even though my other older son never displayed the same behavior. I remember calling home from work to hear my wife crying. My 4-year-old son punched his mother’s stitches that she had from a recent surgery. It wasn’t that the act alone was the catalyst for a change in my attitude; it was several events that made me see that my son was not normal. I relented to my wife’s pleas, and joined her at child psychiatrist, and agreed to have our son try some medication. What I was hearing from them began to crush those dreams I had for our son. I started to believe that he would never lead any kind of healthy life and would live with us for the rest of our lives.
At the time, and in my immaturity, it was devastating. I was angry and sad at the same time. Kaylynn and I spoke a lot about it. She tried to share what she was learning. I just went with the flow. As the saying goes, “fake it till you make it.” That is what I did. Our son scared me a lot during his growing years.
The many dangerous things he did were oblivious to him. Our family tells stories about what our son has done, and many of them are humorous now, but back then, they would make you turn white with fear. I do have good memories and favorite things that happened with our son.
My son did something that made me angry, and I chased him out of the house. As he took off running away from me and around the other side of the house, I was in his dust. We went around the house running full speed at least three times. By the 4th time, I couldn’t see him anymore. I thought he was still just ahead of me because he was running slightly faster than me. I thought if I could catch him, that would be quite the accomplishment. My son was speedy. I ran faster after him, and next thing you know, the little squirt came up behind me and was on my side. We looked and at each other. My son laughed and took off running again, believing this was a fun game, and he was playing with his dad. I was fuming, but after I saw the joy on his face, I realized this was a game. That child-like characteristic continues to this day.
I couldn’t see it all the time he was growing up, because I had a certain way I believed he was supposed to be, and I was wrong. Little moments like that with my son reminded me how much I love this boy. My son helped me learn unconditional love, and for that, I am grateful. Due to the stable and dutiful efforts of Kaylynn, our son surpassed many of the psychologists’ expectations and ours.
He graduated from High School, he met and married an excellent companion for him, and he learned a valuable skill and trade that will help sustain him and his family for a very long time. These things were not what I thought and planned in my dreams for him, but he accomplished them on his own (with a little prodding by his mom) and has become someone that his brother and sisters fiercely defend.
Our son has had additional health conditions over the years. He created a school lock-down situation in elementary school. After our son had calmed down, and we were able to retrieve him, we took him to the University of Utah Pediatric Psychiatric Care hospital, and he was institutionalized for a couple of weeks. You would have thought that we had abandoned him to the Edwardian orphanage, according to my other children.
They were very upset at Kaylynn and I. (Once our son returned home from the hospital, the stories he would tell about his experience sounded very medieval, but we knew only to believe 50% of what he told us. And they doctors knew to believe only 50% of what he said them about us.) I knew that day, that the bonds between him and his siblings were going to be very strong, and that in all of this adversity, that my children love and like each other and are genuinely friends with one another, and they know no other way.
They were also there for him when another medical issue came up. This one was even more scary and dangerous. His adrenaline would spike, causing him to have amnestic rages. These were terrifying, and I couldn’t help because I was in Korea again. They helped Kaylynn care for him and helped him with his schoolwork while he was having school at home.
My son continues to struggle, and to this day, we do not agree all the time, but he has accomplished so much, and I am very proud of what he has done. Every day is something new, every day is a small victory for him, and we celebrate the small stuff.