Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

All by Self; a Father's Tribute to His Son's Struggle to Grow

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

All by Self; a Father's Tribute to His Son's Struggle to Grow

Article excerpt


GETTING DOWN ON THE FLOOR, I joined you this morning and discovered a new world before me. Lying on my back, I suddenly saw the world as you must see it. I felt radiantly alive, the world around me big and mysterious, my pulse and breathing amplified. I became aware of my vulnerability and, at the same time, I felt powerfully centered. This place where you dwell is the only place to move from. Not just to raise you up to be like me, but to also grow with you in ways I had long forgotten.

For most of us day-to-day choices in life are automatic: We get out of bed, walk to the shower, say "Good morning." Rarely do we stop to figure out how to do these activities. You, on the other hand, have to decide to lift your head to see, your hand to reach, your foot to go forward.


Today was your birthday and all your friends were coming. Arriving first was Susan, your centering teacher. She took off the braces that inhibit your feet from distorting as you grow. She wants you to crawl with full feeling in your feet.

Lying on my back beside you, she turned to you and said, "Show your daddy how you roll to the stairs." You curled up and rolled one half turn. She beckoned me to follow. I rolled a little, then you rolled and squirmed, and then we rolled together. At the stairs you descended slowly under Susan's instructive touch. "Hands to face," she reminded you. "Spread those fingers -- flat hands. Give a little push!"

Your physical therapist, Faye came next. She put your braces back on and took you through sitting to standing and walked you all around the house.

Your walk with Faye ended at the breakfast table and in came Lois, your occupational therapist, bearing lemons. When Lois gives us lemons, we make lemonade. I put a spoonful of honey in a cup under the juicer spout. Lois put your hands on top of the lemon half on top of the motorized juicer, and pressing down you made lemonade.

Lois always brings little things for you to hold in your right hand. Today she brought all kinds of vehicles -- a bus, a car, a train -- you liked the airplane best. "Up" and "down" you directed Lois to fly her plane as you piloted your plane all-by-self.

Fran, your speech therapist, came in the afternoon. Fran makes you say the specific name of things you want. At least you have to try to say them. When you want something to drink -- water, juice or soda -- you cannot say "gargle" for Fran. "Gargle is the oriental word for liquid," I told her. Then I told her the true story of why you use that word for all liquids. At an early age you saw me gargling with water, and you wanted to gargle too. I gave you water to gargle and you drank it. From then on, all drinks were "gargle."

After dinner, after the cake and the candles that you almost blew out with your first breath, after the presents of which you mostly enjoyed the unwrapping, your day ended when the best therapist of all applied her great life-energy stimulation technique. Your mother's "tickle-fingers" touched your very core with radiant, healing laughter.


"Hold me!" I heard as I drifted awake from a deep sleep in the dark of night. The words came from just below the side of my bed.

"Is that you?" I mumbled, slowly awakening.

"Di-di Daddy," you said. Translation: "kiss-kiss Daddy." I thought to myself: "He can't crawl yet, so how did he get here?" I quickly reached to pick you up, fearing that your mother had brought you in to sleep close to me and, without knowing it, while I slept, you had rolled off the bed to the floor.

Your mother told me the whole story as she had pieced it together from the sounds you had made on the long journey from your bed to ours. It went like this:

You woke up in the middle of the night, as you often do, and instead of crying, you began making singing sounds. …

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