It is interesting to me how much my view of the world has changed since becoming a father. My first born son’s name is Kael. He just turned three years old and although he is very healthy and active, there are some areas that he has to work a little harder than an average three year old. Kael doesn’t talk. I suppose I can clarify that statement a bit more by telling you that Kael actually talks a lot, but you can’t understand him. It’s not a speech impediment at all, it’s a different language. Kael is communicating all the time but mostly it sounds like jibberish. We are told that Kael is challenged with what is called Sensory Integration Disorder which mostly means that Kael doesn’t process external stimuli like you and I do, and therefore he doesn't react as intelligently as one could.
For instance: Kael doesn’t feel the shape of his mouth or the placement of his tongue when trying to say a new word and although Kael can try and repeat what you are saying, he is still difficult to understand. “Kael, can you say Grandpa?” Kael smiles and says “ooh ooh”. “Kael, let’s try again..say Graaaannndpaaaa.” And with more concentration in his face he says, “oooooh oooooh” again. After a couple of tries we simply clap for him and say, “yeah Kael, good job!”
Although Sensory Integration Disorder is a daily consideration for Ronda and me as parents, we generally do not give Kael any extra leniency for his behavior. We expect that with patience and consistent structured effort, Kael will be completely up to speed by the time he is in kindergarten or 1st grade, and we have been told by Kael’s Special Education teachers that this is not only possible but probable. Kael goes to school every day, even in the summer time. He meets with speech therapists twice a week at school and is getting a jump start on his education while learning to interact with other children. He has a very strict diet with very little deviation, and we try to maintain a very specific sleep schedule for him also even though he tends to wake up earlier than any parent would want to. There are some tricks to those things but I will let Ronda get into more detail of some nifty tricks we have learned along the way.
It is important for me to tell you that the concern for Kael’s special needs rarely crosses my mind. I never wonder what he would be like if he didn’t have these sensory issues. I never do, because I couldn’t possibly hope for a more wonderful, beautiful, 1st born son than my Kael Alexander.
Before I was a father it was only speculation how I might feel toward my child. Unlike mothers, who begin to bond with their baby before he/she is born, I think for dads it comes from interaction. Kael and I have a special understanding that makes it ok that we don’t get to talk to each other yet. Of course I can talk to him, and he understands some things like “pick that up” or “Kael, come here!!!” but my favorite is “Give daddy a hug” and he will wrap himself around me and then it’s “How about a kiss?” and either he gives his ‘old man’ a good smacker, or will play this little game with me that always ends with me tickling him until he gives in and I can steal a kiss from my boy.
Kael is definitely a daddy’s boy, and that is just fine with me. Sidebar: I don’t love Caleb any less, I just decided to write about Kael today, and I don’t want any goofy comments about it later.
Now, the reason for all of this blubbering on and on about my son is this; I recently had a conversation with a teenager who couldn’t understand my point of view on a particular topic because he didn’t have a good relationship with his father. I realized that it is so very sad for a young man who doesn’t have a good connection with his Dad because it is so much harder for him to grasp the idea of God’s never ending love. I know more about God’s love for me by having two children (and hopefully more to come someday) than any book or sermon could ever possibly convey. It’s hard for me to even consider that Kael isn’t perfect, even though I know that he isn’t. (Not because of the sensory thing, but because no one is perfect except Christ). And although I get frustrated with him sometimes, it would be utterly impossible for him to lose my love. That is how God feels about us! No, we aren’t perfect. No, we don’t always please Him, and sometimes we do the opposite thing from what He told us to. We may even do it on purpose. God still loves you. He loves you like I love my Son. He sees you with ‘unconditional love glasses.’ It doesn’t always make sense, but I get it.
A couple more things I have realized about fathers that I took for granted (generally speaking):
1. I make decisions based on what I believe is best for my children, not just to be strict.
2. I could care less what others think about my parenting, but I care very much what others think about my children and how they reflect upon me.