The nice thing about having your own blog is that you get to declare things with no oversight committee.  So, today I am declaring my father – 2012 Flappiness Is Autism Grandparent of the Year.  

Being the grandparent of a child with autism can’t be easy.  On one hand, you are worried about your grandchild.  On the other, you are worried about your own child – the mom or dad.  You want to help, but you don’t want to interfere.  Or maybe you do — in which case you will end up on an altogether different kind of post.   😉  

My dad is awesome.  And, since he never toots his own horn, I’m going to do that for him.  So, Dear Reader, please allow me to share with you the eight reasons why he wins:

1.  He has never – not even once – unburdened himself on us about his own fears or grief.  He is wise enough to understand that we have all we can handle of our own.  I am sure he worries, because I know he loves his grandson.  But he has rightly concluded those feelings are best shared with others.

2.  He does not presume to tell us what we should be doing with regard to raising, educating, or providing treatment/therapy for our son.  He listens to me discuss it — at length – but just nods and says something to the effect of “Alright.  That makes sense.  So where do we start?”  If I ask his opinion, he’ll share it.  But, otherwise, he merely supports what decision we have made.  I haven’t asked him why he is so good about this, but I suspect it is because he trusts me to have researched a topic to death before arriving at a decision and that he thinks I have good judgment.  I really appreciate that.  And, because of that, I seek his counsel more often.

3.  He doesn’t get upset when we inadvertently forget something.  He knows our days are busy and our stresses many.  He knows that therapy and specialists cost a lot of money.  And he doesn’t get the least bit upset when we find it necessary to do a “just buy gifts for the kids” kind of Christmas.  He’ll tell you that us forgetting things just buys him another “get out of jail free card” for when he forgets something.  But, humor aside, he doesn’t sweat the small stuff or attempt to test our affections.

4.  He stays in the here and now.  Because he knows it is too early for predictions, he doesn’t ask for them.  He doesn’t pester us with “Well, does the therapist think he will talk one day?” or “When is he going to ______?”  These types of questions not only cannot be answered at this time, they also cause us a great deal of anxiety.  I’m sure he wonders as well, but he doesn’t burden us with it.

5.  He doesn’t bat an eye at the disaster area that is our home.  Not even once.  My dad has seen the crumb devastation our little human wood chipper wreaks when eating, his penchant for writing on walls, and his love for testing the properties of gravity with all living room objects.  So my dad just clears a spot and settles in for the visit.

6.  He doesn’t place guilt on us for the things we choose to decline – like parades, chaotic birthday parties, or piano recitals.  He understands that there are some things we just don’t want to do with Callum and that there are some things Callum just doesn’t want to do period.

7.  He has never attempted to deny there was a problem.  Even from the beginning – when others were saying, “He’ll be fine” and “He’s just a boy”,  he never silenced my fears by suggesting that nothing was amiss.  As nice as it is to be reassured everything is okay, it doesn’t silence your intuition.  My dad is great about acknowledging a problem without carrying on as if the sky is falling. People like that keep you grounded.

8.  He truly enjoys his grandson.  When he visits, he delights in the child Callum is right now – rather than adopting The Look of Tragedy every time he sees him.  It’s important for a child to not only be loved, but to be liked just as he is.   And, because he accepts my son for the wonderful little person he already is – rather than waiting to see who he will become – he is able to enjoy his uniqueness as well.  When Callum does something remarkable – something that can be attributed to autistic traits – he gets a kick out of it.  And although, like me, he worries about him, he also finds him fascinating.  That’s unconditional love, with the stress on — unconditional.  🙂

P.S.  And one more fabulous thing about my dad.  He subscribes to my blog and reads me every day!

So, who do you nominate for Autism Grandparent of the Year and why?

21 responses »

  1. Megan Wall says:

    Leigh–I did not know your Dad as a “Grandpa” and now I do–thanks for sharing this with me. Just one more clear description of what a calm, smart, caring, rational man your Dad was (just in yet another context). We are all so fortunate to have known him and we will remember him forever. [And now I will also always think of this description of how he was as a Grandfather forever–I am so glad for this additional story/memory from your (and your son’s) perspective.] You are such a clear descriptive writer! So glad you sent this to me. Hugs–Megan & Bryan

  2. goccediacqua says:

    I am so sorry you have lost your Dad when you still needed him so much.
    He was a great Dad, and a great Grandad.

  3. Cyn says:

    You are so lucky to have such a wonderfully supportive Dad and Grandpa for the kids. My Dad until recently was like that for my family. Its really noticeable when the other side of the family is less so.

  4. Suzanne says:

    Your Dad sounds a lot like my mum, (who is my nominee)…and the polar opposite of my MIL, the queen of The Look Of Tragedy. Unconditional love is the antidote to so much of life’s poison, isn’t it?

  5. Tina says:

    Yay for him!

  6. Jessica says:

    This is wonderful! Fits my Mother In Law pretty closely. Now how do I delicately float this towards my mom who does not follow the above numbers (with exception to 5 and 8)?? THAT is my question!!

  7. HFLifeMom says:

    Love your dad! #1 and 2 are so important and can be the hardest thing about telling your parents – worrying about them worrying about you, and the advice that dismisses the exhaustive research and discussions we have had with other parents, drs, therapists etc. I nominate him too!

  8. Kathy says:

    What wonderful praise for your dad. You have also described my dad — we are both so lucky to have them in our lives and our kids’ lives. HOWEVER, don’t get me started on my father-in-law, who is (of all things) a developmental pediatrician. Thank goodness my son has one grandpa who knows how to be grandpa, because my father-in-law is INCAPABLE of turning off doctor mode. I am reluctant to consult him on anything, because he has been a non-stop fountain of diagnoses, warnings, questions, challenges, and disagreements since my son’s birth (he’s now 10). He fails to understand that my son already has doctors — but he needs grandpas. Too bad only my dad gets that.

  9. Ann says:

    Knowing your dad and the person he is I have to agree with Joanna. Callum is blessed to have you both.

  10. Ros jay says:

    Wow, he sounds like an awesome dad and grandad! You are very lucky to have him, I wish more people could be like him and learn from his example. Treasure him always 🙂

  11. Lynne Pardi says:

    I was thinking the same way that previous commentator thought– that you obviously “take after” your Dad in many ways!! He sounds like such a wise, understanding, and sensitive man. I’m so glad that you and your family have him! My own mother & Dad were pretty special as well– I was lucky in that too!

  12. And another superb post! 🙂 Your Dad sounds like a great person. Everyone should be taking “awesome” lessons from him. But more than that, you just did a great job of highlighting how people can be wonderfully involved and accepting, while still helping.

  13. Jane Munck says:

    My Brother once became a victim of a case of some kind of assault mostly for the reason that my parents are not perfect. But the offender was even worse. Someone who thought themselves as having good intentions on the behalf of God became obsessed with interfering in my brothers life, because of what she felt was wrong. he looked so smart and normal she couldnt understand why he would not develop. She blamed the parents and began to manipulate her way through lies to everyone in public dealing with our case. She wanted to save him and she thought to be doing just that. Never minding that having several children at home as a caretaker was illegal procedure and having more than one property not accounted for, illegally owned. She had had previous convictions against her which had turned to newspapers and had a religious sect. My brother was behaving more quietly as well as introvert in the time where she was anound but more introvert and increasingly unhappy when he had to stay with them. My parents had a suspicion she did not brush his teeth, my dad was one of the only ones capable of brushing his teeth. He developed bad teeth. I guess they claimed to give him stability but at the same time it rather looked as if they would abandon procedures like teeth brushing so she could use that as argument for having him. She earned money on having more children as a caretaker than was allowed.

  14. Pam says:

    Your Dad sounds EXACTLY like my husband!!!!!! My husband’s love for our Grandson is indeed unique.

  15. Jim Reeve says:

    I’d love to nominate my mom for granparent of the year, but it’s hard for her to deal with Jacob sometimes. My mom is almost 70 and because Jacob is so intense, she often withdraws when it comes to dealing with him. I don’t blame her though, because sometimes Jacob’s intensity is too much for me too.

  16. Robin says:

    I wish I could give your dad a big hug! He sounds absolutely awesome. What a blessing for Callum and for you. :0)

  17. May says:

    Well, after that post, I have to say that I nominate your dad too! That reads like list of how to do it right, in my book. I wish every grandparent could read it, understand it, live it. Treasure that man, he’s golden. 🙂

  18. spymummy says:

    Your dad sounds alot like my dad. My mum is really good too but she is a teacher’s aide who gets sent to all the ASD workshops for school so she has a lot more advice than dad. He just takes it as it comes. Gotta love the Grandads.. Yay

  19. Joanna says:

    Honestly, I have got to start reading your blog BEFORE I do my makeup in the morning, lol. Just as Callum is blessed to have you as his mom, you are blessed to have your dad as, well, your dad. Clearly the apple does not all far from the tree 🙂

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