Magic of our youth
Our childhood, a blessing
As I look at my son and see him growing and developing as his own person I find myself trying to think back to the days when I was a kid and I wish I could sometimes have those days back so I can relate to my son and his views and his feelings. It is different as my son is autistic but I can relate in certain ways due to my shyness as a kid. I still think of my son as a baby but realize he is only 2 years away from being a teenager and all I can remember as a teenager was feeling confused and having lots of crushes on the pretty girls but not saying a word to them due to my shyness. I also went through the normal stages a teenager typically goes through of feeling awkward, self conscious and love sick. I was an above average student in school and I enjoyed participating in sports, especially baseball.
For me I found that although I was shy I managed ok in school and had a fair amount of friends. It is very important to associate with others and develop meaningful friendships along the way. That is one of the major differences I see with my son as he's growing and with me throughout my childhood. I did have friends who I hung with outside of school and I would ride my bicycle freely on my own to visit friends. With my son it is not as simple as that because we live in different times and we do not encourage our son to ride on his own because of our concerns for his safety and due to his autism. As a result I do sense a bit of frustration from our son which I can understand. I want my son to be somewhat independent but we also have to make sure he is always safe. Since my son is dealing with disabilities including epilepsy it is much harder to allow him those same freedoms I experienced as a kid. I feel for my son and sometimes am conflicted because I would love to see him able to have some of those same freedoms I was accustomed to at his age.
I find being a father that I do tend to be a bit overprotective and see my wife also being so. I feel this is normal given our son's situation but I do realize at some point there will have to be some give and take and some letting go as our son grows throughout his teenage years. We want him to develop normally and have the same experiences that kids his age normally have. No one said it would be easy raising a child and when you find that your child has special needs it makes it all the more challenging. Despite the challenges it is an absolute joy having time with my son and doing things that fathers and sons do. If I could have one wish in my life it would be to see my son develop and have many friendships in his life. I know how important it is to feel accepted and to have common interests with peers.
My son has a love of water and he is like a duck in the pond once he goes in the pool. He can literally stay in the water for hours at a time until his lips turn purple and his fingers begin to prune. I find I have to ask him to come out as he won't on his own. He just feels very comfortable and happy in the swimming pool. I am happy when he is and so I will allow him his time in the pool knowing that he is having a great time. Actually I love spending time with him in the pool but find I can not stay in as long as he can. I want to encourage him to swim and possibly find an interest in swimming the lanes when he feels confident to do so after having some swimming lessons.
I realize our childhood only happens once in our lifetime and we want our son to have a fun and enjoyable childhood full of happy memories and many friends. It is a very special time and as a child grows they need lots of nurturing, encouragement, fun experiences, a feeling of belonging, and lots of talk time. The teenage years are probably the most challenging years because children start to become young adults with lots of curiosity and lots of questions. As parents we have to always be ready to answer our children's questions and give them proper and sound advice. We have to teach them to respect one another and to learn to accept each other for who they are. I want my son to never feel different from others and I want him to know that he has so many talents and abilities that will help him as he grows and he should always take those abilities very seriously and make them his strength so he can do anything in life that he wishes. I was strong in mathematics when I was a kid and all throughout my schooling and I see my son with those same strengths so I always encourage him to excel in mathematics and to dream big We have to dream for that is what makes us reach to be the best we can.
It seems that our childhood unfolds slowly but before you know it you are a teenager and fast forward it a few more years and you are now graduating from high school and planning for your future which certainly requires further education. I am in no rush to see my son yet graduate but realize that time will be here before we know it. I am amazed how fast the time goes by and I am now measuring the years with each passing year in my son's life. I still remember seeing my wife cradling our son in her arms as a new born and now we see him as nearing teenage-hood. Life is truly a gift when you get to share it with a child. They keep you young, focused and very happy. Sure there are the worries and the arguments but that is par for the course in raising children. We live for our children and always want to see them happy and are hoping that they have a better life than we have.
My most favorite life experience is obviously the birth of our son and that will always be my most proudest moment and when I see my son graduate from college years from now that will be the icing on the cake! I thank my wife and son for being the biggest part of my life and the most meaningful part. I am truly blessed and can say I have a wonderful life and I am the luckiest man on the face of the earth as said by three of my most favorite stars: Jimmy Stewart, Lou Gehrig and Gary Cooper.
I thank God everyday for my good fortune.
Edward D. Iannielli III