The greatest gift a woman can give a man is a child; surely there can be no greater gift. I remember so well the birth of my son, almost sixteen years ago; remember the anticipation, the longing to hold that tiny, bundle of joy. I remember trying my best to comfort his mother, remember her squeezing my hand with brute strength; I almost feared her fingers would sink through flesh and bone. My son was born on May 1st, 1996. He was a tiny, little thing, pinkish red and somewhat like Freddy Krueger to look at. Yet he was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I wasn’t allowed to hold him straight away of course, but I was able to gaze down on him. Tears of joy crossed my cheek and I knew that from that moment onward, my life would never be the same again. His name is Mick and he is the light of my life. In the year 2000, his Mother and I broke up. Mick moved home with me. Not many men get to see their children grow up as I did, unless of course, they remain married. I got to play with my son, to wipe his tears when he fell over, got to take him to kindergarten, got to watch him grow, to begin school. I got to help him with homework. He’s a bright kid, good at school. He hands his homework in on time, does as he is told, is kind and respectful toward others…is wonderful. I’ve been lucky. You think I’m lucky to have been able to see my son grow up? Well, I have been. There’s more to it than that though.
I work at a school for kids with special needs; meet special needs kids and parents of special needs kids, pretty much every day. I love my job and I love these kids. Some of them have Asperger’s Syndrome; some have ADD or ADHD, others are autistic. The list goes on. These kids struggle day in and day out for acceptance, struggle with numbers, letters, learning to tell the time, learning to get by in a world where many see them as far too different to be normal. They are different, of course they are different. They are unique, but then so are you and I. Many of these wonderful, unique kids lack social skills and have been ostracized because of it. The parents of special needs kids don’t have it easy either. They knew something was wrong far before their child was diagnosed. They don’t love their kids less; they love their kids as much, if not more than some other parents might. They understand what these kids have been through, are going through and will carry on going through. If my son had been a special needs kid, I wouldn’t love him less, if he couldn’t read, write or tell the time, I wouldn’t feel ashamed of him. I would love him unconditionally. Of course, knowing he can read, write and tell the time, knowing he has social skills, friends and a good education that will lead him to a good job in the future, is great news for me. But it’s not the most important thing. The most important thing is that I love my son no matter what.
I think what upsets me the most though, is the way these kids are treated, not only by other kids, but by adults as well. They didn’t ask to have their lives turned upside down, didn’t ask to be frowned upon because they don’t fit into some ‘standard’ norm. They didn’t ask for any of this. Sometimes I take long walks with my students, see how people look at them. I hate that! When other kids do it, it’s bad enough, but when adults do it…well, that just rocks my boat! There is no greater gift than the gift of a child and without children, there will be no human life. My heart goes out to all these wonderful, unique kids all over the world and to their parents, who love them without condition, no matter what.
Have a good day, now Gavin