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Raising little Westies, and life as parent of a special needs son
In 2001, the eve of my birthday changed.
For the rest of my life, the moments prior to the clock ticking over in Australia to my birthday became synonymous with the start of the “War on Terror.”
I remember, being awake, waiting for it to “officially” become my birthday. I forget what had been on the TV, but whatever it was, became the News, showing that an aircraft had just flown into some building in New York City.
While the commentators commence debating how an “accident” like this may occur, with the camera still focussed on the first building as it steadily commences burning, the second plane flew into the second building – just after midnight, my local time, on what had just become my 29th birthday.
Since that day, many people have paid the “ultimate price” putting their body on the line for their country and I hope for their personal beliefs. I hope the families of each of them can own September 11 as a day of remembrance.
Tomorrow, I will be 40. I’m still digesting that, I will think more on this issue over the next 24 hours.
Crack the champaign, I’ve hit the Hundred Club of blogging.
¶ on a totally seperate note, my wife and I are at a point where we would be delighted to hear our youngest swearing, if only he would talk.
At what age should we be how worried about our son pretty much being non-vocal?
SM, if anyone sensibly wants to contact me on this please pass along my details to them.
Posted by: ImaWestie on April 26, 2008 9:36 PM
So as early as April of 2008 – four years ago, just before his third birthday – I was already concerned about my son’s development.
I think my fully bogan alter-ego appeared as I had already had about enough of being concerned about who I was, where I worked, and who my kids are, when I was looking to talk about a range of topics online.
Since that first appearance, I’ve sprouted up on News Limiteds comments section, the Whirlpool technology forum, on a range of games websites, and continued to appear on the Sydney Morning Herald website from time to time.
I also wandered along to the Autism United ning.com community, where I learned so much, and was inspired to record my thoughts, experience and emotions onto blog format. Some of what I wanted to write didn’t fit in amost such a well defined community, so here I came to WordPress.
That puzzle there remains extremely relevant. Tonight, with our dinner, my wife and I celebrated as we used bribery to tempt our youngest son with yoghurt, to get him to eat one (!) pea and one tiny carrot stick. Absolutely smothered in red, tangy, sugery, terrible…. tomato sauce.
But it was a win.
Four and a quarter years down the track, Westie and Mrs Westy are continuing our adventure, hoping we continue to challenge all three of our children, learn more than just what we have to, and expand not just our own horizons but the horizons of our children, too.
Hope to hear more from all of you who like to drop in and “like” my posts without leaving more to let me know what you think. If you have something to add to my writing, to what I know about Autism, being a father or husband, a coach to a junior AFL team, a cyclist or an IT Professional. I’d love to hear it. Because while I might be at my 100th post, that puzzle is far from complete.
My cycling is now back on track, because I’ve done it so many times in a row – once!
What that means is, I need to come up with something to turn a concept into a repeated event, into a routine. Because our life might be made interesting by one-off events, but it is shaped by our routines, and I am aiming to be fitter on my 40th birthday than I was on my 39th (ooh, scary).
How will I achieve this?
A common means of effecting human behavior can be summarised with the word “bribery.”
How can I bribe myself? At this stage I’ve made one choice: when I commute to and from work by bike 30 times, I will get myself a new pair of boots.
This seems like it will be a reasonable thing, because it will let me leave one pair of boots at the office so I can have nice shoes at work when I ride my bike to get there. It will also mean by the time I spend the money to do this, riding my bike will become if not a habit, at least a routine. It will also take me at least ten weeks to achieve this goal.
Success is all in the definition.
So far, I’ve succeeded in going from “one day” to “day one“.
97th anniversary of 1915 landing
I’m in Canberra. It’s a crisp start, with a clear starry sky. It’s fantastic, that means it’s dry, and I’ve had enough wet dawn services the last few years.
My aunty is kind enough to drop me to a bus. The first two buses are full well before I can get on board, great that so many Canberrans and visitors are motivated to say thanks and show respect for the sacrifices made by so many.
I start listening to the pop trash on the radio as some very cold people around me say not much – small jokes, a brief exchange about two-up games later in the day – and another bus arrives. This one’s empty and I’m straight on down the back of an Action bendy bus. I watch a guy younger than me dressed in a suit walk past with a rack of medals on his breast to make any crusty digger give pause. Along with everyone else joining in to say thanks, an older couple sit down as I move seats to make way for a young boy and his grandfather. Within a few moments these two guys recognise each other and they are chatting about their past ANZAC days in France, Belgium, and tours of battlefields in Europe. Other than these two guys the bus is quiet in the predawn chill. We drive past increasing numbers of cars parked by the roadside, and the trickle of people becomes a stream before the bus stops. More to follow…
I arrive with the stream of others off the buses, the parade ground is maybe 50 deep, the stands are full, so I go back the way I have come to stand on the hill. From the flagpoles i strand in the crowd looking down at the massed people, filling the parade square, in front of the podium which is lit not brightly, but… Enough to tell the darkness it is not welcome. The flags stand proud as the crowd continues to build, and shiver, waiting (how much harder would it have been to wait in the damp pre-dawn packed in with mates, wondering which you would see ever again? We can’t complain for our momentary discomfort.)
More to follow….
5.19. My clock must be wrong, as the voice of the catafalque party commander silences the crowd – he brings his guard to attention, moments later the snare can be heard accompanying as the slow march into position. As the rattle of the snare synchronises the outwards turn, the cockatoos take to the sky… Complaining about the pre-dawn rouse from their roost.
The honour guard bow their heads as the flags remind us yes it is windy. A hush settles… Then a voice on the PA tells us all there’s 5 minutes to go, and the solemn mood is half tossed aside – an explanation, unrequested, at a moment when mystery would have extended the moment.
More to follow….
The service proceeds, in the customary sequence; only the dignitaries change but the theme of what they have to say is now as laid down in tradition as the emu plume in the slouch hat of the tank trooper, harking back to the earlier days of the nation. We stand in silence, joining in for those brief few moments we can – showing how every year we become even more distant from a single god, a single faith and a single church as the numbers joining in for Abide With Me or the other hymns gets smaller each year. The snare rings loudly, and the catafalque party abandon their watch over the memorial, marching with paces ringing out as the three ranks mount then ascend the stairs before turning left across the façade of the memorial.
I think, after my early rise, bus ride, and shivering in the darkness, I have found two moments to hold onto: the call of the cockatoos, and the ringing out of those boots as the guard climbed those stairs, with the eyes of all assembled watching on.
We were all united, there to say, thank you.
Lest we forget.
It has taken me a day to come up with something sensible to say.
In 1996, the day after Australia Day (which back then was “just another public holiday” not “cause for celebration”), Rebecca and I tied the knot in a small country church in a town on the North Coast of New South Wales.
For a while there was some frustration that my whole family wasn’t there. It would be great if I could say that frustration is behind me, but to be honest, one of the lasting memories of that day is my brother not being there – despite having said he would be.
What a shame that such a negative thought would be at the front of my recollection of such an important day!
It didn’t overwhelm my emotions on the day, or the happiness I felt after being formally announced married and leaving the church, even, how I felt after not knowing what to say when I made my speech at the reception.
Since that day, my love for Rebecca has only grown. It has been tested. We have had time apart due to the challenges of life, which saw me finish my time with the Army Reserve. Experience has, and continues to, teach us both what each of us will accept, what each of us deserves.
She has followed me from one end of the state to the other, and then, despite being “country people”, to an inner city suburb of the nation’s largest city. And from there, to the “disadvantaged” western suburbs – where we now own a fibro shack in “the Druitt”.
We have been blessed with three children, and in return been confronted with the challenge of our youngest son having autism. Together, we’re pulling ourselves, and all of our children, through this as well.
The challenges have tested us. But we are together and together we will rise over the challenges and our love will help us overcome whatever confronts us.
Do I want to be in a stronger place for our 20th? Hell yes. But together we can be.