What do you get Dad for Father’s Day? Finding that perfect gift is always a daunting task. I know this to be true because I don’t even know what the perfect gift is — and I’m a Dad! In my home, my kids know special days like Christmas, birthdays, and Mother’s/Father’s Day to be synonymous with gift-giving. However, there is a greater expectation attached to those days as well. See, while my kids love giving presents, it’s my presence that they look forward to more. Our family has an insanely busy schedule. On top of the normal household tasks and chores, we have up to six therapists who have taken workshops from Autism BC, coming in and out of our home on any given day and an average of 17 appointments scheduled in a “typical” week. Sadly, my kids have already learned that I don’t have a lot of time to drop everything and focus solely on each of them individually. But on special days, I do. Therapy sessions are cancelled, chores are ignored, phones are turned off, and the day becomes a blank slate. Even though all my kids are preschool age, each with unique special needs, they understand and insist I am surrounded by my favourite things.
So that may mean buying me a special bottle of Coca-Cola to drink while playing a board game as a family, or a new pair of fun socks to be worn while playing outside or ordering takeout from my favourite restaurant to be eaten together. It’s never the item or the present that is the centre piece, it’s the fact that I’m present and using the gift in a way that includes everyone. For Ethan, often special days like this quickly become overwhelming, and he panics because he doesn’t want to miss out on anything. It’s in those moments that my presence means the most to him. As I console him and ground him from autistic sensory overload, he will often fall asleep on my chest as if to ensure I don’t leave — that I stay present. It’s because of moments like that I’ve learned how important being present for my kids truly is, and embracing that is far more meaningful than any Father’s Day present I may receive.
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