“Not much dude, why are you whispering?” I whispered back.
In a guilty voice, the 35-year old father explained to me that he was calling from a closet. He was hiding from his five-year-old son, who was hunting for his favorite Sesame Street DVD.
His son, on the autism spectrum, had a tendency to play the same small video segment over…and over…and over…and…over…and over.
I think some of you know what I’m talking about.
“Joey drives me crazy playing that darn Sesame Street song a thousand times a day! I need some quiet time.” His voice sounded guilty.
I reassured him that I had had similar feelings at times too. I remembered standing in the middle of the bedroom watching a tantrum from my son that had reached biblical proportions and wondering what it would be like to move to Australia.
Why Australia? Because it was the farthest place away I could think of.
Parenting a child with special needs is like this sometimes. It’s a mixture of the happiest moments of your life mixed with ones that make you want to run from the room screaming.
“How many times do I have to repeat myself?”
“When is he ever going to stop that?”
“Why can’t he simply do something more age appropriate?”
If you’ve ever had thoughts like these, you’re not alone.
I think back to a moment I had one night tucking my son Jacob into bed. He’s on the severe end of the autism spectrum and isn’t inclined to spontaneously comment about anything…at all.
Every single night for months as part of his bedtime routine I had been telling him, “Jesus loves you, Jacob.”
He’d look away, seemingly more interested in the clock on the wall. It appeared that my words fell on deaf ears.
Night after night I would remind him, “Jesus loves you, Jacob” hoping for some type of response. Something. Anything.
Then finally one night it happened.
I bent over to tuck him in and kissed him on the forehead. But before I could open my mouth he smiled, looked at me, and slowly said,
I reflect on that moment often. It’s one of my parenting moments that I treasure and have stored in my heart.
There were so many times as a Christ-centered dad I felt like a complete failure, like what I did didn’t matter.
For me, those three words of his, “Jesus loves Jacob,” was a sign of hope.
Maybe I was making a difference even when it didn’t feel like it.
It reminded me that what I do today matters.
Truth: running off to Australia might feel like a good idea sometimes, but if you hang in there, hold tight to God’s hand and stick with it, there’s hope in what you do today.
Weary parent, here’s my verse for you. Post it to a mirror. Read it once every morning and once every night:
“Let’s not get tired of doing what is good, for at the right time we will reap a harvest—if we do not give up.” (Gal.6:9)