Thursday, May 24, 2007

Dad

We were driving north on the 400 in rush hour traffic. I'd had to make an emergency trip down to see the doctor because suddenly my blood sugar went out of wack - no reason why. I didn't want to travel tomorrow without checking out what was going on. The only appointment they had was at 3:20 so there was no choice. Rush hour had to be faced if I was going to get a check up.

To make a day of it, we met with friends, went to see Shrek the Third and had a cup of tea together and caught up. They say that you need to make lemonade out of lemons and that's what we were trying to do - and it was working. But after the movie and the tea came the doctor and the long, long, long drive home. Just as we got onto the 400 I noticed a father - son team driving in the lane beside us. They were chatting, laughing and having a great time.

It's nice to see men parent. It brings out a different kind of manliness and it's rare enough to catch the eye - like a small pearl amongst a ring of diamonds, you notice it.

"There's you blog for tomorrow," said Joe, out of the blue.

"Whaaa? Whaaa?" I said as he broke into my thoughts about the visit with the doctor.

"That guy in the car with the kid, you didn't notice?"

"Notice what?"

The car was now a few lengths ahead of us and Joe sped up and went around a couple of cars and back into the center lane again. We pulled up to the car and I looked in. They were still yakking. The boy sitting next to dad had Down Syndrome and he was talking a mile a minute. Dad's face was one of concentration - he was listening. I don't know what the kid was saying but it looked like he was telling an epic story.

"Nice," I said.

"Nice," Joe responded.

It's a simple scene. But one that cheers me.

Years and years and years ago when I was a mere boy I was charged with being a behaviour consultant to families with children with disabilities. In all the years I did that job, I don't think I ever met a dad. Tons of moms, of course, but no dads. Many women told of husbands leaving them, not being able to cope with a child with a disability. Those dads that stayed grew invisible.

But things are changing. In Fort Collins at a workshop for parents. There were dads there. Not one, not two but many. They asked questions. Had concerns. Were there.

And now, on the 400, a dad is driving his son somewhere. Home? To a game? Who knows, it doesn't matter.

Have men grown up? Changed?

Has disability become less shameful?

Maybe both.

Maybe neither.

But it doesn't matter to that kid and his dad.

They were just driving.

Together.

4 comments:

Chris Page said...

When I look at my younger brother with his 6 month old son, I never cease to be mamzed. 5 years ago I'd have said he was the least likely candidate to be a Dad, let alone an involved, hands-on one.

Nicole said...

Dave, check this out:
http://www.dadsappreciatingdownsyndrome.org/default.htm

A friend of ours helped to start the group. He has actually changed careers too and is now running a transitional workshop. Awesome Dad!

And my husband falls into that category as well. We're definitely a team and he appreciates the significant change for the better Tarenne has brought into our lives.

Chris Page said...

I mean amazed....sorry!

Dawn said...

I didnt get the point of it at all! I'm that dad, I have a son with DS, so what's odd or unusual about this perfectly normal situation?

cheers, Rob