Friday, June 15, 2012

Father's Day, with Autism: Rethinking the Cool Dad

In honor of Father's Day, a post from The New York Times' Motherlode parenting blog by Joel Yanofsky, a writer in Montreal, Canada. His latest book is Bad Animals: A Father’s Accidental Education in Autism. 

The cover story in the June issue of Wired magazine, celebrating geek dads, is ruining my Father’s Day. It’s got me thinking: should I be doing more?
Like building a hovercraft, dissecting a baseball, making gummy worms glow or instilling “an empowering worldview” in my child. These are just a few of the activities suggested in Wired’s “guide to being the coolest father on the planet.”
“Breathe,” my wife, Cynthia, says when I ask her what “an empowering worldview” might be. “Relax and breathe.”
This is old advice. In fact, the first time I failed to follow it was almost 14 years ago. Cynthia was pregnant with our son Jonah when I began hyperventilating, consumed with worry, thinking of all the things I’d need to learn to do for the child’s sake – ice skating? Break-dancing?
Now, there’s a different reason the do-it-yourself smugness of Wired is getting to me. Jonah has autism and I don’t have to go any farther than the basement storage closet to survey all the projects we’ve started and abandoned, often after only a day or two.

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