What Dad Needs to Hear

June 14, 2012

By Dan Coulter

 I’ve written a lot about my son, Drew, who has Asperger Syndrome.  For this Father’s Day, I’m going to talk about his neurotypical sister, Jessie. 

When you think about what you’ll do for your dad this year, you might consider a certificate that Jessie gave me years ago.   It hangs on the wall of my office.

Picture a sheet of paper with a blue background, behind glass in a simple black frame.  The headline, in a fun type face, reads, “5 Reasons I Wouldn’t Want Any Other Daddy.”

I’ll share the certificate’s text, with my explanations in parentheses.

  • What other Dad believes that “A duck!” is a perfectly acceptable answer to pretty much any question?   (There was this family Pictionary session where no one could guess that the squiggle I drew was supposed to be a duck.  “A duck” became my go-to comic response when I was at a loss for words.)

  • Yeah, We got that. (I was a boy scout and take the motto “Be Prepared” to Asperger lengths.  I anticipate needs and keep things in stock.  So when Jessie or Drew was doing a project and asked…”Do we have any…?"  I could usually make the needed supplies or tools appear in a matter of minutes.)

  • People don’t really want to talk to me after parties, they just want to tell me how funny my dad is…..hmmmmm… (I have always enjoyed entertaining kids.  When my wife, Julie, and I drew Nursery duty for toddlers at church, I got to put on elaborate puppet shows using the toddler’s names.)

  • Okay, when you start to get each other the same presents for holidays, that’s saying something.  (Jessie and I have similar tastes -– and we did get each other exactly the same present one year.) 

And reason #5….drumroll please….

Cause he’s just so fun, sharp, helpful, peculiar, phantasmagoric, patient, quick, opinionated, linguistically gifted, smart, diligent with a hint of lackadaisicalness, and he’s MY Daddy.  (Okay, there’s no way I deserve all these accolades, but am I going to protest?)

As you plan recognition for Dad this year, I urge you to think as much about what you write or say to him as you do about physical gifts.  Words can touch him like nothing else.

I’ve never been a perfect dad.  But Jessie’s words make me want to live up to the image my daughter saw through middle school eyes. If your dad has difficulty expressing feelings, you may be able to say things you both feel that would catch in his throat. 

How do I know this?  Um..…A duck!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Dan Coulter’s first 70 articles can be found in his book, “Life in the Asperger Lane.”  You can find additional articles on his website: coultervideo.com.

Copyright 2012 Dan Coulter     All Rights Reserved     Used by Permission

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