I thought of this the other day and felt like I wanted to put it down. The memory came to me after my youngest smiled at me. It was that particular type of smile – not just happy, but happy to see you, happy to be doing whatever he was doing, just happy to be.
And when I saw this smile I felt something only a parent can feel, and every parent would have difficulty describing. It’s just a pure feeling, made entirely of love, affection and, as strange as it might sound, a desire to impress – impress Daddy with his nothing more than his happiness.There are these things called weighted vests. Essentially, they are like those lead vests they put on you at the dentist when they take x-rays, but far less heavy and with 100% less lead. When used, they can have a calming effect on people – similar to a hug. They remind me of the Zaky for babies.
Well, when my eldest started school at Access in the 3 year-old class, they mentioned that they employ the weighted vests from time-to-time. I thought nothing of it, but one day I walked into the classroom to pick my son up from school, and there he was, making a craft with his friends, wearing a weighted vest. You must understand that, only three months after his HFA diagnosis, we were blessed to find a spot for him at the school. And he thrived, and continues to thrive, where he would just fall through the cracks elsewhere, I’m sure.
So I enter the classroom, and I see him there, and he smiles at me. And it’s that smile. He is happy, he is content, and he is excited to show Daddy that he is all of these things. He wants Daddy to be impressed with him, with his craft, his friends, his classroom.
And I am.
I am incredibly impressed and happy and melancholy and proud. Mostly proud. I am extraordinarily proud of my sons. Heaven knows I spend far too much time being frustrated and angry at them for simply not understanding what I’m trying to tell them, or not listening, or just being destructive, stubborn and gruff… in short, boys.
To this day, and many, many times, I see that face in both sons. But I remember distinctly that one time – and the shades of the same face time and again – and can’t help but smile myself.
And maybe cry a little.