Climbing the Incan Trail for Sophie
Last night as I laid next to Sophie and looked in her blue eyes, I asked her a simple question. “Do you want more attention from Daddy. Do you want to play more with me?” She put her hand on my face and kept it there. “Yes” She said and I could have wept. She continued to touch my face and look at me till she drifted off to sleep. I felt that I haven’t lived up to my end of the bargain. I have been busy looking at my iPhone, looking at twitter, watching tv shows, needing my “rest” etc. It has been a me centric vision. The reality is she needs me with her. She needs to count on her family and her father to help her guide the uncertainty of the future as we progress through puberty and increasing difficulty in school. I decided last night that it was time to take action for her and for me as well.
I sat thinking about this interaction and what has transpired since the last time I talked to you all after Mt Whitney’s fundraising trip. In the past three years, Sophie has been making some progress and stepping back on some levels. Such is autism though. The saying goes if you have met someone with autism you have met ONE person with autism. Sophie has been developing more and more language skills, has mastered riding a bike without training wheels, can play anything she hears on the piano, and continues to wow with her creativity. On the flip side however, she is frequently more frustrated, more inclined to show her anger in many different ways, less excited to go to school, and more defiant. We have tried to help her in any number of ways from two incredibly generous grandmothers, to an amazing ABA therapist named Tara, and a delightful teacher at school. This has been a trying time. The phone calls home from school have increased and her desire to get on the bus has decreased. She has started to develop which sends a shiver of fear through our family as we weigh explaining her changing body to her in a way that she would understand. With all that we do, she needs her dad and for a long time.
This morning I took Sophie to the pool to play. The pool is her happy place and she loves it there. There were about five or six other kids staring at Sophie. Sophie was vocalizing at the time and the kids while not saying anything, said a lot. When Sophie moved to get in the hot tub part, the kids left. Heartbroken and defiant, I jumped in the pool and proceed to give Sophie an hour of uninterrupted play. She was smiling and whooping with delight as I tossed her around. She did not want to come home. She sobbed quietly on the way home with every tear like a dagger to my heart. We got home and I knew the answer. She didn’t want daddy and me time to end.
In the past three years, I have gotten increasingly out of shape. I have gained about 45 pounds and have realized that I am on the path to my own self destruction. I follow a set of genes of men that develop heart disease. My wonderful dad passed at 63. I must change, I must get a hold of my fitness, for myself, for my family, and for Sophie. I need to reengage, get my two-a-days in, and gain control of my health for my own sake and my kids. I don’t want my daughters singing the same sad song I sang or my wife lamenting that I am not around to see our kids flourish. The time to act is now.
So for Sophie, for myself, I dust off this blog. I will be as honest as possible. I encourage debate. I share because folks have told me it helps their situation. I recommit to Autism Speaks and raising money for autism awareness, local resources, and increased scientific research. So I am going to rock and roll. I am going to drop 45 pounds, put the draft kings away….(who am I kidding)…J . Get in shape and do the four day grueling Santamakay/Machu Picchu hike in April. I’d love company. I will do this for my daughter and in turn she will help me. The thing Is not just that Sophie needs me but honestly I need her more. Please support me, join me in this effort.
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