Something I have never shared with all of you is my life long love of animals. When I was a kid, I was always outside exploring nature. My family went camping on a regular basis and I would just marvel at all of the amazing animals I would encounter along the way. I was always finding and trying to care for injured animals, birds mostly. I was always fascinated my birds, they were the picture of freedom for me. They could go anywhere they desired and their ability to take flight and soar into the clouds was something I was envious of.
When I became a father, I wanted my kids to see the wonder that this nature. Over the years, I have forgotten much of what I learned as a child because I’m so wrapped up in the day to day struggles associated with not only raising a family but raising a family with more then our fair share of challenges.
Despite my frequent distractions, I have made a conscious decision to seize every opportunity to teach my kids important life lessons. Sometimes I share these in post titled Everyday Lessons. Basically, I try to use everyday type things and turn them into a chance to teach my kids something I believe to be important. My goal has always been to prepare them for life in the world around us. These lessons have included things like, rebuilding a computer, repairs around the house, treating people the way we would like to be treated to ourselves and managing their money. These a few examples of things that can become invaluable skills for them to utilize in the future.
However, to be completely honest, it’s a way I have found to spend time with my boys while still managing to get some of the things done that I must get done. As overwhelmed as I am with everything, I love spending time with my boys, in fact it’s my most favorite thing to do. Even when Lizze and I are in desperate need of a break from the demand of raising 3 boys on the spectrum, I miss them terribly when they are gone and I’m always excited when I see them again. I know that may sound a bit counter intuitive but I feel more relaxed when they are in my sight.
Anyway, one of the most important thing I try to teach my kids is that life is so much bigger then just them. I want them to understand that the world doesn’t revolve around them and that they each play an important role in helping to shape everyone’s future. I want them to learn compassion and reach out to those in need. Some of these things may seem difficult for a special needs child to do, however, despite their challenges, they each have very special gifts or talents they can share with the world in their own unique way. I want them know that they can make a difference in the lives of people around them.
I think it goes without saying that this can be a bit on the challenging side of things for me as an imperfect father to teach them. Despite my many imperfections, I try to find ways to show them how they can impact the world around them in a positive way.
So recently I had an opportunity to teach them one of these important life lessons.
I was on my way to one of our many appointments last week. Actually, the day before Emmett was to have surgery. As I was driving down the road, I caught something out of the corner of my eye. I knew what it was but I also knew that I had to be somewhere very soon. So I kept driving, despite my instincts to the contrary. However, I realized that I needed to turn around because at that moment in time what I should have done was more important than what I was currently doing. So I turned around and headed back.
I pulled over and parked the car a few minutes later. I got out and walked over to the side of the road. Sitting there, helpless, was what I saw out of the corner of my eye as I was driving by on my way to the important I was now going to be late for. I bent down and slowly scooped up a female Cardinal that was sitting in the road, unable to move. I was amazed and grateful that she hadn’t already been run over by traffic. I put her in my van and drove home. Elliott helped to make her comfortable and then I had to return to my original mission of making it to a meeting.
When I got home the boys and I looked the bird over to make sure there were no obvious injuries that needed to be cleaned. I think this was the first time the boys had seen a bird up close and personal.
They were very excited but I explained that this little bird was very scared and likely in pain so we had to use quiet voices and gentle touches. We talked about what was wrong with it and I answered their questions as best I could. We made the bird comfortable and made sure it had food and water in the box. We then covered the box up and placed it in a quiet corner of the house. I explained that by covering the box up and keeping it out of the light , that it would help the bird to relax and feel safer.
The following day we had Emmett’s surgery first thing in the morning. Gavin and Elliott had spent the night at Grandmas cause we had to be at the hospital early. Before they left for their grandparents, I promised the boys that I would make sure the bird got the help in needed to get better and that they shouldn’t worry about her because she was going to be just fine. Elliott in particular, had grown quite fond of this little bird and was still very concerned. I reassured him that I would take care of it and that was really all I could do.
Before we left for Emmett’s surgery I made sure she had food and water because I wouldn’t be home until late afternoon.
After Emmett’s surgery was over and he was in recovery, I ended up coming home because Lizze was staying overnight with Emmett and only one of us could be there. When I got home, I began making phone calls to try and locate a place to take the bird for help. I found the local wildlife center was still open and so I drove out there and delivered the bird into their very capable hands.
I really was happy that we were able to do this. I want my kids to respect life, no matter how insignificant that life may seem. I want them to understand that they can make a difference, even in the life of a bird. They need to know that life is precious regardless of it’s size.
I’m so proud of them because they helped to save a life and demonstrated great compassion. What more could I ask for….