Sunday, September 02, 2007

A Dad's Perspective for Father's Day

A+ for enthusiasm Sheena.

This is a much longer post that usual for me, but I got a transcript of the radio piece by a Father from Sheena's Hey Dad Playgroup. Here 'tis:

"I'm looking forward to Father's Day. We didn't really celebrate it in my home-country when I was a kid, so it's still a bit of a novelty for me. It's not really about me of course, but it's a nice to give my kids a special occasion to feel good about their family.

From my eldest daughter, C*, I'm expecting a big hug, maybe a new painting she has made for me at kinder and, if I'm really lucky, she might help her Mum make breakfast in bed.

From my youngest daughter, S*, I'm not sure what to expect. I am used to that with S* now though, so I'll be glad for whatever I get. You see, S* has been diagnosed with "developmental delay", and despite being three years old, doesn't really understand what Father's Day is.

It's a voyage of discovery with S*.. She doesn't have an exact condition like Down Syndrome or anything like that, so we just never know what to expect from her next. In many ways she's just like any other girl her age: she's got a cheeky smile, she's an expert at hide and seek and she just loves taking the mickey out of her dad.

In fact, she's so like any other girls that it took us a while to notice that there was something different about S*. She just seemed a little late to make some of the achievements we'd seen C* make. She was slow to put weight on her legs and to learn to walk.

We were hoping that she'd start speaking by her third birthday, but that's come and gone now. Still, she's getting very close to "YES" and "OK" and she always finds a way to get her point across. She may never talk fluently, but that's something we'll cope with as we go along.

The fact that we can't know which milestones S* will pass and which ones will always be out of her reach can make things a little tough - especially for a dad. While I'm at work, my wife takes S* to all her medical appointments and talks to experts about what might be coming next.

I try to remain as involved as possible in these aspects, but sometimes I feel that I'm missing out on a lot of S*'s development. We're trying to teach her sign language at the moment and it's always a bit of a shock when I realise that my four year old daughter, C*, is much more proficient that I am.

That is why I'm really glad to part of "Hey Dad" group at Yooralla's Early Childhood Intervention Services. It's a group, designed for that dads of kids like S* to give us a chance to spend a little time with our kids, see what they're up to in playgroup and meet other dads just like us.

There I spend a bit of time with S*, doing the kind of things she normally does at her playgroup. We do a painting together, mould some play dough, play with a few toys. It doesn't sound like much but it keeps me in touch with what my beautiful daughter is up to and helps me learn how to reinforce at home what she learns in her weekly programme.

I talk to other dads, sometimes about our kids, sometimes about sport. I can see what their kids are up to and how they're growing. It's normal, its just a different kind of normal.

That's what I love about Yooralla. They don't just look after S*; they make sure the whole family unit is involved in everything. When S* was first diagnosed, it was hard for all of us. Yooralla staff took time to talk to us through what was happening and helped prepare us for dealing with how to cope when you don't know what to expect.

And most of the time, life's actually pretty good. S* is the undisputed champion of indoor soccer and loves wrestling with her sister and dad. When she laughs at something, you have to repeat it at least five times. She's not a bad dance partner either and she's clever enough to ignore Dad when it's time to be serious.

Sure, it can be tough at times. But we live in hope, we aim high and we deal with reality as it comes.

Yeah, I'm looking forward to Father's Day. Even more though, I'm looking forward to Father's Day next year. I don't know for sure, but I like to believe that by then my youngest daughter will understand what Father's Day is."


Michelle said...

what a cute pic of Sheena! Thanks for sharing that it was beautifully written!

Shelley said...

That was a great interveiw. P is a wonderful Dad but he is terrified of any dad focussed groups. He was even a bit funny about the theme for this year's buddy walk being - DADS - appreciating Dads. Sheena is just looking so gorgeous. I love that she is starting to cruise... well done.