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Dear Jeremy,

Thank you.  Thank you for being who you are.  Thank you for doing what you did.  Partying, drinking and taking drugs with your son is one thing, but this took it to a whole new level.  Blocking off a residential street so your drunk son could drag race in a high performance car?  Brilliant!  So soon after we lost Paul Walker in a fiery car accident?  Genius!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  And what’s the harm, right?  No one got hurt.  No one died…yet.

Because of you, the rest of us dads, those of us who struggle every day, wondering if we are doing a decent job by our kids, can look at each other and nod.  We can take heart, knowing that we are trying to be parents, not friends, to our kids.  We can find comfort in knowing, “at least we’re not that guy.”

So thank you, Jeremy.  Thank you.

Sincerely,

Luau

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Dear Brother,

We are not wired for this.  Our problem solving skills do not match up well with this unexpected challenge that has been unexpectedly thrust upon us.

What do you mean it can’t be fixed? 

What do you mean there is no cure?

I know exactly how you feel.  Even though my head knows better, my heart still wants to fix it…fix her, just like I know you want to fix him.

It is what we do as men – we fix things.  If something is broken, we fix it.  If we can’t fix it, we probably know someone who knows someone who can.  Flat tire, broken hose, leaky pipe?  No problem, pass the tools.  If it’s something bigger?  Pass the phone, I know a guy…

***

Dear Brother,

This is different.  Our kids aren’t machines.  It took me some time to come to the realization that our kids aren’t broken; they are simply different.  Can that difference make life harder?  Yeah, right now it can; but difference, whether it be race, gender, orientation, height, weight or autism can do that.

But different doesn’t mean bad.

***

Dear Brother,

Don’t be afraid of labels.  It took me time to realize that when Brooke received her autism diagnosis, she was still the same girl she was before the doctor said, “autism”.  The label doesn’t change our kids dear brother.  In fact, the label empowers them…empowers us.  The label gives us a powerful tool in helping our kids get the services they need.  The label can turn resentment of strangers into compassion, helping them understand that when our kids have public meltdowns, it’s not because they are bratty or that we are bad parents, but rather because the environment has overwhelmed our kids’ capacity to cope.  The label is not about pigeon holing our kids…it’s about setting them free.

***

Dear Brother,

It takes time for us to get to the place where our kids’ mothers are.  Truthfully, we will never occupy the same space.  We are not wired the way they are.  Intellectually we will know, but a small part of our hearts will always betray us.  But that’s okay.  Just like our kids, we are different.

Autism is part of who our babies are.  Admitting that doesn’t change them.  Admitting that doesn’t hurt them.  Admitting that doesn’t mean you love your kid any less.  Admitting that doesn’t mean you will stop searching for ways to make his life easier.  In fact, admitting that will in all likelihood hasten the influx of tools that are available to you, your wife, and most importantly, your son.

***

Dear Brother,

It’s okay to feel the way you do…it is how we are wired, but ultimately, denial only hurts the one, beautiful creature we are trying to protect.

Sincerely & Respectfully,

Luau

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