Happy Birthday Dad

I’ve written this post for Jacob. It’s really not right for me to assume what he’d want to communicate. Who am I to know what he’d ‘say’? However, after all these years, I have an idea. I think a pretty accurate one and believe it would go something like this:

Today is my dad’s birthday. I want everyone to know he is the best dad ever. I am one lucky dude for sure.

Before I was born, my dad already had my name picked out. If he had a son, he wanted to name him Jacob. So when the doctor said “it’s a boy”, my dad was super excited! His firstborn, called Jacob.

We would have so much fun. Camp in the backyard with flashlights. Teach me to ride a bike. He imagined we’d go to ball games to cheer on our favorite team and ride motorcycles one day. Maybe we would learn and play golf together. And I might graduate from the same college and become an engineer like him. Parents dream big dreams for their children and he probably did for me.

Instead, a neurologist told him I wouldn’t grow and learn like most children. It was a sad day and I watched tears roll down his face. But you know what? My dad has never acted disappointed in what I can’t do. It seems his mission in life is to help me do my best. He tries to set me up for success. I know he wants happiness for me most.

The involved dads help out with their young children. They may feed, give baths, and brush teeth. Read a book before putting them to bed and say night-time prayers. What they don’t do, is consider they may be doing those things for the rest of their life. But my dad has continued to do those things and even more to meet my needs for 40 plus years now. Over and over again. Including praying with and for me every single night.

Dad, today on your birthday, I want to say thanks for always being there for me. Today I want happiness for you the most.

May you have all the chocolate you can eat. Enough for you and enough for me (because you always share).

As you are out on the golf course today, I hope you have a really Happy Happy Birthday Dad!


I love you,
Cooter Bug

Clear a Path

Fairly often when I drop Jacob off in the mornings, the entrance to his building may be blocked or crowded. Not that he can’t enter. But there may be 2, 3, 4, 6 people either in the doorway, at the check-in desk, or in the only available hallway.

It may be staff congregating, parents, or clients arriving. Herein lies a problem. Jacob has an aversion to walking between people. Or, sometimes even walking past a person who may have their back to him and not causing any interference whatsoever. I’d chalk it up as social anxiety. Perhaps. Why is that? Your answer is as good as mine. I don’t know for sure but I do wish it wasn’t an issue for him. It is hard to avoid in so many situations. But, I can tell you this—it helps to clear a path for Mr. Pigford.

By observation, you can determine which people ‘know’ Jacob. They may have experienced his wrath. They move out of his way. It’s sad for me when I see peers scurry away. “Here comes Jacob.” But the truth is, he has gotten his point across to them and they’ve learned to respect his space.

We are taught to use good manners. Hold a door open for someone approaching. Unfortunately, that is not the thing to do when Jacob is headed for the door. Over and over again, I have witnessed a nice mannerly person open the door for him only to receive a very unfriendly ‘thank you’. YIKES!

I feel like I am always apologizing for his behavior. Coffee in your hand? Hold on tight, there’s about to be a spill. “I’m sorry.” Purse on your arm? Not for long as he may grab it and toss into the bushes. “I’m sorry!” Arm full of papers? Watch out, they may go flying. “I’m so sorry!” Nothing between you and him? He’s probably going to pull on your clothing. “I’m sorry!” “He popped buttons off your shirt?” “I am so sorry, bring it back and I’ll sew those on for you!”

Very often I have a feeling of déjà vu as I watch Jacob when people are nearby. Sometimes I’m almost holding my breath. Sometimes praying. It’s like a movie I’ve seen before. I know how it is going to play out. And it’s probably not going to be a happy ending. I can’t decide whether to intervene and warn his intended victim or see if perhaps it doesn’t play out like it has other times.

The good thing about stepping aside and letting Jacob open a door for himself is his focus shifts to the job at hand rather than the person. (Not that he can’t multi-task but your odds are better if he has one hand on the door.)

Doorways are not the only time he may act out. A crowded hallway can feel as threatening to him. You know how dignitaries have security that practically circles them making sure the ’common’ folk don’t get too close to touch? Jacob needs his own shield or security detail to keep everyone at a safe distance. Or maybe porcupine quills …

Make a way, clear a path, he’s coming through!!

Just Like That

When Jacob was little I made him a small book out of fabric. It was before everything kids owned had a monogram or applique. He loved that book. That was close to 40 years ago and would you believe we still have it? Check it out. More like a rag now as it was washed so many times. He hasn’t cared a thing about it in decades but I can’t bring myself to throw it away.

Often children attach to something that becomes their security blanket. Their emotional support. My sister’s silky nightgown became her daughter’s must-have blanket. My granddaughter had a small ‘lovey’ that was her comfort at bedtime. I can’t say Jacob HAD to have the book to go to bed at night, but it was something he held tightly and seemed to know where it was at all times.

There is another thing that he did get attached to many years ago. A toy called Disney Tunes KidClips. Each came with various clips, one song a piece. All were Disney related. The name of this blog is because of his attachment to the Hakuna Matata clip from the movie, Lion King. No matter how many different clips we tried, he always went back to Hakuna Matata.

For more years than I can remember, that toy went with him when he left home. In the car, to his day program, to church, etc. It definitely served the purpose of a security blanket of sorts. Thankfully, it had no volume controls so the sound level wasn’t too bad, or so loud to totally annoy those around him.

Although, in his Sunday School class, it was frustrating for his classmates to voice prayers. “Lord, help my sick” Hakuna Matata, what a wonderful phrase, “brother to get well soon.” “I pray for my grandma” Hakuna Matata ain’t no passing craze. “who has to move.” It means no worries “My dog” for the rest “ran away.” of your days. It’s our problem-free philosophy. “In Jesus name,” Hakuna Matata! “Amen” His whole class was great about having the lesson and prayer time with Jacob playing Hakuna Matata as the background music.

And while it was a sturdy toy and a battery would last a LONG time, they did eventually break or wear out. Or, he’d lose one. Or hide one. And yet, he HAD to have it to carry when he went somewhere. We needed to make sure to have a back-up or four or ten. At some point, they were no longer manufactured and became harder and harder to find. We would scour Ebay to be sure we always had a decent stash. Even then, sometimes there would be mild panic when we couldn’t find one. If we didn’t have a back up we were in trouble. Have you ever experienced a ‘security blanket’ missing moment with your child? Yes, like that with Jacob. Not pretty.

We are nothing if not prepared!! But, perhaps our stash has gotten out of hand.

We kept a tracker fob on the current one he was using because it wasn’t unusual for him to hide it while at his day program. Maybe stick it on a book shelf. A desk and cover it up. Under the couch (a favorite). Then when it was time to leave, multiple staff members would look everywhere with no success. BUT, I knew better than to drive away without it because the next morning, he’d conduct a frantic search for it in the van before leaving home. The tracker with app came in handy more times than I can count.

Then something changed. I’d go to pick him up and one of his teachers would say, “Jacob hasn’t played with his Hakuna Matata all day.” Often it was exactly where he set it down when he entered the building. They were realizing that he may have lost interest in it. At home, he has so many toys and things to keep him entertained that he rarely played with it there. But away from home, it was the one thing he wanted nearby. We decided to do a two week test. Send it with him and note whether or not he looked for it, picked it up, carried it around playing his favorite song.

After the testing period, his teacher said, “you know how kids outgrow their security blanket at some point?” “I think Jacob has outgrown Hakuna Matata.” “He doesn’t need it here anymore.” WOW! Just like that! It was hard to believe he really didn’t ‘need’ it. We decided then to quit sending it. And you know what? My boy has grown up and will go days without it.

I have no idea if he will find a new ‘security blanket’ and if so, what it might be. But for the time being, he’s sure of himself and manages fine without one. Good for you Jacob!!

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