My four-year-old and I have been butting heads. And I don’t like yelling at him and I need to work on being more patient. I think all parents can agree that there are times when you just lose your mind. And he has been fighting me on everything. Put your shoes on. “NO!” Cry cry cry. Eat your dinner. “NO!” Cry cry cry. Go potty… You get the idea. But having Down syndrome makes things more difficult for Cooper. And while I don’t want his disabilities to be a stigma, I see how hard he struggles.

Cooper has things to say and he can’t get the words out. So my new philosophy is to try to put myself in his shoes. To understand the frustration he must feel when he wants something but he can’t vocalize what it is he wants. And when I spend time in his shoes, it makes me realize how the world is so impatient. And I am right there at the top of that list of impatients. Everything is go go go. If you don’t immediately take off when the traffic light turns green, you get a fuck you. We’re constantly being rushed.

Cooper can do things on his own like getting dressed or brushing his teeth, but I usually end up doing them for him because I can’t slow myself down and I don’t have the patience to let him do tasks on his own. What I often forget, however, is that when he does complete a task, it gives him a great sense of pride and accomplishment. And that’s something that I can easily change, and I have seen the immediate effects it has when I just take a breath and slow down. Who cares if we’re not right on time? Who cares if bedtime gets pushed aside by 20 minutes? Who cares if you are wearing two different colored socks? Well, I care, but I’m trying not to.

And I’m going to use this blog as a way of talking about my feelings. I plan to be completely true to myself and anyone reading this. I have yelled at Cooper enough and I always feel bad and ashamed afterwards. I think we all yell at her kids at some point and the good parents try to explain why they became upset, and the good parents know how to apologize if they yelled for no reason. I’m trying to be the good parent. I’m trying to be more patient. And I know Cooper is trying too.

The other day I took Cooper to the hardware store to return some piece-of-crap electronic digital reader I bought to test a bad outlet, and it didn’t work (or there is a very real chance that I did not know how to use it correctly). He was so good at the store. I let him walk instead of putting him in a cart. And I gave him a job. He held the bag with the item and handed it to the cashier. He listened and waited patiently. When she took the bag, he clapped and she was very nice to him and he made her smile. I need to take that tactic from now on.

I love both my sons. They come with their individual challenges but they are the most important things to me and I love being a dad. It is the most important thing in my life. I am a family man. That’s a beautiful thing to be. And I’m going to work at being a better one in the years to come, and I’m going to do my best to be more patient and temper my temper.

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