Sailing On

Boy it’s been busy around here! Over a week between posts? Inexcusable.

I often think that in writing about Nate’s successes, the huge struggle in getting here gets lost. Maybe it’s because we have gotten used to what is still challenging: Nate’s weak social skills, the likelihood that he’ll live with us forever, the fears of what that means as we get older. Also, while we constantly reflect on the past, it becomes slightly more gauzy as we revel in the present.

But the Nate who talked to himself for most of the first third of his life, reciting scraps of movie and television dialogue, is still there. Last night Karen and I were in one room watching TV and Nate, two rooms away, was conducting a full blown two person conversation out loud. The Nate who would bite down fiercely on his younger brother Robbie when both were little still exists too. Sporadically, when Nate is frustrated with me, he’ll lunge for a chomp, or go to give me a pinch, making a face that is both angry and scary psycho. So that kid is there as well. All the knock down drag out fights to get Nate to complete his schoolwork have been replaced by less physical confrontations over drawing Alpha Folks designs.

I was just saying to two of Nate’s ex-high school art teachers that in Nate’s world there’s “no” and then there’s “NO!!!” We’ve learned to push through the former, because if we let his negative responses, always there and always his first reaction, dictate our behavior we’d never have gotten anywhere.

My hope has always been that Mission of Complex be a beacon of sorts to parents of kids younger than Nate who slog through the days either without hope of a future, or in fear of the years to come. Nate’s story, and ours, is just one story, maybe not easy to duplicate, but, in a general sense, there for the taking. There is progress, there can be achievement and, even if the path is different from the norm, it’s a path nonetheless.

In the last week I’ve gotten two messages, one from a local acquaintance and the other from a college pal. Both are in the same place we were a few years back. Their kids are on the spectrum, the parents have been thrown for a serious loop or are doing fine but not quite sure of what will be. As we’ve always done, Karen and I offer our lives up as examples. We pull no punches. Certainly some of the blog posts don’t make me look so good, or Nate either, but it would be completely false otherwise. Nothing is easy and nothing comes without doubts. But it’s not too long ago that we were the parents of a 10-year-old autistic kid and were terrified of what was coming.

Thank God the Earth turned out not to be flat after all, and when we hit the horizon we didn’t fall off, the world went on, and the voyage continued. Today we’re having a party for Nate’s college graduation (and Robbie’s return from Brazil). Monday is the two-year anniversary of Mission of Complex and there’s much to celebrate.

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About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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One Response to Sailing On

  1. silver price says:

    I was just saying to two of Nate’s ex-high school art teachers that in Nate’s world there’s “no” and then there’s “NO!!!” We’ve learned to push through the former, because if we let his negative responses, always there and always his first reaction, dictate our behavior we’d never have gotten anywhere.

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