Collectively Proud

Nate and I have way more similarities than differences. At times that feels counter-intuitive – he has autism, I don’t – and I imagine that many parents of children with a “syndrome” of sorts find it either difficult to connect or don’t want to concede that their “afflicted” kid has shared personality traits. My guess is that would be a painful admission, the knowing that the issues that plague the child come from the parent.

Me, I’ve never seen it that way. I totally relate to Nate’s obsessive qualities and, in ways that I would say are slightly smoother (though others might disagree), we are often without filter in what we say. Even when he is at his worst, unable to unhook himself for whatever he’s compulsive about, I see the me in him.

A few months ago Nate made a bold move. He decided, for reasons still unknown, that he was going to replace all his old Disney videos with DVDs. There were a lot to replace but Nate has his own money and having The Smithy show and a good amount of strip mall sales helped his cause. He brought all his VHS tapes to an upstairs closet, the door of which is always open as he visits his old friends and looks upon them lovingly.

On the hutch in the Big TV room, Nate has organized his DVDs, Blu-ray and regular. He goes up to them constantly during the day, smiling, talking to them, taking pictures of the collection, talking to himself, to the DVDs, to us. It may look weird, I know one of his siblings reacts with discomfort, but I get it. I get it totally.

Every day I head up to the carriage barn. I clean my recently purchased records, I spin some, I pull out a stack to rifle through. It’s an integral part of my existence. I don’t talk to my vinyl, at least not out loud, but we do go back and have a very strong relationship. It’s not at all different from Nate and his DVDs. I see that.

And I love it too. It’s a very real way to feel joined to Nate, my son, which is really every parent’s dream.



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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