Like Son Like Father

Today my eldest son Jaedon struggled preparing for his dictation test tomorrow and explaining to his mommy why he can’t remember the Chinese words.

Today I struggled with preparing how to explain my various missteps in my work to my boss.

We’ve much in common today, my son and I!

You see, part of my decision last year to be a more stay-home dad meant leaving a relatively familiar, predictable and safe work environment, and moving into a more flexible but far more challenging role, though it afforded me more locational mobility. Unfortunately, the adage you can’t teach an old dog new tricks is proving to be a lot closer to home (my home in this case!) than ever before!

Not to say that I’m not teachable. My positive attitude towards learning was one key factor that persuaded my much younger boss to take me on, even though I’m pushing 50! But wow, what a steep learning curve this past year has proven to be for me.

As it is no doubt the case too for my eldest, who’s finding the new school year more challenging than ever before.

So here we both are, in similar situations. Stressed yet trying to stay cool. Both not quite able to comfort the other, apart from giving each other big hugs.

And as for my youngest and dearest Caleb? He’s just oblivious and in his own world, as usual. Playing his excavator, erasers & trucks, and talking about Apple Map and Marina Bay Sands. Doesn’t matter what we say or how we try to bring him into our conversations, he’ll drift right back to all these fave topics of his, punctured with loud squeals of uncontrollable delight.

Sighhh….reciprocal conversation is an alien concept to him, at least for now.

Not to say that Caleb doesn’t notice when his brother cries from the stress of studying. He actually points it out and asks: “Why is kor kor (big brother) crying?” But he never really bothers to stick around for the answer (he rarely does). Somehow, simply pointing out the obvious seems to be his only goal when asking questions. The reason why kor kor cries seems sadly unimportant to him. I often wonder what I can do to build more awareness and empathy into my youngest, but I know it’s a long-drawn process. Empathy isn’t always something that comes naturally to autistic kids as they tend to be fairly literal most of the time. At least it would seem so with Caleb.

I could sure do with some suggestions though on how to build empathy in him. Anyone has any?

In the meantime, like son and like father, Jaedon and I just soldier on. Surviving one test at a time, one job at a time, one day at a time.

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