Twenty one years ago, our son Jack was born. He was the child we thought we’d never have, and made his appearance after six heartbreaking IVF attempts. He was the result of lucky attempt number seven.
We are so very proud of you, Jack, from the very beginning you’ve been entirely unique. You didn’t speak English until you were nearly four, because you’d developed your very own language (even the speech therapist was impressed.) We spent hours convincing you to use English words, and gradually stripping ‘Jackanese’ as we dubbed it, from your everyday language.
We spent years worrying about your lack of confidence. You were the child who didn’t want to go to new places, in case you got lost. You didn’t have the courage to do an egg and spoon race at the Air Force Xmas Treat, because you wanted to study the other children and see how it was done first. You fretted over doing things ‘wrong’ and in Year 8, the drama teacher had to devise an entirely new approach for you in Drama, because you refused, point blank, to set foot on the stage. Many of these events happened because you were diagnosed with High Functioning Autism, and your Dad and I decided to best way to deal with your fears, was to help you overcome and conquer them, one step at a time. I don’t know how many times we sat down with you, and told you HFA didn’t mean you were different or wrong, it meant you were special and just had to find different ways of doing things. We told you that we knew you could do anything, be anything that you wanted to be, and that you had the ability to soar with the eagles.
We watched you overcome your difficulties. From the boy who wouldn’t step foot on stage – you’ve become the man who relishes appearing before an audience, and regularly appears in amateur theater productions.
From the boy who was shy, unapproachable and played alongside other children, rather than with them, you’ve become the man who approaches meeting people with courage and good nature, making friends like the Pied Piper collected children.
From the boy who sat and rocked at the dining room table, stressed to the eyeballs and monosyllabic because he couldn’t understand schoolwork, you’ve become the man who has embraced education and taken himself back to TAFE to become a Fitness Trainer in the future.
You’ve made us laugh, you’ve made us cry. We’ve gone from worrying that you didn’t have enough confidence, to sometimes being a little concerned that you have too much.
You’ve embraced working at McDonalds, and proven to your father and I again, that you can do anything you want in this world. We worried about how you would adapt to a working environment with strangers. You set out, once again, to prove our concerns were unfounded and (naturally) were chosen as the ‘laughter leader’ for McDonalds Ellenbrook.
You have an absolutely unique ability to bring sunshine and happiness to those around you. We have laughed – oh – how we’ve laughed, over some of the things you say and do. (We’ve also shaken our heads, on numerous occasions, particularly your brother Adam.)
Too many things to mention here, but the highlights have to include discovering red cordial can make you actually appear drunk to those around you (boy, did some of our friends have fun with that knowledge, deliberately buying you bottles of red cordial)… telling you that we thought you were becoming egotistical, which you took to be ‘egotesticle’ and from then you relished telling people you had three testicles – left, right and ego… the day you came home from Chemistry and told us you were never going to understand the ‘Peridontic Table of Elephants’… your complete inability to understand the concept of time, which has consequently led to you double booking, sometimes triple booking yourself for events (which your father and I had to get you to)… and the fact that you spent any number of years, having us actually need to tell you when we were being sarcastic because you had no clue.
It’s been a rollercoaster, but an immensely enjoyable one. Happy 21st Birthday, Jack. If the world could bottle your essence, it would surely be a happier place. We are very proud of the man you’ve become and wish you every success in the future xxxx