Friday, May 6, 2011

Kathleen Interviews Big Daddy...

 This week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Big Daddy, a fellow blogger-who not only writes voraciously..but has just published his first book!  I became acquainted with Big Daddy and his blog late last summer. He is a very funny and sometimes poignant blogger who shares stories about family, life-and especially his relationship with his son Griffin.  I wanted to know a little bit more about the man behind the blog/book..So, I donned my Barbara Walters hat and asked for an interview.    

Kathleen-You have many loyal readers on your blog. For me, the attraction was this statement- "the purpose of this blog is to show that raising a child with a disability is not all about sorrow, lost hopes, doctors, fighting insurance companies, avoiding quacks, miracle drugs, therapists, and the like. It can be quite fun and is never boring" Was there any particular thing or moment that made you sit down one day and decide to blog? Was it frustration at the attitudes towards disability? Or was there a specific moment where you said "I have to do this"?
BD-I would love to say that I had a lofty goal such as changing attitudes towards disability, but the reality is a bit more mundane.  I'm very big on self promoting and trying to make myself look better than I really am.  However, my decision to write about Griffin was not the result of divine inspiration or creative genius.  It really just fell into my lap.
For the first ten years, or so, of his life, my wife and I spent a great deal of time trying to "fix" or "cure" Griffin.  I also spent a great a deal of time working to make as much money as possible to support these efforts.  (Truth be told, I think part of the reason I worked such insane hours was to escape from the reality that my boy  was disabled and so difficult to live with.)  Then, about three or four years ago a confluence of events, including a major health scare for me, forced me to rethink my life and my priorities. 
Literally, overnight, I retired from my profession of almost twenty years and became a full time daddy / sloth.  Since my wife does not work outside the home, my days became much more leisurely and relaxed.  I began not to see Griffin as something that needed to be fixed nor a problem that required a massive amount of money.  He was not someone I needed to avoid. Rather, I started to see him as an extraordinarily unique individual.
A really funny one.  I mean, he is so funny that writing about him just seemed obvious.  The material presented itself to me and I started putting it down on paper.  Before I knew it, I started writing about him every day.  I wrote, and published, a few articles in magazines such as Autism Asperger's Digest and the Mensa Bulletin.  The blog just seemed the natural next step.
After I saw how much my Griffin Anecdotes and Big Daddy Cartoons resonated with so many of other parents, I decided to write the book. 

Kathleen- Now we have all heard people say "I'm going to write a book someday"..usually that "someday" never really happens.  You found your "someday" and did it.    What was the deciding factor for you-what was it that made you actually sit down and write it? Frustration?  Wanting a Father's voice to be heard?  What is it that you want people to get out of this book?
BD-Even though, at my core, I am a greedy-self aggrandizing-ego maniac, my  main reason behind the book was to share Griffin with more than just the blogosphere.  Publishing a book certainly strokes my ego and will, I hope, put a few bucks in the bank.  However, I really do want to share my message.  Especially with other fathers.
The feedback I've received from many mothers over the past eight or nine months has been how they wish their husbands accepted their child's disability like I do.  I kind of chuckle at that since it took me over ten years and a heart attack before I even opened my mind to accepting Griffin as-is.
It does seem that many fathers could benefit from a bit of perspective from someone like me. Someone who has walked in their shoes and, to a certain extent, has seen how acceptance (and a sense of humor) can make life with a disabled child so much better.
My book is about acceptance more than anything else.  Sure there are a ton of poop, fart, and booger stories in there.  But mainly I share how my family uses creativity, humor, and acceptance to overcome adversity.   I think a lot fathers can benefit from this message.
Kathleen- You are a very funny writer-many of your posts are either comics or snippets of conversation between you and your son Griffin.  There are some posts however, that are very moving. One of my favorites being when you describe still having to hold your sons hand-and the idea that holding his hand might always be necessary...but at the same time you see the joy in always being able to hold his hand.  Throughout your blog it is obvious how very deeply you love and respect your son-and vice versa. What can your readers expect from your book? Is it similar to your blog?
BD-Yes!  Considering that a healthy portion of the book consists of refined / expanded blog posts from my early days, fans of the blog should find much to love.  The rest of the book consists of classic and new cartoons as well as a whole bunch of longer essays that have never appeared anywhere in print or in cyber space.  Best of all, the book also contains original essays by a dozen of the best special needs / parent bloggers out there today.

Kathleen-What does your family-especially Griffin, think about your book? Do they share a similar perspective or is it strictly from your point of view?  Lastly, What advice would you give parents-especially father's new to diagnosis?
BD-The whole family definitely shares my perspective when it comes to Griffin.  In our family we use humor as a coping mechanism and also as a way to bring Griffin into our world. He understands and uses sarcasm, which, we have been told, is unusual for kids with his diagnosis. We try not to coddle or baby him. Quite simply, he is a member of the family, and he gets the same razzing we give each other. He rarely teases back as good as he gets. However, when he does zing someone, it is beyond awesome. Not only does making fun of him not hurt him, we think it makes him stronger.
Griffin loves the book!  He is of the opinion that I wrote it because he is "awesome."  He's right.

As men, we have a tendency to want to fix every problem.  By all means, do what you can, but in the end, it was humor and acceptance that made our lives worth living.  

 By finding and recognizing humor and unorthodox beauty in our lives, we were better able to survive it.  Laughter allows us to move through tragic circumstances.  Similarly, our lives changed for the better when we acknowledged our situation and then decided what we're going to do about it.  We feel as though acceptance is being able to embrace what is rather than constantly wishing for what is not and what can never be.  Just because we accept Griffin's condition does not mean we are thrilled about it or that we wouldn't prefer it to be different.  By accepting it, we take the first step towards making the best of the situation.  We can then get on with the business of changing what we can and learning how to live with that which we cannot.  If we never took that initial step of acceptance, we would have been stuck, and if we never accepted our circumstances, we never would have known if any part of it could be made better.

 So there you have it...a little bit more about the man behind the blog/book.  If you haven't yet-I encourage you to go and take a look at his blog.  I guarantee you won't be disappointed.    


jazzygal said...

Great interview, really enjoyed reading it and getting to know Big Daddy Autism better. I really must visit his blog more often!

Well done Kathleen :-)

xx Jazzy

Anonymous said...

I have to say, my husband find it difficult to connect with Amy on many levels eventhough he loves her to bits. He's her step-dad so I often make allowances but his failure to understand her autism can often be frustrating.

Great interview with a very nice man indeed.

CJ xx

Lynn said...

So you don't actually have to be a Mensa member to be in the Mensa Bulletin right? Just kidding...Big Daddy is clearly a genius! All fathers could use a dose of his perspective...what a great Father's Day gift his book would make! See what I did there?

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Big Daddy and Kathleen- I enjoyed reading this/

Karen V. said...

Well, you learn something new every day... Touching interview. Someday, I hope to get to the level of acceptance BD has attained. :)

Welcome! said...

I also enjoyed reading that interview; in fact I enjoy reading many of the autism blogs written from the dad perspective. Perhaps I wish my husband had the same level of understanding. He is getting better but it is frustrating as I would love him to be on the same level of understanding as myself.

dluvscoke said...

I love reading Big Daddy's blog and I WILL be buying his book. My husband will love it!

Big Daddy Autism said...

That Big Daddy guy is brilliant. Quite a hunk too!

Noonie Trousers and Then Some said...

Fantastic interview BD and Kathleen. You are definitely going places BD. I don't just mean to to fridge either. I can see you becoming quite a force in the autism community. You have the best perspective as far as I am concerned.

Cheryl D. said...

I really enjoyed reading this interview! I've been reading BD's blog since last summer. I loved his humor from the first visit! I have his book and can't wait to read it--and all the essays from other bloggers I love.

Being somewhat of a BD veteran, I learned a lot about him in this interview that I never knew before!

Good job!



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