Just For Dads – July 2019

By Ward Williams

DTA, Tate!

“Don’t touch anything” was one of the most common expressions I used with my oldest son Tate when he was younger. Tate recently sat for his senior pictures, and this experience has me reminiscing on some fond memories of my unique, quirky and wonderfully made son. From early childhood, Tate had his own way of thinking and doing things. One unique characteristic of Tate as a child is that he wanted to touch everything and everyone when it was appropriate and when it was not. He wanted to touch people on their face, hair, and rub their bald heads.

He would draw on himself, draw on things, and draw on other people. At one time it was given a name of Sensory Integration Disorder. I called it “we are about to be kicked out of places.” One summer on the way to the Smithsonian, we stopped at the National Art Museum. We gave Tate the don’t touch anything (DTA) speech. Tate violated the rule multiple times in the first 50 steps. His curiosity led him to touc priceless sculptures and put his hand on a Picasso painting. We left in a hurry.  We were at a White House event, and Tate turned the power off in a room that caused a secret service agent to spring into action.

Most teachers and adults have loved the creativity of my son who looks at the world in an original way, while some have encouraged Tate to try to conform. As parents, we set goals and pray that our kids would be followers of Christ, people of Integrity, thankful, and resilient when they leave our house. My advice to those who want Tate and other kids to follow God’s unique plan for their lives is let them be their own unique selves. As parents, our job is to guide them, correct them, and help instill the values that we think are important to be successful as they go about the world exploring, interacting, and learning from everything around them.

Ward Williams is the executive director of Vineyard Family Services in Pelham. He can be reached at ward@vfsdads.com.

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