care

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{Image is a screenshot of Diary’s Facebook status last night. Text reads: I just told Brooke that I’m not feeling so great. She said, “Oh dear, are you properly ill? Should we get you to bed straight away?”#IKindaLoveThatPeppaPigIsMakingABritOutOfMyKid and is accompanied by an image of Brooke holding three small plush dolls: George, Candy Cat and Peppa Pig, all from the show, Peppa Pig.}

Last night, a tough week within a tough month took its toll. I was done.

Sometime around 8, I asked Brooke if she’d like to crawl into bed with me to “hang out.” I explained that I really wasn’t feeling so well and I needed some quiet time, but would still like her company. I asked her to tell Luau that I wasn’t feeling so hot and was going to rest.

I heard her scamper halfway down the stairs and shout, “Mama’s resting because she’s hot!”

Close enough.

She came back into my room and crawled into bed with me. She put her hand on my forehead. She told me to lift my shirt because she needed to “check my belly.” She then told me to wait where I was. She needed to go find her doctor kit.

After a good ten minutes, she came back lugging a gigantic toy bucket. She hoisted it onto the bed, then pulled herself up next to it. She reached into it looking very serious. Within minutes, she’d taken my temperature, tweezed an imaginary splinter from my finger, stuck an unidentified object into my mouth so that I could say, “Aaaah,” checked my ears and, inexplicably, hung three sets of plastic scissors from my fingers and used a fourth to “cut” my hair. She then declared her diagnosis. “You’re not feeling very well,” she said.

“I’m just tired, kiddo,” I said. “I’m pretty sure I just need some rest.”

“You need honey,” she said. “It will make you feel better.”

And with that, she disappeared again.

A couple of minutes later, she was back, carrying a bowl of honey and two spoons. Before I could say anything, she had pulled one of the spoons out of the bowl, dripping honey all over herself and the bed en route to shoving it in my mouth. As I did my best to clean it off of her pajamas, she watched me intently, apparently looking for signs of recovery.

“Do you feel better now?” she asked.

I smiled at her. “A bit, sweet pea. Thank you so much for the honey,” I said. That really helped.”

“Are you better now?” she asked.

“A little bit,” I said. “But I think I still need some more rest.”

“Do you like bananas?” she asked.

“Um, hmm, I do, yes, but I don’t really want one right ….”

She was gone.

A minute later, she’d come back with a banana and thrusted it over to me. “The banana will make you better,” she said.

I couldn’t have thanked her more profusely or genuinely had she just handed me the Hope Diamond.

Eventually, she agreed to turn out the lights so that Mama could rest. She got under the covers with me, curled herself around me and wrapped her arm around my waist. Moments after she put her head down on my shoulder, I was out.

I woke up sometime around midnight, still wrapped in my girl. I could only guess that she’d fallen asleep too and Luau hadn’t had the heart to move her. He must have slept upstairs.

My girl’s concern for me last night, her sweet and tender generosity, her focus on making me better – I don’t know how to explain it all. I don’t have words to convey what it is to feel so wholly loved and cared for by a person whom you were told for years would not want to be in the company of others, was not capable of empathy, would opt for a solitary life.

I can’t reduce it to letters to make words or words to make sentences. I just can’t. It’s too big, too messy, too beautiful. My girl took care of me. She mothered her mama in the most perfect way imaginable.

Those doctors, the ones who write off autistic empathy because it’s not expressed in ways that are easily recognizable to them – aren’t they the ones who lack it?

The lecturers and journalists and researchers who slap the words on our kids that would negate their humanity, denying their ability to love and be loved, to feel, to give, to nurture in their own ways — aren’t they the ones whose humanity is lacking?

And the ones who tell us that our kids will live solitary lives, never seeking the company of others? Well, they can shove that where the sun doesn’t shine, now can’t they?

Because I’ve got a bowl of honey, two spoons, a banana and a beautiful young lady still fast asleep in my bed who all say otherwise.

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20 thoughts on “care

  1. Brooke is most certainly one of the most empathetic little human beings one could hope to know. Yes, those doctors are the ones that lack a sense of humanity. I trust Brooke healed you last night?

    Love you,
    Mom

  2. This is so “sweet.” I know exactly what you mean about the empathy of our kids. Jeff can be so thoughtful and caring about not only our family but his extended one as well. He is always concerned about his housemates and the staff.
    I hope you feel better…TGIF and take it easy this weekend!!

  3. Last weekend my four year old granddaughter came out of her room in the morning, came into my bedroom, and tilted her head sideways to me (I was still in bed) and sang our good morning song to ME. First time ever.

  4. This is so beautiful. I’m tearing up! A couple weeks ago my little one was sick with the flu. She was laying on the couch, belly down. Cymbie went and sat next to her. She started rubbing and patting her back. It was the most beautiful moment I’ve ever witnessed. So yeah, those “experts” can stick up up their…

  5. My girl is empathic also. She loves babies and people. She has always been in contained classrooms most of all her school life. (She is 16) When she was much much younger, she had a friend that was in a stroller-type wheel chair that was non-verbal. They were the best of friends. When my daughter’s friend died in her sleep, my daughter cried. That was one of the first times, she showed empathy, emotion and sympathy. Now in her life, she gets concerned when someone goes to the doctors or when babies cry around her. She does not like them “suffering” Autistic children amaze me every day with the things doctors and psychologist tell us what they can and cannot do and the children prove them wrong almost every time!

  6. Yes! And this is why I want to scream every time I read how someone is helping someone recover from autism, or “escape the traps of autism.” Because, while there are real challenges that come with this autism thing, my kids’ hearts are just fine- fully open, willing to accept and love each and every person, wholly devoted to their family in a way that almost frightens me, because my non autistic heart has been conditioned to be guarded and cynical and only partially open much of the time. It’s this ability to fully immerse in an emotion that is such a beautiful, exquisite gift- and apparently makes for a sweet, wonderful nurse! Hope you’re feeling better, but if not, I have a feeling you’ll have excellent care tonight :)

  7. You are so right! Mine wants to help babies stop crying because he thinks they’re sad. And one of my favorite times is when a little boy at his daycare was crying in the hall, and the dad was comforting him. My son, who was about 4 at the time, walked up to the dad, patted dad’s shoulder, and told him “he’ll be ok, he’ll be ok”.

    So yeah, any online mention of lack of empathy gets email links to the contrary. They may have trouble with perspective taking in a “cognitive” way, but empathy isn’t an issue.

  8. I follow your blog and facebook page regularly and am always inspired by you and your family…. I don’t have any children on the spectrum, but even so, you teach me ways to be a better mother over all…. I came across this on pinterest, and you may have seen it before, but it made me think of you. Have a wonderful day!

    • I posted that quote (the whole thing, actually, that’s an excerpt) on Facebook just a couple of days ago!! Great minds ;). (And thank you for the kind words – so glad you’re here.)

  9. My mom was riding a bicycle at a park with us as we all ran around having fun. She had to stop short and fell over with her bike. One of my boys was the first one to run over to her and pat her and ask if she was ok. (He said, “You’ll be alright now?”) My mom has never forgot this and she brings it up often when we get into conversations about empathy.

    She says that as I was growing up she didn’t see a lot of what I was actually feeling most of the time because of the blank expression thing but that when she would get sick, I would worry over her like no one else. As I’ve gotten older, she says she learned so much about me as she reads the stories from my youth that I’ve written out.

    Sometimes you just have to look a little deeper to see the true emotions of an autistic but believe me when I say that they are ALWAYS there. We often get overwhelmed because we can’t handle so much emotion. It can be physically painful to see someone we care about in pain or distraught.

    I’m so glad that your sweet little angel had the chance to “mother” you because sometimes we need the mothering of our children to carry us through. *sends all the love and restful thoughts*

  10. I so get this. When he knows I’m not well, my son feeds me snack food and brings me bottled water, and checks me with the thermometer strip that he can’t quite read yet, and his behaviors drop to almost nothing…which encourages me that he’s more in control of himself than he lets on, but also worries me that I cause some of those behaviors by what I do when I’m not sick…:)

  11. I love this post so much. I am autistic and have tons of empathy. I have almost too much where its painful for me to see when others are upset or being hurt and I can’t help or don’t know what to do. Brooke is amazing

  12. I loved reading this because it made me think of my Helen and how when I lay down to rest she always takes my socks off and tucks me in. It always makes me feel so loved because I know she finds comfort in removing her socks and snuggling under blankets. Thanks for sharing this sweet and loving moment with you girl. :-)

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