like it? i love it!

Friends, What you are about to read is entirely unedited. I honestly have no idea if it’s even English. My girl had a rough night last night and, given what happened here in Boston yesterday, there wasn’t a chance that I was going to kick her out of my bed. She’s still here next to me, sleeping peacefully on my leg through the clickety-clack of my laptop’s keys. Somehow, that seems just right, as all of us will undoubtedly hold our kids just a little closer today. I am so grateful to the people who put themselves in harm’s way day in and day out in service to their communities. Boston Fire, EMS, and Police, you kept our city safe yesterday. Containing a nine alarm fire on a city block in 35 mph winds with 50 mph gusts was unimaginable. And yet, you did the unimaginable. You walked into the blaze to save the rest of us from it. I have no words big enough to thank you for that. To the families of the fallen, please know that we stand with you. We are grateful and indebted and will never, ever forget the sacrifice of our city’s true heroes. 

35-oscardorothy-741258

{ Image is a photo of Oscar the grouch holding a picture of Dorothy the goldfish, given to him by Elmo. The picture has spaghetti spilled on it, which, of course, makes Oscar love it all the more.}

I know this will come as a surprise to no one, but I love my kid. I love both of them, of course, but for the moment, can we just talk about the little one? There’s just something about her. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s like she’s just got this energy that fills a room and makes everything lighter and brighter and more … there. It’s sort of magical, this thing that she does. She just makes you feel .. better and more. She makes you feel MORE.

I’d say that it has nothing to do with autism, that it’s just .. her .. but how the heck would I know? There’s no separating her from her operating system; so even if they’re not one in the same, they’re far too holistically enmeshed (wait, can you be too holistically anything or is that like being sort of pregnant or a little bit dead? Cause it’s either holistic or it’s not, right? Okay, let’s, scratch the “holistically” and just go with too enmeshed. But wait, they – meaning she and her autism – really are holistically enmeshed. That’s important. Hmm, ok, screw the whole sentence and we’ll start over, shall we?) …

There’s no separating her from her operating system, so even if they’re not one in the same, given that they are holistically enmeshed, I can’t really attribute something to either her or her autism but not both.

See what I did there?

Anyway, back to the magic. There’s just something so contagious about this kid’s energy. Even through the phone, of which she is NOT a fan, her squealing giggle and her happy stimmy vocal gymnastics – they just change everything. I dare you, I literally challenge anyone, to interact with her and not be changed. Doesn’t happen.

Many years ago, at the end of Brooke’s ESY (Extended School Year, better known as summer session), I got a beautiful, hand-written card from the woman who had served as her summer case manager. When she wrote it, she had known my daughter for six weeks. For those who aren’t math majors, that’s 42 days. Not a lot. This was what it said:

I can’t really explain what has happened between Brooke and me these last six weeks but it has been life changing for me. Never before has a child (other than my own) crept into my heart as quickly and stealthily as your daughter has. I have watched in complete amazement as she works and works to connect with the world.

Beyond the repetition and the grasping attempts to pull from her limited repertoire of conversation starters, there is this aura that is solely Brooke’s. It is an invisible exhale, a breath of color, warmth, love, tenderness and song. And then, in the midst of the ‘oh yeahs’ and missed nuances, the sensory overloads — there are these scintillating seconds when with just the slightest eye contact and a well-rehearsed smile, a tuck of the hair behind the ears, she pours her love around you the best she knows how. It makes my eyes well, my hair stand and my heart sing …

…I can’t explain it really. I just know she has touched my soul… She is so brave and has kept me honest. I need to come out of my comfort zone more often with even the tiniest amount of the courage that she shows each day.

I sat and cried as I read that note that first time and I sit and cry as I pull it out year after year and read it again. Because that’s it. The invisible exhale of color and warmth and tenderness and song. Yes, song. That’s totally it. And I swear to you, I feel like the luckiest human being on the face of the Earth that every day – every single day! – I get to be in her presence.

On Tuesday afternoon, I was losing my stuffing. Work was, well, work, and the whole business of being a grown up was really just wearing my ass down. And then I got an email. And I could HEAR my girl in it. With very few words (nine to be exact), she’d managed to convey her essence, her voice, her joy, her glorious loving, tender, joyful, song-filled energy to her Mama. In nine words, she’d filled my soul.

Nearly three weeks before, she’d sent me an email that said, “Hi, Mama, I had art and P.E. today. During art, a boy named Ezra gave me a picture that he made. It was colored squares. I was happy because I loved the picture. Off to go to phys ed. TTYL. XOXOXOXO, Brooke”

I had responded immediately upon receiving it, as I always do. I had written, “Aww, that’s so sweet that he gave you his picture. We can hang it up in your room if you’d like. I miss you!!!!!! Can’t wait to see you later.”

On Tuesday, nearly three weeks after the initial exchange, Brooke wrote back.

“I really like it. Like it????! I love it.”

And there it was. My girl, every bit of her, right there glowing from my tiny little phone screen. I could hear her laugh as she’d typed the words. I could hear that delicious, self-satisfied squeal that she simply can’t contain when her joy is too big. The one I pray that no one ever convinces her to try to contain.

I recognized the words as a script, but couldn’t remember where it was from, so I called Luau and asked. He couldn’t place it either, so I made him promise that I could talk to her after school while he drove her, along with her friend, Becky, to their adaptive gymnastics class.

“Hello, Jess,” she said, giggling, when I called.

“Try again, Missy,” I said, just as I always do.

“Hi, Mooooomah,” she said, giggling again.

“Hi, baby.”

“What’s in Winston’s nose?” she asked.

“Doggy snotties,” I whispered, as I always do.

“How do I say it?” she asked.

“Nope,” I said. “I’m not saying it your way. I’m saying it my way.”

I heard Becky laughing in the background as Brooke said it in a high-pitched squeal – her way. “Brooke,” she said, “you’re silly!”

“Hey, Brooke,” I said. “I have a question for you.”

“You do?” she asked.

“Yup. I loved your email today,” I said. “It made me smile.”

“It did?” she asked, then melted into laughter again. “Did I ask you what’s in Winston’s nose?”

“No, ya silly,” I said, “You wrote to me about the picture that the boy gave you in art class, remember?”

“Yeah,” she said, “and I said, ‘Like it??? I love it!’”

“That’s right, baby!” I said. “Where is that from? I can’t remember.”

“I said it of the Street Where We Live On.”

“Oooh,” I said, “you mean the Sesame Street show?”

“Yeah and of when Oscar thinks it’s funny and he loves Elmo’s picture when it gets the spaghetti sauce on it!”

Both she and Becky were now roaring with laughter. Clearly, Louis CK has nothing on Oscar the Grouch.

“Ah,” I said, remembering the scene now. “When Elmo thought the drawing was ruined because he spilled his dinner on it but Oscar liked it even better because it was yucky?”

“Yeah!” she shouted. “And he said, “Like it????! I love it! GottaGoNowBye!”

And with that, I hung up the phone, full, rejuvenated, and, as always, gloriously, perfectly changed by my girl.

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7 thoughts on “like it? i love it!

    • …and of course: “To the families of the fallen, please know that we stand with you. We are grateful and indebted and will never, ever forget the sacrifice of our city’s true heroes.”

  1. The Street We Live On is watched in our house every Sunday afternoon, without fail. And the script my guys engage in revolves around The Peacock Dance (right down to the background music as the little girls dance). My guys also like to script from a Sesame Street alphabet DVD, to the point where their therapists now greet them with parts of the script in the morning. It’s wonderful. And I love reading about Brooke and recognizing what she, too, is scripting. (Like, aah, yes, she’s a part of my boys’ club, or maybe they’re a part of hers…) Brooke has good taste :)

  2. Great story today. My son is loved by every teacher and sped para he has ever had and he is 15. We have been at Seattle Children’s Hospital since July 4th and I have to tell you, he has kidnapped everyone’s heart here from doctors, nurses, the cleaning staff to the Star Bucks baristas that see him almost daily and know his name (but then every one knows his name). He touches everyone very strongly (is that a word)? They will remember him for a very long time and that is because of his huge heart and sweetness. Is it his autism or him? There is no distinction. He is him and him is he :) Thanks for your wonderful stories, they are the first thing I read every morning.

  3. I was referred to start reading your blog and FB page recently. So hello nice to meet you! My middle child is 7 and recently diagnosed Autism Spectrum – High Functioning and while I would love to pour my heart out here with the journey we have taken since age 2 of him going from ADHD dx to bipolar to now autism, I will spare you as I’ve already blogged it ALL. What I Will do is leave a comment that pertains to this particular post, I feel what you feel. I have always said my son has this energy about him, we have always been connected differently than my other two children. Recently his counselor said I need to ‘separate’ our emotional connection. What in the world?! This is a child who excels in life, he does good in school and I have been able to get him to go outside of his comfort zone THREE times this month WITHOUT a frustrated meltdown from him, why was I able to succeed with that? Because of our emotional connection. I have noticed that my son has the same effect on outsiders, people and peers flock to him. He just has this energy about him and personality that makes people feel happier just simply being a part of his world. Great post, I wish I could subscribe to your blog for updates, if there is a way please do let me know! I so know this feeling you are expressing here and I am thankful to have been told to read your blog and FB page, because it sounds like you are a lot like me in how we view our child. <3

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