Thursday, August 13, 2015
Now all three kids wake up at the same time, so Charlie has taken to getting up JUST a bit before the rest of them. I'm not sure if he's just an early riser, light sleeper, or he wants his alone minutes.
He still comes in to the bedroom where I am seated on the edge of the bed and climbs onto my lap like he's a very little boy, wrapping his arms and legs around me. He rests his head on my shoulder and almost goes limp like a baby, snuggling close.
"Good morning, Charlie," I whisper in his ear and kiss his cheek.
"HI" he answers and squeezes me. "Mwah" he makes the kiss sound near me. That's my kiss this time. "I luh you." That means he loves me.
"Do you want to go have fun at school today?" I ask him.
"Yeah," he answers.
"Then let's get dressed!" I gently nudge him off my lap.
"OKAY!" he says excitedly.
That's an extensive, and in depth conversation with my Charlie. Charlie will answer some questions correctly very consistently. Charlie will also answer some question with "TICKLE!" so you never know what you're going to get.
But this morning, we had a talk. He always is a little bit happier when he's communicated with me. And I admit that as a mom, I'm happy when my 11 year old tells me he loves me.
Love is a hard concept to teach - not the kind of love you show, but that the love you show = that word LOVE. I do love them of course, but I wasn't ever sure they'd understand "I love you" as a concept. There are a lot of days when you just feel like the autism zoo keeper - that you exist just to meet their demands and life requirements. It was an unspoken dream of mine, to hear them say they loved me, not as a mimic, but as something they said intentionally and with meaning.
One of the things I did for years and years was when I was cuddling them, I'd whisper "I love you, I love you SO MUCH" and squeeze them tight. I wanted them to associate that feeling, the physical cuddling with love. It felt like the best way to express it, to give them a physical association, one that was positive and snuggly and was a happy thing.
I wondered for a long time whether they would ever get it, whether "I love you" would ever be anything but some words they could say. Last week after our long, hot day at Noah's Ark we were putting on pajamas and I was recapping the day with Miles.
"Did you see animals today?" I asked.
"Animals," he answered.
"Did you see tigers?" I asked, hoping he wouldn't just repeat.
"Tigers," he answered.
I pulled his pajama shirt on over his head and held his gaze for a moment. "Miles, did you have fun today?"
At that point he smiled, kissed me and said "I love you" and squeezed me hard.
I think he gets it. I think they both get it.
And I think Miles really liked Noah's Ark.