November 16, 2011
Dear Little One,
Sometimes you make me want to tear my hair out. Not all of it, but some of it. Not all of the time, but some of the time. I have a feeling you feel like tearing your hair out some of the time, too, because navigating the world with autism is tough. I know that and surely you do, too. This is why instead of tearing my hair out, I breathe and you breathe and then we breathe together until we figure out a way to get from one thing to the next.
Disclaimer: This is a stock photo.
Lately you’ve been yelling at me. Strike that. You’ve been yelling at me all the time. It’s partly because anger is one of two emotions you understand, but also because you don’t have a firm grasp on voice modulation. When I point out that you’re yelling and that you may not realize it, you shift into a somewhat calmer voice for a sentence or two until you forget and start yelling again. And then I remind you again. And so our dance goes, a halting two sentence two-step.
Little One, the occasions when you’ve spoken softly of your own volition are a rarity I can count on one hand. And I do count them because every little success matters. You speak in whispers when you’re afraid, like when you slipped your hand into mine at the field trip where we watched dancers, white like angels, and you told me you were afraid that the devil was going to come out next. Scary stuff worthy of your whisper for sure.
Today I reminded you that you’d have a guest teacher for the next couple of days and that we’d see each other again after Thanksgiving vacation. You misunderstood and when we hugged goodbye, you whispered “You’re leaving? I’m not going to see you again?”
My heart broke into brittle pieces, Little One, because you are so afraid of your loved ones leaving you. I assured you I’d be back and we’d see each other again in a few days and you whispered “I don’t like this.” I could hear the fear in your voice.
Little One, I’m not leaving you. Even when you make me want to pull my hair out, I will come back. Even when I have to take deep breath after deep breath, I will come back. Even when you spend the whole day learning not to yell, I will come back. When you come to me with anger, or frustration, or fear, I will do my best to come back with patience, consistency and love.
Know this, Little One, you are worth coming back for.
It breaks my heart that someone you love doesn’t think so. And it tears me to bits that you associate loving with leaving.
And so I will spend the rest of our time together this year proving that I will always come back to you. I will always come back for you.
Little One, I will always come back because of you.