Every evening Joe, Emma’s therapist, and Emma pick me up from my store in town. Emma pushes the door open and, upon seeing me says, “Hi Mommy!” Then she points at me and says, “It’s Mommy!” as though this were the first time she’d seen me in a very long time.
“Hi Emma!” I respond. ”I’m so happy to see you!”
Often she’ll stand back from me. Looking at me with an expression of pleasure mixed with something else I haven’t been able to decipher, she usually says again, “It’s Mommy!”
It’s almost as though she doesn’t expect to find me there each evening. As if she thinks I might be somewhere else and my presence is just a fluke. Or perhaps it’s that she’s not used to seeing me at the store. We’ve only been open a few months now and normally Joe, Emma and I are home in New York where I go to my studio each day.
After introducing Emma to whoever might be in the store when she comes, I almost always ask her, ”What did you do today?”
“Go back to Granma’s house with Mommy?” Emma will answer with an edge of anxiety.
“Yes, I’m coming with you,” I reassure her. ”What did you do today?”
Typically Emma will respond with a list of things she did. Though this is by no means a comprehensive list. Many times it’s not clear whether she is stating what she actually did, what she might have done in the last few days or what she wanted to do, but didn’t have time to. “Really?” I’ll say. ”You went bowling, sledding and skiing?” I’ll ask, looking to Joe for confirmation.
Joe likes to let Emma speak for herself and so he usually will wait to see if she responds appropriately. If she’s just said something completely outrageous he’ll interject, but more likely Emma will correct herself on her own as she did last night.
“No skiing,” she said. ”Bowling and wheel carousel.”
“Oh! Did you find a real carousel?” I asked, wondering if this was a new addition to the Aspen area.
“Yeah! Wheel carousel!” Emma responded.
“Where is it?” I asked Joe.
“It’s a metal wheel in El Jebel,” Joe explained.
“Oh, like a merry-go-round?”
“Did you have fun?” I’ll asked.
“YEAH!” Emma said. She almost always will respond to that question with enthusiasm. No one can accuse Emma of not being happy. She spends the greater part of her day in a state of bliss, always has.
When we drove home Emma waited in the back seat, allowing me to get out first to collar the dogs, before vacating the car.
By the time she appeared in the kitchen I had hung up my coat and was talking to my mother. ”It’s Mommy!” Emma said, pointing at me as though she hadn’t just spent the last twenty minutes with me.
Then she held out her arms to me, indicating that she’d like me to hug her, which I never pass up the opportunity to do.