Joe, Emma’s therapist and all around amazing guy, is sick. He has a cold and in seven years has never called in sick. Never. Not once. Seven years. So I urged Joe to take a sick day, and finally, after much arm twisting, I convinced him. I admit my methods of persuasion were more threatening than persuasive, but sometimes one must resort to such tactics. In retrospect, the thing that finally seemed to convince him was when I said something about how I would have to seriously hurt him if one of us caught the nasty bug lurking within his body, or words to that affect.
The end result was – I picked Emma up from school. Never one to pass up an opportunity for a dramatic entrance, Emma came running toward me shouting, “It’s Mommy!” She was so excited she actually bounced up and down. Once outside she turned serious, “We have to go to the doctor.” She nodded her head and looked resigned.
“Not today, Em! We are not going to go to the doctor today. Joe doesn’t feel great, so you and I are going to go get some groceries, do our study room and then you’re going to help me make dinner!”
“Grocery shopping, study room, cereal and toast!” Emma said.
“No. Catfish, cole slaw and roasted sweet potatoes,” I corrected her. ”And you’re going to help me.”
“We’re going to spend the afternoon together, just you and me,” Em said, pointing to me with an enormous grin.
“Yes, we are.”
Emma then reached over and in a rare display of unprompted affection, held my hand! Wow. Typically, holding hands with Emma is like holding on to the tail of a greased pig, in other words, it’s not easy, a certain degree of tenacity and determination are required. But yesterday, she reached over and held my hand, her cold little hand in my gloved one and suddenly the clear, blue sky looked a whole lot bluer. Filled with a sense of awe at the beauty of life, we entered Whole Foods, whereupon I turned to her and said, “I’m going to need your help getting our groceries.”
“I’m going to help you,” Emma said, tossing her backpack and then herself into the back of the grocery cart.
Later, Emma helped me dredge the catfish in cornmeal and flour, while Nic peeled the sweet potatoes and prepared them for roasting. ”Help Mommy,” Emma said at one point.
“Yes, you are.”
For more on Emma’s journey through a childhood of autism, go to: Emma’s Hope Book