When writing about Emma I am often struck by how other people view what we write. “She sounds just like my four year old,” is something I have heard more than once. We walk a fine line of not wanting to exaggerate the tiny steps of progress she makes, with the desire to write honestly about her life as we witness and interact with it.
For example if I write of how Emma is now sleeping through the night, only very occasionally wetting her bed, hasn’t worn a diaper since June 9th, 2010, is verbally more precocious, is displaying wonderful eye contact more and more frequently, seems to understand more, has an increased interest in being read to, tolerates more situations with increasing ease, it sounds almost miraculous. And in many ways it is.
If I then give a detailed description of a day spent with her – such as yesterday when we went not only to the Bronx zoo, but to a nearby playground afterward – describe how she never once acknowledged the hundreds of children around her, much less exchanged eye contact or words, all the while carrying a two foot long stick which she refused to release even when on the monkey bars, her utterances, her overall deficiencies appear glaring. If I insist then on adding how she attempted to sit opposite us on the subway, made odd whooping noises and whenever the doors to the subway closed with the accompanying ding-dong sound, Emma cheerfully sang, “Gank – You!” replicating the exact tone of the warning sound indicating all passengers needed to get inside the subway before it left the station, one is left with a very different sense of who she is. Yet both would be accurate and correct.
A balanced view is the goal of this blog. Neither an exaggerated version of her abilities nor deficits is what we endeavor. The trouble is, it isn’t always easy. Given a mood, a less than ideal night with too little sleep, work stresses, marital stresses, all effect how Emma comes across on paper. There’s no way to really portray her with all her idiosyncrasies without it seeming somehow off. I read past posts and barely recognize her or us, for that matter. The edges are smoothed the disagreements remain just that and not the melodramas they can feel to those intimately involved. Perhaps it is a positive thing. In the end we are the stories we tell, we become the edited versions we choose or in this case we choose to tell for Emma. Who knows what she would say, were she able to. Perhaps one day she will be able to do so and will choose to. My guess is it will be a very different story than the one we are telling.