It was 1:48AM when Emma appeared at the side of the bed this morning. Ever cheerful she said, “You have to ask Mommy. Mommy? Can I come get you in the other room?”
“But Emmy, it’s the middle of the night.”
“Good job asking Mommy!” Emma said brightly. Then in a more subdued tone she said, “You have to wait til it’s light out. Is it light out? Yes!”
“Em, it’s not light out. Look. It’s dark. It’s pitch black,” I said grumpily. “You have to go back to your room and go to sleep.”
I felt Emma’s face near mine, her breath on my cheek as she bent down and kissed me. “Kiss Mama,” she whispered.
“Ah, Emmy. Thank you. Come on. Go pee and then you have to go back to your bed,” I said holding her body close to mine.
“You have to go pee,” Emma said as she ran off to the toilet. As we made our way back to her bedroom she said, “You didn’t wake Nic. You have to ask Mommy!”
“That’s right Em. You didn’t wake Nic. Thank you. He needs to sleep.” I held her hand as we walked toward her bedroom.
She hopped into bed, “Mommy! Can I get you in the other room?”
“No, Em. You have to go back to sleep in your own bed. Remember? You have to try to sleep now.”
Wide-awake and fully alert Emma sat up in bed. “Mommy? Mommy?”
Emma leaned over and gave me another kiss. “Emma kiss Mommy,” she said, proudly.
“Emmy, that is so nice. I love when you give me kisses,” I stroked her head. “Now come on, let’s lie down.”
“Mommy stay with Emma?” she asked wriggling down under the duvet.
“Yes, I’ll stay with you for a little while, but you have to go back to sleep.”
“The flushing carousel is closed,” Emma said sadly. “The horses are sleeping. Shhhh, you cannot go there. You have to wait.”
“Are the horses sleeping, Em?”
“Yes. The horses are sleeping now. It’s broken,” she said. Then she leaned over and kissed me again. “Kiss Mommy.”
An hour and a half later and after many more kisses, Emma finally fell back to sleep, one leg draped over mine, an arm wrapped around my body, her face so close to mine I could feel every exhalation on my face. As I lay there with her, I remembered how as a baby Emma was so uncomfortable with human touch. It was as though it was physically painful for her to have skin-to-skin contact. Now, Emma seeks out what once repelled her.
I read once years ago of a doctor who theorized all children, no matter their cognitive issues had to develop through a specific set of behaviors or would suffer the consequences later on. For example if the child didn’t crawl, it would show in their development in other unexpected ways, learning disabilities, fine motor issues, etc. He hypothesized the reverse was therefore true as well. If a child no matter how delayed, was encouraged to go through a missed stage or came to it on their own, the child would show signs of positive cognitive development elsewhere.
Hope. One must always hope.