“It’s Mommy! Mommy come to visit!” Emma said this morning when she saw me. It’s an odd feeling to have one’s own child, a child one lives with and sees on a daily basis, exclaim with apparent happiness that I’ve come to visit, especially when I am in my own home. My first thought was that as Richard and I went out the night before and I only saw Emma for a brief period before we left, she was indirectly expressing her feelings that I haven’t been around enough. Then I began to feel guilty and consoled myself with the fact that I will not be going out again in the foreseeable future. “You came to visit!” Emma said, cutting through my thoughts.
“Well it’s not really a visit, when I’m here all the time,” I said in an effort to clarify and unburden myself of just a little guilt.
“It’s Mommy!” Emma repeated, as though she were surprised.
It reminded me of a time not long ago, when Emma on one of her perseverative loops of anguish, kept running through the house crying out something none of us could decipher.
“What is she saying?” we asked each other more than a few times.
Emma’s upset became more extreme and ended with her biting herself.
Someone (it may have been me) then asked, “Why is she doing this?”
I remember thinking, “Umm, because she’s autistic? Do we really need to look much further?” But I didn’t say it out loud, okay so maybe I muttered it under my breath. The point is, applying my own reasoning to Emma’s behavior usually doesn’t get me very far. And often it is counter-productive.
“You came to visit!” Emma repeated again.
“No Em. I live here. You visit someone when you go to their house, a different house to see them for a little while or when they come here, to our house, but then leave, then they visit you.” Okay, so it wasn’t the best explanation I’ve ever come up with, but it was the best I could do in the moment.
Emma stared at me for a moment and then said matter-of-factly, “Have breakfast now.”
“Right,” I said. Too much information. Got it.
When Emma and I were in her bathroom, getting ready to brush her teeth, she stood on her little stool and while looking at herself in the mirror, put her arm around my neck, pressing her cheek against mine. “It’s Mommy!” she said, pointing to my reflection. Then she gave me a kiss on the cheek.
It was one of the moments you wish you had a remote control to hit the pause button on. I thought of how it was such a typical little kid thing to do, how wonderful it was to see her do something like that.
“Let’s go visit Nic,” I said after she’d finished brushing her teeth – meaning we should go find him, see what he was doing. And I caught myself. I understood how and why she said, earlier – I was “visiting.” Emma was hearing the word used and applying it as best she could in a similar situation.