I thought I was done harping on the sibling stuff. I really did. But well, we all know about the best laid plans of mice, men and autism moms. *Sigh.*
We’d had a wonderful night. Friends had visited with their two girls. We’d had dinner like grown-ups. We’d shared a bottle of wine, bored our spouses with age-old stories and laughed heartily at ourselves and each other.
The girls had run off together after their dinner. In her own way, Brooke had been a part of the action.
As our friends left, the girls all hugged goodbye. Brooke convinced the older girls that one last round of Ring Around the Rosy was called for. They graciously obliged. It was a delicious ending to a wonderful visit.
We’d let the night wear on far longer than we should have. As we cleaned up and got the girls ready for bed, exhaustion crept in and the evening’s euphoria inevitably melted into puddles of dysregulation. Both girls were just plain done, but Brooke was a certifiable mess.
She whined. She cried. She screamed. She fought every step of the bedtime routine. At the suggestion of brushing her teeth she wailed “NOOOOOOOOOO!” as if she’d just been prodded toward the electric chair. Luau eventually came in and took over in the bathroom as I headed into Katie’s room to say goodnight.
While Brooke lashed out, Katie turned in. Fatigue, as it often does, had wrapped her in a melancholy haze. She was lying in bed, quietly watching the rainbow of light on her wall.
“Mama, I’m not doing so well,” she said as I sat on the edge of her bed. I brushed her hair out of her eyes and gently pulled her quilt over her shoulders.
Brooke was yelling in the bathroom as Luau brushed her teeth. I cocked my head toward the door and said, “Well, you’re doing better than your sister right now, my love.”
She turned away from the wall and looked at me. Her eyes were heavy.
“Actually, Mama,” she said, “I don’t think I am. It’s just that I don’t have autism, so you wouldn’t know.”
I wrapped my arms around her and hoped she wouldn’t feel the tears spilling onto her quilt.