In case it’s not obvious, this is not my actual refrigerator. I’m thinking it’s not really anyone’s actual refrigerator cause not for nothin’, but who the heck has an entire shelf of tomatoes? Or not one but three large bottles of coke? Right? Right.
8:30 p.m. Just before bedtime.
I hear Brooke make her way down to the kitchen. Having seen this movie before, I know how it ends. I follow her, preferring to intervene now rather than clean up later.
I arrive to find her standing in front of the fridge. She is hanging off the handles of the open doors staring at the shelves of food inside.
I gently reprimand her. I learned in Mama School that every parent has to, at some point in their lifetime tell her kid that the fridge is not a TV – or something along those lines. It’s mandatory, you know. Check it out. I think it’s in the handbook – right next to the part about not getting into a pool until your food has settled – whatever that may actually mean.
I explain that the refrigerator uses energy when we open it. She responds with an exaggerated echo. “EN -ergy?” and I have to wonder how that sentence might get processed through the Brooke-filter.
She finally makes a choice – sliced peaches and yogurt – and we close the fridge.
11:30 p.m. Long after bedtime.
I’m starving. It was a weird night. I had a rare meeting after work, then another via phone that ran until well past 7. By the time I got home dinnertime had long since passed. I jumped into the evening routine with the girls and never managed to eat. I haven’t had a bite since lunch.
I wander into in the kitchen, contemplating a snack. I have no idea what I want.
I am staring into the open fridge, searching for inspiration. I laugh, playing back the evening. I watch myself chide Brooke for doing exactly what I am now doing myself. I see my hand tease the handle out of hers and close the door. I hear her echo. “EN-ergy?.
And then it happens. The simplest, most delicious thought runs through my head.
“Can’t blame her I guess; she’s her mother’s daughter after all.”
Such a simple, typical thought, isn’t it? So commonplace, this idea that one’s child is JUST LIKE THEM.
Oh but we know better, don’t we? We know that typical thoughts ain’t always so typical in Autismland. We learn quickly that sometimes, the seemingly mundane is actually anything but. In fact, sometimes it’s everything.
I settle on the leftovers of last night’s chicken parmesan and pile some dried pineapple onto the plate for good measure. I close the refrigerator door.
As I head upstairs with my plate, I can’t stop smiling. My kid is – in some small way at least – JUST. LIKE. ME. Yup, the seemingly mundane can be everything.
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