magic wand

About three years ago, Katie and I went to see Disney on Ice. On the highlight reel of my life with young children, it was right up there with the time that I gave in and took us all to Chuck E Cheese. We went, we saw, we ate food in colors not found in nature, and we came home with a bunch of overpriced plastic crap that we would scratch our heads at later. Truth be told, I’d sooner chew glass than do either of those things again, but it’s nice to know that we’ve done them.

I looked everywhere for something to bring home for Brooke. She was only two, and she would not have tolerated the whole experience, but I still hated not being able to bring her along. I wanted desperately to find something that she would really enjoy. After an exhaustive search, I settled on a battery powered light up wand. It made a pretty (red!) light that I thought might capture her attention.

She had no interest in the wand, and, like so many of its predecessors, it found its way into the depths of the toy box, where it would presumably die a slow, primary colored death.

About six months ago, Brooke rediscovered the wand. With great fanfare, she walked around her room, turning off one light after another, closing doors to shut out the light from the hallway and the bathroom, beseeching us to close her curtains. She then lit the wand and held it in front of her face. “Oooooooh, it’s beeeeeeooooooootiful.”

Three years after its purchase, she now adores the wand. She hides in her closet and takes it under her covers , trying to create enough darkness to fully appreciate it.

Last night, Brooke, Katie and I all settled into her darkened room to enjoy some wand time. After a while, Katie took a turn holding the light. “Look, Mama,” she said from my lap. “I have my very own maaaaaaagic wand!”

“If only, baby,” I said more wistfully than I wanted to.

Katie turned to look at me through the wand, her face glowing red.

“Mama, you wouldn’t use it to make Brooke’s autism disappear, you know.”

What the? I mean, huh? Whu? How did we end up here? Autism? How would she know .. ? Why would she say … I swear I’m not leaving anything out. There was no lead in. No warning. Just unfiltered seven year-old thoughts. I couldn’t breathe.

Seeing that I was stunned into silence, she continued.

“You wouldn’t want her autism to disappear because we love her so much. You wouldn’t ever want to trade her for someone different.”

I caught just enough air to ask, “What do you mean, baby?”

I was painfully aware that this conversation was taking place as Brookel paced the perimeter of her room, looking for something. Always moving.

“Well, she’s Brooke. And we love her exactly the way she is. I mean, she’s my little sister and I absolutely adore her. I know I wouldn’t want her to be someone else.”

I absolutely adore her – her mama’s words.

“And if she didn’t have her autism it would be like we were trading her for a different little girl. We would never want to do that.”

I snagged Brooke as she made her way by and pulled her into a tight, half-body squeeze. I whispered in her ear, “You are my perfect little girl,” just before she wriggled out of my arm to continue her perimeter walk.

“No, baby. We would never want that.”

Luau came in to start bedtime stories with Brooke. Katie and I headed to her room for some quiet time together. As we stepped into the light, she saw the tears that now streaked my cheeks.

“Mama,” she said nonchalantly, “there’s really nothing to cry about. Brooke’s OK, she just is who she is. Hey, want to take a trip?”

I must have nodded.

She started readying the plastic toboggan that takes us to imaginary lands far away. She piled in the blankets, stuffed animals and pillows that we would need for the trip. She glanced at the lit Christmas tree on her table and settled on Christmas-Land as a destination.

I settled in and watched in wonder. Once again, I’m being gently pulled and tugged and prodded along this journey by a seven and a half year-old sage.

I couldn’t ask for a better tour guide.

18 thoughts on “magic wand

  1. the fact that she just “gets it”…is accepting, period, without having to slowly learn it, work through all of the denial issues…honestly? Katie is so smart and mature that it’s kind of a shock. I think we’re all going to be answering to her one day. “Yes Madame President”.

    I am pre-voting for her.

    It’s just amazing, because even the most compassionate person has to learn a lot, grow, work up to something like acceptance or empathy. And she’s just there with it, naturally, effortlessly.

    Which makes sense. Quality parents make quality kids. I think I can trace back the roots of her compassion.

  2. denise, marcella .. i thank you so much for your words . you know, i’ve just caught up with an old friend after a prolonged absence – he said to me, ‘it seems that you’ve really found meaning and purpose in your children’


    and the added bonus is that somehow my words and our story seems to find its place with others too. i am consistently stunned, humbled and gratified by the whole process. it truly feeds my soul.

    drama, i’ll pass on your message. i thank her at least 3 times a day.

    m, i don’t doubt it for a second. that kid will change the world. thank god.

    michelle, right back at you my friend.

    karla, you know her .. she runs circles around me, much to my delight.

  3. I agree with Denise!

    Thinking big here…Who knows? Maybe eventually, you could publish your posts in book format – there are so many who could learn and be inspired. I for one, would buy a book of your posts – and I’d give a book to everyone I know.

    But I suppose for now, you have enough on your plate 🙂

  4. Pingback: one wish « a diary of a mom

  5. It’s these posts that really absolutely inspire me. I know it’s from 3 years ago but it is something I needed to read this morning. I sometimes find myself wishing I could have a magic wand to magic away my anxiety – my depression. But then I read this – and I know that I am who I am because of these things; they do not break me, they make me – and I am so much more than both of them, also.

    I’m rambling on but I just… I am so grateful for your blog. I will be thanking you for the rest of my life for showing me what I want to do with my life. I was familiar with Autism before I stumbled here to Diary, and it had always been something I wanted to learn more about but then I found Diary and I have learned more. From you, Katie and Brooke, from Luau. I have spent countless hours for months googling and reading – clicking link after link from one blog to another you recommend and I have to tell you; when my mom looked at me with tears in her eyes and said

    “Kylie, the way you talk to me about Autism, it reminds me of the way you look at your niece. You are meant to work in that field, you are going to move mountains. I am so proud of you for the way you accept – the way you want the world to change. Thank Jess for me, from one mama to another. She has put the light back in you that burnt out a few years ago, because she shares her family and is real about the autism and has inspired my baby girl. I owe her so much.”

    — that is when I knew without a doubt, I have to figure out what steps to take to work with the Autistic community – to educate the world about Autism.

  6., just wow. Such wisdom from a seven year old, it doesn’t surprise me to see glimpses of the amazing young lady she is becoming. I needed this bit of magic this morning, thank you for sharing.

  7. I agree with just Wow! I love this.. and even though I dont know anybody with Autism, it helps remind me that my son who has ADHD is who he is because of it and I wouldnt change that for anything.

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