hangman and ice cream and way too much other stuff to fit into one post (but i did)


Oh my dear readers, I have soooo much to tell you. I don’t know where to start.

There’s some heavy stuff, but can we leave that alone today? Can we start the weekend on a high note? Cause in the middle of the heavy stuff, there’s been some really, really, really (no seriously, REALLY) amazing stuff going on around here.

I could start with the story that Luau told the other day about the girls playing Hangman on the Fourth of July. I’d been dying to tell you myself, with my own spin on it and to give you some of the background behind it and how OH MY GOD OUR GIRLS ARE  PLAYING FLIPPIN’ HANGMAN TOGETHER AT THE TABLE came to be. I really wanted to tell you how Katie and I have played it for YEARS at restaurants and how Brooke never seemed to take notice or show an interest (come closer, guys, this next part is important) but how she apparently was WATCHING and TAKING IT ALL IN l in and LEARNING even though she didn’t LOOK like she was (you see where I’m going with this, right?) because suddenly one day she said, “May I play too?” and by God she COULD and she DID and this is a kid who WOULD NOT so much as HOLD a writing implement  until close to five and who I couldn’t for the life of me fathom how we were going to teach her to read (OK, that was horrible grammar, but I’ve got like seven stories left, so there’s no time to be nitpicky) and HOLY HELL, PEOPLE she PLAYED HANGMAN WITH HER SISTER. And the words she picked? Well, icing on the cake really – P-O-O-P, K-A-T-I-E and my all time favorite, S-N-E-L-L-Y. The reason I love snelly so much is that I have no idea what it means, but it’s Brookespeak and Katie totally guessed it because well, she speaks her sister’s language. Oh, and then just to show off after Hangman ran its course, Brooke DID THE WORD SEARCH on the kid’s menu. And it was like so not a big deal, like I totally do this all the time, so yeah, like whatever. (You know, except NOT.)

So yeah, that one really deserves its own post, but I guess is going to be have to be satisfied with a really long paragraph full of absurdly run-on sentences instead. In my defense, I used a lot of capital letters, so hopefully that helps ease the blow. Moving on …

Ooh, I could totally start with the ice cream story. Oh my God, you guys, this one’s a DOOZY. (Please note, when I break out the caps lock I mean business, people.) This one had me over the moon, but I’ve been hesitant to tell it because I not only wasn’t there to witness it, but I wasn’t even there to hear the first hand retelling of it. But I totally trust Luau – well, you know, mostly – to relay what he heard, so here goes.

Last week, at the camp that hosts Brooke’s extended year program, they had Ice Cream Day. The kids were given a choice between chocolate or vanilla. Now my little princess ain’t too keen on this idea of choosing a single flavor. Her mother’s daughter, she apparently sees no point in picking just one. I find it hard to blame her.

Anyway, true to form, when her para, the awesome Yo B! asked which ice cream she was going to choose, she said, “Both.” When he went on to explain that there was not enough ice cream for the children to get both so she’d have to choose one, she said, “I will get BOTH.” (Please note, when I use caps lock, she means business, people.)

When he explained – yet again – that she needed to choose one because that was the rule today, she said, “I will get BOTH.” And so it went for some time, until finally, the utterly brilliant Yo B!, who completely GETS my kid, said, “OK, Brooke, you know what? You can get both. But if we do that, we’ll have to go into the library to eat by ourselves.” He explained that the other kids were only allowed to choose one flavor and it would make them feel sad (listen, we’re working with limited emotional identification here, people, jealous ain’t there yet) if they saw her eating both in front of them.

So our little heroine thought for a moment and said, “OK.” All right, so this isn’t the good part of the story, but it’s coming, I promise. As they walked toward the line, Brooke had an epiphany. “Actually,” she said (I so wish you could hear the way she says it – kinda like ACK-choo-uh-lleee and seriously, it’s almost unbearably cute) “I will get vanilla. I don’t want to hurt my friends’ feelings.”

And the skies opened and the seraphim sang and see, I told you Yo B! was brilliant and totally GETS my kid and holy crap on toast, can we even talk about this? How many puzzle pieces went into this kid choosing, of her own free will, to STAY WITH THE OTHER CAMPERS and to take into account their FEELINGS and to decide that HER EMPATHY for them overrode her own desire to have what she wanted and Dear God in heaven, this is HUGE people, HUGE. No theory of mind, my fat white arse. Moving on .. 

Or, I could start with one of the ‘smaller’ ones, though perhaps not smaller in import, at least in terms of word count. Like the other day when Luau was brushing Brooke’s hair and she asked him, ‘Why does your hair look different than my hair?”

Or when she asked me later that day, “How do you walk a cat?”

Or I could tell you how she ran around on a putt-putt green and declared, “I am a famous golfer!”

Oooh, or I could tell you how I asked Luau (as we headed to the beach) if he remembered to pack the beach toys and when he said, “Oh shoot, I forgot!” Brooke said, “Well that wasn’t very smart,” and we all cracked up.

Or I could tell you about how she shivered getting out of the water at pool that same day and as I pulled her onto my lap and curled her into a warm hug she said, “Mom, you take care of me sometimes.” and I nearly melted right then and there.

Or I could tell you how she keeps ordering her food in restaurants by saying, “Is that a hot dog I smell?” and how I know I really have to get her back to “May I please have .. ” but well, maybe just another week or so? Please? C’mon, it’s not hurting anybody. 

See? Now you understand, right? How on earth could I figure out where to start? I’m at a loss. Screw it, I’ll let you pick. But no matter where you start reading, promise me one thing, would ya?

I’m not going to shout this next part at you, cause I think I’ve already overused the caps lock, but please take this in, OK? This is important.

Remember that the little girl in these stories – this girl taking baby steps and quantum leaps – is coming from a place that even very recently looked very , very different.

Remember that it was here that I wrote about the very first time that she pointed at something and said “Look, Mama.” – two weeks shy of her sixth birthday.

Remember that I wrote about the very first “why” question that she asked – at six years old.

Remember that I wrote about the first time she ever asked a question with no purpose other than to initiate interaction – at five.

I could keep going (‘cept not really cause I don’t have time), but I trust that you get my point. This is a little girl who has been slowly, steadily filling her toolbox. The journey to this place sure has never remotely resembled a straight line forward – EVER. Instead it’s been a zig-zag, fraught with missteps and occasional backward slides. But nonetheless, here we are. Playing Hangman and choosing social interaction and not just showing but acting on sensitivity to others and using Why and How and words like ‘famous’ and by God, being AWARE of conversation and COMMENTING (sorry, it’s addictive) and interacting with us and her world in ways I was once convinced I’d never see.

So, anyone want to play Hangman?

_ _ _ _ _ _ _


Ed note: Babble.com is asking you to vote for your favorite autism blogs. To vote, all you have to do is hit ‘like’ next to the ones you’d like to see in their top ten. No registration, no request for any info – zip. Just a button to hit and you’re on your way. And, um, you may just see someone you recognize on there, and well, I wouldn’t get mad atcha if say, you wanted to vote for Diary. 🙂 .. Click -> HERE <- to vote. Thank you! 

47 thoughts on “hangman and ice cream and way too much other stuff to fit into one post (but i did)

  1. Mountains are made one small stone at a time. Mountains you are all making.
    It is so good to hear the joy in your “voice”.
    Love you,

  2. LOVE LOVE LOVE amazing Brooke stuff! Especially on mornings when my girl starts the day at 3 a.m. and I need some joy-in-autism-land stories to keep me focused on the good and amazing stuff. xoxo

  3. Good lord, happy days! Jess, once again, tears of understanding and the “baby steps” that some people might not get but we all sure do ! I am the “crazy” one that took a bus trip with my 6 yr old Haley from OK to NY .Was extremely nervous about it, but it actually went well . Regardless, there were a few moments here and there, but seeing her actually TALK to someone and ask their name, that’s huge! I won’t clutter up your comments with ant more, just wanted to say am right there with you in celebrating our kids. I have started a journal, and all the victories will be recorded, as well as the bad and the ugly. Remembering where our children were behaviorly even 1 or 2 year’s ago and how far they have come! It’s amazing isn’t it???

    • mary, it is not only amazing, but i’m more convinced than ever that it’s NECESSARY. 🙂 so, so glad to hear the trip went well!

  4. I’m all tingly from the excitement. The hair is still standing up on the back of my neck. These are all such wonderful things!!! As long as we’re going to be on the roller coaster, it helps if the highs are really high, and (as you said) these are ALL doozys. How wonderful for Brooke and you all. Rock on, Brooke. Empathy and word games and insightful questions. Wow!!!

    I remember the first time I realized that Jacob could be listening and taking things in without appearing to do so at all…. I had been telling his brother Ethan that we were about to leave and he needed to put his shoes on and get ready, Jake was playing in the living room, seemingly in his own little world. When Ethan was finally ready (after much nagging) and I turned to Jake, he was nowhere to be found. Turns out he was at the door, shoes and hat on, ready to go out!

    • i truly believe that our kids hear EVERYTHING, it may take minutes or days or weeks or years to process, but on some level, they’re taking it ALL in. i think sometimes it’s precisely why the intense overloads happen. everything is a lot to process 🙂

      • The trip home may be a different story, lol, but will cross that bridge when we get to it, still waiting for grandbaby to make his appearance!

  5. It goes without saying, but I’m saying it anyway, that I am over the moon with joy and happiness for you right this very minute. I have said this before, “IT” happens! And I think you know what I mean when I say “IT”.
    Oh and BTW, I will no longer eat toast the same way, as Aidan would say, “Ganks”:)

  6. This is an amazingly happy posts and it was easy to grasp your joy and excitement from all of the fantastic accomplishments of our incredible Brooke (as well as your shouts, run-on sentences, bad grammar, misspellings, etc.). They said it all. There was no way to tell us these stories of Brooke’s leaps and bounds without your words just pouring out, I’m one thrilled Grammy today.

    Love you,

    • as well as your shouts, run-on sentences, bad grammar, misspellings, etc.

      misspellings? i don’t remember saying anything about misspellings. sheesh.

  7. Holy moly and totally awesome! BTW my favorite hangman word is: hair dryer

    ps…..I voted for you twice…. ❤

    • as in a hair dryer kid in a toaster world??? (see sidebar under ‘things i wish i’d written if that doesn’t ring a bell :))

      my favorite is soup.

      and um, the spaces above represent a real word. nobody seems to want to play. 🙂

  8. My goodness. I told myself before I started reading that I wouldn’t comment today because I don’t wanna seem like a blog stalker or anything but how could I NOT comment on this. I loved everything about this post. It’s so amazing to see the progress. I really hope my family gets to this place one day. I’m so happy for her and your family. Peace & blessings!

    • “.. because I don’t wanna seem like a blog stalker or anything ..”

      i’m confused. you say that like it’s a bad thing.


  9. I love your blog Jess. I am so happy for Brooke AND for you for these huge gains. I love all your posts – the ones that make me cry (the dream about the hot tub is too real for me with a son who would hug ANYONE!). The ones that make me think and feel connected (laying down the bat) and today I am so happy for your joy. It was only a few months ago that you were checking out due to being tapped out. (I missed your posts. It is the first thing I read at 6 am because I’m on the west coast.). So even more so I am so glad for the gains. Huge gains. I have a 1 and a 3 year old on the spectrum. They played in our shower stall TOGETHER last night (my son didn’t hug or hit, by daughter tolerating his proximity) and they SHARED A LAUGH. Big gains! Huge gains that only someone like us Mom’s truly GET. BTW, I like your caps. 🙂

    • aw, thanks, lady. or should i say THANKS, LADY! lol

      and so, so happy for a moment of watery bliss. i will never, ever forget the first moment that my girls really played together. incredible.


    • oh, stick around; she’s got plenty of em. 🙂

      one of my favorites is peek-uh-buck-uh-row-thuh, which she tells me means wave. in japanese. lol

  10. That is some AWESOMELY AMAZING stuff! Brings a smile to my face/ You should be GLEAMING with joy and pride at how far she’s come!!! And you’re right, baby steps become quantum leaps. Reading this gives me so much hope. I just need to keep my patience going strong, and I know Cymbie will surprise the HECK outta me one day!! xoxoxo HUGS Have a wonderful weekend!

  11. my favorite…the story about the ice cream. The next time I go out, when the waiter approaches, I’m going to say “Do I smell lychee martinis?” 🙂

  12. Wow – the sensitivity to others, the amazing questions, playing hangman (I really had to resist the urge to use all caps on that one, on all of it, honestly) – just mindblowing. Eight was a big year for Nigel too – lots of incredible leaps. Have a great weekend! xo

  13. wow!!! my jaw would totally drop to the floor if my son chose to protect his friends’ feelings over his own desire for ice cream. UN-FREAKIN-BELIEVABLE!!!!

    Good job, Jess. All the patience and hard work is paying off. 😉

  14. HI Jess,
    I love your blog and just wanted you to know that I think your splitting your votes over at Babble.com!? It looks (to me) like you are listed twice:
    A Diary of a Mom (199 likes at the time of this reply)
    diary of a mom (74 likes)
    I want you to win (although from your post, you are already “winning” at home – and not in a creepy Charlie Sheen sort of way…)!
    Keep up the great work and thanks for giving other Moms like me out here your words to forward to others to explain what we cannot always explain for ourselves….

    • thx so much! i saw that too – not sure what to do about it, so i guess for now, vote for both? 🙂 thanks for pointing it out!

  15. Trust me, you don’t want to introduce jealous yet. One of my 9 yo campers was reading the feelings chart and saw jealous. now instead of “I’m angry.” or “I’m sad.” It’s always “Molly. I feel jealous.” Yeah… we’re working on it. He also tends to rate his day as “good” “meh” or “bad”. He’s awesome.

  16. Jess, I am totally reading your posts out of order, but… GO BROOKE! I am jumping for joy over here as not only one of Brooke’s biggest fans, but as a teacher of 2 little girls whose strides also amaze me every day. I am so proud to know so many children and families (and professionals) who work so hard and make so much progress!! Yippee!!!

  17. just fyi,
    on Babble, Diary of a Mom is listed twice. Once, as Diary of a Mom, which has 224 votes (something like that); and then listed as A Diary of a Mom, which has 80 plus votes. Really, this blog would be number one if they would fix it–do you think they can? How to ask?
    love…oh, and you got MY vote! xoxo

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