Bedtime, last night
“OK, baby,” I say. “It’s time for Mama to go. Let’s pick a number.”
She smiles at me, her mischievous grin glowing in the pale light from the fish tank.
“One million gajillion!” she says.
Her delivery is priceless. I laugh out loud.
“Could ya tap that many?” she asks.
“Hmm, I think we can do that,” I say, taking her hand in mine. We bounce our hands together on the comforter as I say, “One, two skip a few, three four skip some more, ninety-nine one hundred million gagillion!”
She dissolves into delicious laughter.
“OK, lovey, you want Heavy?”
“Yeah,” she answers, though I’m already pulling the weighted blanket up and over her, covering her in baby pink polka dots.
“And Soft?” I ask next, though we both know the answer. This is what we do.
“Yeah,” she says as I pull the hot pink fleece up over the weighted blanket and tuck it under her chin.
“But wait!” she says. “Could you go get the Pubbies and then come back?”
Not one of these nights.
I’m so not up for putting out an APB on the damn Teletubbies – searching the house, tearing the place upside down trying to find the one thing that she has decided that she simply Can. Not. Sleep. Without.
I see images of Luau and I moving furniture – 1,2,3 Lift! as we pick up her four poster bed and move it just enough to reach what may or may not be wedged behind it. I see the whole family sweeping each room, calling out, “Nothing here, any luck by you?” I see Brooke in tears. I’ve seen this movie too many times before.
I dread the answer, but I have to try.
I’ve always asked the question – every time. It’s what we do.
“Brooke, honey, do you know where the Pubbies are?”
She peers out from under Heavy and Soft. And without hesitation she says, “They’re in the chair of the computer. Could you get them and then come back?”
I stammer, “Um, of course I can. I .. um .. I’ll be right back.”
I run down to the office, nearly breathless. And there they are, piled on the desk chair, waiting to be picked up. I scoop them up and run back upstairs to deposit them with my girl, who hugs each and every one of them, then tucks Laa-Laa under her arm as she says, “I love them.”
I have no words for this process – this forward motion. These baby steps – so small sometimes as to seem imperceptible – that one day turn into quantum leaps, depositing us in a place we barely recognize. A place in which my kid knows where she left her Teletubbies, can tell me and ask me to bring them to her. That place.
Years ago, I read a post on the Autism Speaks Website, In Their Own Words. In that post, the mother of a pre-verbal teenage son wrote the following:
“We must pray for miracles, work like crazy for miracles, expect and demand miracles, and for goodness sake, we must see them for what they are when they happen.”
I hugged my girl one last time before leaving her room. I whispered in her ear, “I am so proud of you, baby. You’re an incredible kid,” I kissed her cheek and I walked out – knowing that in this week of miracles, I’d just witnessed (yet another) one.