shared enjoyment


Nantucket, 2012


It’s Sunday afternoon. Desperate to escape the heat, we venture out to the Rainforest Cafe for a late lunch. After we eat, the girls and I wander around the gift shop.

Katie immediately points to something. “Mama!” she shouts, “check this out!” As I turn to look at what she wants to show me, Brooke yells, “Look, Mom!” and I instinctively turn to look in her direction. Katie grimaces, “Mama,” she says “you didn’t look. This is really cool.” As I turn back to her again, Brooke taps my arm. “Mama,” she says, shoving a rubber snake under my nose, “look at this.”

Completely overwhelmed by their simultaneous demands on my attention, I take a deep breath.

And then I start to laugh.


March 12, 2009

“Look, Mama!”

I follow the little arm to the very end of an outstretched finger. I look into the distance to see what she is pointing at.

“What do you see, baby girl?”

I am nearly breathless.

“I see the blue house.”

I can barely contain myself.

“I see it too, Brooke! Yes! The house (which was actually a small industrial looking building) is blue! Thank you so much for showing it to me!”

She is three weeks shy of six years old.

“Look, Mama!”

The words play again and again in my ears like a sweet, rhapsodic concerto.

I think back to that first evaluation.

The doctor said, “She lacks shared enjoyment.”

I’d never heard the phrase before, but the truth in the words was painfully obvious.

“She does not point to objects or seek to engage others in any type of cooperative play. She does not share observations about her surroundings as would a typically developing child.”

OK, so it took nearly six years. Brooke has never claimed to be on anyone’s schedule but her own.

But there it was.

No prompts.

No prodding nor urging nor cajoling.

Just a blue house.

An outstretched finger.

And an overjoyed Mama.


Four and a half years later, standing in the middle of the gift shop in a friggin Rainforest Cafe, I am laughing so hard I can’t breathe.

Unfazed, my girls continue to pull me in different directions, fighting for my attention.

Mama, look!

Mama, check this out!

I implore them to take turns. I ask them to wait. I ooh and ahh (and eww) over their finds.

And I laugh some more as I pull them close for the split second that they’ll allow and then, with all my being, I celebrate being a mom in a shop at her wit’s end because her kids are tripping over each other to share with her what they see.

16 thoughts on “shared enjoyment

  1. It all comes back. All the time, the love, the sharing, the caring, the respect….it all comes back forever, and you should enjoy it as it is well deserved.

  2. Not that I would EVER wish that any family would have a child that struggles…. Oh, but, how I wish they could know how what they sometimes take for granted or get annoyed by, we celebrate!! Small joys!! Very blessed!!

  3. Amazing!! Cant wait! ! My girl recently ..finally calls me “mommy!!!” From another room. When I get there and say “what?” She is still not sure what she wanted me for…but she did want me and was able to tell me!!!! 🙂

  4. I love when you write about these moments. These I can totally relate to. I often think back on your time at the pool when the other mom commented on how hearing her kids call to her all the time was annoying but that’s what you were longing for.

  5. My daughter has been doing this more and more recently. At the movies last week she kept looking at me when there was a funny scene to make sure I’d seen it. It’s a huge change from just a couple of years ago. Also – I wanted to tell you that we started using pinky hugs and she loves them. Her new variation is rollercoaster pinky hug which involves shaking our arms up and down. Thought I’d pass that on as I know Brooke loves rollercoasters.

  6. Wow. Not only for the shared enjoyment, but for the fact that the Rainforest Cafe is even an OPTION for you guys. The noise and lights and scenery are overwhelming for ME, much less for my boy. You may not even have thought about that as a win, but I do!

  7. What a sweet story! I hope to be able to tell a similar one someday, as my eldest son “lacks shared enjoyment” too. (I made a side eye and sighed when I read your title, ha.) It is so frustrating/sad when you learn that your child can’t/doesn’t do something so “simple”.

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