So I was having a pretty bad day yesterday. Started out with Lu throwing her almost full pediasure chocolate drink with her meds in it onto the floor with a smash, splashing the milkshaky stuff all over her and Myffy and me just when I was about to put them into the car. I didn't shout directly at her, but I made a bit of a stifled "Aaarrgh" sound. They both had to be bathed, hair had to be washed, clothes had to be rinsed out, new clothes had to be put on, hair brushed, shoes and socks back on, and on, and on.
Then just when I was fastening Myffy into her car seat, Lu made a break for it, squeezed out through the dog door, ran across the porch and out the gate I left open for the dog. I ran, grabbed her and lifted her back through the gate, but left my left heel within the gate swing for just a moment too long. Aaarrgh!!! Much louder this time. It closed and scraped the skin right off the back of my heel, soaking my sock with blood, wetting my shoe. I yelled so loud poor Lu looked really scared this time and started to cry. Then I got them both in the car, strapped into the car seats and went back to the house to get the rest of our stuff. I put Lu's lunch box and back pack on top of the therapy box (this holds all the binders of data sheets, procedures, toys for procedures, etc.) along with one of the diaper bags and headed to the car. On the way I misstepped on a paving stone, twisted my ankle, collapsed to the ground and threw everything I was holding into the dust. It hurt. I yelled again. And mostly out of frustration, I teared up a bit. Both ankles hurt now. I didn't know which way to limp. Does it really have to be this hard to leave the house in the morning?
I felt bad for yelling and scaring Lu. I hate it when I do something stupid like that. Her little face looked so frightened. When I dropped her off at school she started crying again. So far this year her drop offs haven't been too bad. But this day she just didn't want me to leave her. Myffy was in the stroller and started crying too. I hate leaving her when she's so upset.
After school Nima came over for a couple of respite hours in the afternoon. I was trying to pay bills, balance checkbooks and upload videos. Lu didn't like me being upstairs when she was down stairs. She was upset. It just wasn't working. I came down after a bit, dressed her in her pink tutu swim suit and Nima filled up the kiddie pool in the back yard. Lu said she needed potty (awesome as we're still working on potty training). I took her. She did. So I said good girl and sang her the potty song. And when we were done washing hands she held her arms out so I knelt down, gave her a big huge hug and said "I love you."
I say this to Lu a lot. Sometimes she hugs me when I say it. Sometimes she puts her cheek out for a kiss. Sometimes she ignores it completely. The one thing she has never, ever done before is say it back. Yesterday she said it back. Loud and clear enough for Nima to hear it through the open door, Tallulah said "I love you." My heart swelled up so big I thought it was going to burst.
I wasn't sure if I would ever hear those words from Lu. It's one of those things you read about autistic children, that they never say it, never express it, but here she was doing it, saying it, smiling! And I guess you could suggest that she might just have been echoing my words back to me (echolalia is a phase a lot of autistic kids go through as they become verbal), but I don't really think so. She looked right at me and smiled. Like she knew what it meant. Or at least had an idea. And she didn't have to say it. She's not said it so many times before. But whatever the reason, it is what it is. My daughter said she loves me. Oh my little Lu, I love you too.