Friday, 8 February 2013

Valentine's Day - What's love got to do with it?

Valentines day is approaching. A day for love to be declared, cards to be sent and heart shaped cookies made. It reminds me of when I first heard three little words from my daughter that made my heart sing...

Standing alone at the school side-gate, I await your exit from the boisterous school day. I acknowledge the other parents as they walk past me. Here you come, beautiful little girl of mine, carrying your oversized reading bag and wearing a determined expression which I warily recognise. Staring past me, you walk away. I long to hear your news, to have you walk beside me. I smile and see the other girls bubbling with words, tumbling along with mums, holding hands. You walk along the kerb or trail your hand along the hedge, walking your invisible line leading you to your transport. I drive, you fire questions. I answer, you scream. So much in your day has frustrated you, it all comes pouring out at me. We arrive home, you cannot leave the car. When you eventually emerge, you jump, repeatedly crying, screaming and flapping your hands. I stand beside you, walk away, kneel beside you. We are home. My beautiful, clever, talented daughter who has autism. This is your other world.

I remember vividly the steps we have taken to here. You falling over and shouting,"get away, don't touch me", the searing pain I felt inside. The Christmas morning, surprise laden table with pretty festive mats and sparkly table decorations. You reaching out your chubby toddler arm, sweeping them to the floor. "You shouldn't have done that!" became the familiar cry and inside my head screaming, "Why?" The gentle paediatrician offering me a tissue across the gap of questions, assessment, diagnostic reply. Tears tracing silently down my cheeks while you investigated the room, seemingly oblivious to my aching maternal cries.

"I love you," I say into your hair as I kiss you goodnight. You turn your face away. In the middle of the silent night you stand by my bed-side waiting for me to wake and know what is frightening you. I stir, see you and long again for three little words to come racing back to me.

Next morning in the school cloak-room as I say "goodbye", you turn to me. Placing your little hands around my ear you whisper the words I have longed to hear. "I love you." I love you too and I could sing. For all those moments when I cry inside and don't know what to do. I did get this one thing right. To keep on saying, showing, believing that you can learn what every heart needs to know. Can I shout it aloud, should I tell every stranger in the street. My six year old daughter told me three little words. Today we walked together and she gave those words back to me...

Keep singing "I love you's" over your child. Every soul needs to hear that they are loved and loved and loved...

Best wishes
Hazel Reeves

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