To the child who’s stranger appears after 6 years of silence and calls himself Dad when the family you have learned to call Mom and Dad and who bought you that new swingset were getting ready to have your last name too: I understand that you can’t seem to verbalize the flood of confusion, hurt, and fear you feel and I promise to knock over the blocks with you and look the other way when you yell at the ball as you kick it repetitively into the wall. I also will never judge you for wetting your pants because your Dad’s face reminds you of a past you couldn’t be saved from in time enough to protect you from the hurts.
To the child who’s Daddy hurts his Mommy and all you can think to repeat during play is “Run, he’s coming!” And as Mommy pretends to understand Daddy’s English while she secretly plans to leave the country with you and return to your big family, I completely understand why you are running out of the room more and shrieking without consoling. I promise to run after you in reminder to you that you matter enough to me to pursue, and to speak back to you in movie quotes and song lyrics because your Autism reverts to that familiarity.
To the child who is sad because “Mommy forgot” again to feed you and you are wearing the same shirt from yesterday. I understand when you need to scream about your belly hurting, even when your screaming looks like cussing at me and trying to kick me. I promise to always have breakfast and to pursue you with that breakfast because I want you to know that it matters to me that your belly needs a “morning snack.” And I also promise to sit with you and read stories to you as you rest on the couch because you “didn’t sleep well.”
And to the other five children in my group and those across the hall that also join my group, I promise to find out what you are looking for and what it is that you are trying to say through your kicking, hitting, screaming, scratching and biting – even when you are doing those things to yourself.
And to the baby girl that I am leaving “at home” to tend to these others…
i miss you.
and thank you for letting me hold you close as I remove my work shoes.