In some ways, The Care Bears have come along for much of Janey's journey through autism so far. She loved them starting at a very young age, long before she'd ever seen the show. Somehow, we had gotten her a few of the bears, and I can remember her at 1 and 2 carrying them around, and learning the names of a lot of them. I would sometimes take her to the toy store to get a new one, and she would pick out the one she wanted, and be excited about it. At the time of our cross-country trip, during which she turned 3, she loved them most of all. We must have had about 10 of them in the car with us. She watched "The Care Bears Movie" on a small DVD player she held in the car. When she had her birthday while we were in Olympia with family, my grandmother wanted to get her something special, and I suggested a Care Bear. I remember picking out Grumpy Bear, a bear she had wanted but we hadn't been able to find. I was a little surprised she wasn't more excited upwrapping it.
That birthday always seems like a dividing line to me. On the way home across the country, Janey was less interested in the Care Bears. By the time she started preschool a month later, autism had fully gripped her. She had little interest in the Bears, or anything else.
Since then, she has been off and on about watching the videos, but never again interested in the stuffed animals. We had some old episodes of the TV show that came with bears I bought, and she got into watching those for a while. There used to be a movie on Netflix, Journey to Joke-A-Lot, that featured the bears and that she watched a lot. But her interest was narrow. She liked the shows, and reciting from the shows, but she didn't know the bears apart, or care about them much, I don't think.
Lately, she started asking for the Care Bears Movie. For days, she wanted to watch it, but could only stand the first few minutes. When it got to the opening credits even, she would scream and cry. But then a few minutes later, she'd ask for it again. Although it was frustrating and inexplicable to us, we bore with her. Over this long weekend, gradually she started watching more and more of it. Today, she's watched the whole thing intently several times, and seems to have memorized much of it. She says the lines before they come on.
I wonder if she can remember how she used to love the movie long ago. I don't think it's the case, but I wonder if she felt upset about that memory when first seeing the movie again after the long years. Did she somehow realize that she wasn't the same now? Did she feel it was important to be able to watch it again? I'm probably thinking wistfully here. I don't think Janey has thoughts of that complexity. But it's making me cry to think of. Maybe it's a good sign she's getting the interest back. She's very happy watching it tonight. Who knows what goes on in her mind? I wish I did.