Every now and then, there is a moment with Janey that just couldn't be better. Those moments aren't the breakthrough moments, when she does something unexpected, necessarily. They are moments when she's herself, her autistic self, but does something, little or big, that makes us realize that in a lot of ways, she's a dream girl.
Today we had one of the little great moments. Janey came up to Tony and me and said "I want burgers". She loves Tony to make hamburgers. She's not into the bun or anything, just the plain burger. Tony had plans to go to the store right about then anyway, so he said "Daddy will get you burgers. Let's go to the store!" Janey smiled that huge smile, the smile that can melt away the memories of hours of screaming and mischief and it all, and screamed out in glee "Daddy will get you BURGERS!" Then she started literally dancing around in sheer happiness.
Tony and I both got hit hard by how wonderful it is when she's like that, when she's just plain happy, and happy with small things. He said "This is when she has it all over a lot of 8 year olds. They'd be at the age where they'd say something like 'I don't want STORE burgers! I want McDonalds! No, I want to go to Outback Steakhouse! I don't want to go to the store with you! I am hungry now!' and all that" Of course they wouldn't every single time, but we've had a couple of 8 year olds, and that can be a tough age, when they realize parents are far from perfect and are full of ideas to make them more perfect. Janey doesn't have that. She's often not happy, of course, but it's not a calculating not happy. And when she is happy, it's happiness in a pure delight form.
There's always that mean voice in my head, the voice of reason or of "don't get so excited" or whatever it might be, the voice that says somehow I shouldn't be happy about little moments like that---that I'm somehow selling her short to just be happy when she's happy, that I'm lowering my expectations, that I'm taking joy in what is her being younger acting than her age---all kinds of thoughts. And to that I say---shut up, voice of reason. I have a right to delight in Janey at times. I certainly have my share of times I don't delight in her. I don't belittle the impact her autism has on her. But accepting the great moments is not embracing the autism. It's embracing my delightful little girl, my sweetheart, the girl that sometimes is exactly the dream girl that Tony and I dreamt of so long. We love you, Janey.