Sally Cat showed up today. She does, now and then, I guess when I am in need of a good cry. She is a pink stuffed cat that meows when you push on her. She was bought when Janey was 2, on a trip to the Gap. Janey asked for her, and although she needed a new stuffed animal not at all, I could tell it would be a battle not to get her, so I gave in. One of the many things about Sally that makes me cry is that that was probably the last time Janey ever asked for a toy in a store. I wish I had bought her with enthusiasm.
Janey loved Sally, for a brief period---probably about four months. She named her herself, when I asked her the name. I don't know where she came up with Sally, but at the time, I didn't wonder that much, as you know two year old---going through that language explosion and saying all kinds of things. We took Sally everywhere we went, and she was part of the family, as kids that age get with a favorite toy animal. Then came the summer of 2007, and the horrible regression. By the end of the summer, Janey no longer had any interest in Sally. She couldn't say her name, or much of anything else.
I showed Sally to Janey today, and kind of hoped for a miracle. I don't do that a lot. And I didn't get one. Janey did her not-look looking at her and tossed her aside. I said "This is Sally! You used to love Sally!" No answer, no recognition that she had heard me. Par for the course.
I don't think much about Janey's first 3 years. I can't. I just can't. If I do, it's too hard. I tend to remember only the early signs something was wrong, and not the little girl who talked well, when she wanted to. I think, though, sometimes, about the last visit from the PT who saw Janey in Early Intervention, before they discharged her, saying she no longer needed services. The PT was great. She said "Please always stay in touch with me. Janey is so bright and talks so much! I can't wait to see how she does at school!" I never called her. I never could bring myself to. I didn't want to see or hear her shock. It's easier sometimes to pretend that Janey never existed. It makes acceptance easier, and I do accept Janey as she is now. Of course, she is the same person she was then, but sometimes, somehow, it's easier to almost pretend she isn't. I have heard that the notion of changelings might come from autistic kids in the past that regressed, and I can see why. It's like someone came and took one Janey and replaced her with another, identical looking Janey.
But I won't write about that any more right now. Even writing about it is too hard. I put Sally away, where I won't see her for a while. I would never get rid of her. She's a keepsake of a time that I do accept isn't coming back. Sometimes, when I see parents in stores exasperated at their kids for asking for every toy they see, I almost want to tell them the story of Sally, and tell them---buy the toys. Buy them, because you never know.