Janey came home from school with one thought in her head "I need a chocolate bunny". It's the season for bunnies, and Janey is a huge fan. So, since the weather is finally better and it's not impossible to drive, I decided to surprise her with a "yes", and we jumped in the car for the short ride to the "bunny store" (the Rite-Aid) On getting back from that little trip, I thought about all the ways Janey had delighted me in that brief time, all the things she had done that make me love her so much. Let me count the ways...
1. The love of chocolate bunnies (and Kipper and jumping and bacon and Auntie Carrie and the Beatles and chocolate milk and so many things). Janey loves the things she loves with a passion.
4. Her ability to surprise me all the time. After getting the meal, Janey again broke into song, this time with "Paperback Writer", from her current Beatlemania. I never know what she's going to sing next, and I love that.
5. Her enthusiasm for life. As we walked in with the meal, she was literally dancing around with excitement. I love it that something as small as a fast food meal can make her that happy.
6. The times she shows her typical preteen nature. This morning, as every day this week, we had to wake her up for school in the morning, due to the time change. She was not pleased, and gave us that look that says "I wish you were both out of my life" and pulled the covers back over her with defiance. These times aren't autism meltdowns, they are just Janey showing she is pretty much like any kid who hates being woken up.
Life with Janey isn't easy, much of the time. But it's always surprising. It's always full of life. It's always interesting. She's a pretty cool person. We've learned, now that we are on our third child, that children are who they are. This is independent of autism, or of IQ, or of parenting. They are born to be who they are. Janey has traits that we are starting to see more and more which are just Janey. Some of them are frustrating traits. She's stubborn, she has a quick temper, she is easily bored. But all of her traits, the ones that we delight in and the ones that can drive us crazy, are part of her. Not part of autism---autism doesn't change her personality. It changes how she can express it, it changes how she interacts with the world, it changes her past and present and future plans and possibilities, but it doesn't change who she is. And who she is is pretty cool.