Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Answered Question

Yesterday, I waited in the car with Janey while Tony picked up some books that were on hold at the library.  I had Tony's phone, and to keep Janey happy, I asked "What song do you want to hear?"  And she answered.  She said, right away without a pause, "Lady Madonna"

If you knew how rare that kind of answer is with Janey, you'd know how very, very happy it made me.  You might rightly ask "Then why do you ask the question, if she doesn't answer?"  Well, lots of reasons.  Even if she doesn't answer, it can often start a dialogue.  The usual result would be her repeating "What song do you want to hear?", which would lead to me making some suggestions, which then leads to her repeating back one of the songs I said.  Then, I put it on and either it makes her happy or freaks her out.  If it freaks her out, sometimes she'll then say or give a clue what song she does want, or use the feature that shows related videos or songs to pick one she likes.

Often, though, I just ask because it's very hard not to.  For a while, I decided I would try not to ask Janey questions.  It felt like something I should try, since she so rarely answered and I wondered if just being asked felt like pressure to her.  I wrote about trying do that here.  I tried for a while, and then the trying just kind of died a natural death.  I generally am not a fan of doing anything with Janey that feels artificial, forced, and that did.  So I kept asking.

The biggest reason I ask is that I hope for answers.  I want more than almost anything on earth to really know what Janey wants, what she likes and doesn't like, what delights or confuses or scares or excites her.  I want to understand her, to know who she is, so I can make her life as much one that she enjoys living as I can.  And that is why getting a direct answer from her meant so much to me.

I found "Lady Madonna" on YouTube and played it.  Janey didn't respond much.  Usually if she likes a song, she gets very excited and flops her arms around and smiles and laughs.  She didn't at this one.  I later realized that I might not have checked well in my excitement and it might have been a cover version, as there are few Beatles videos on YouTube.  Or maybe she just wanted to hear it for some reason other than that she loved it.  I certainly sometimes listen to music I don't love, to hear the lyrics or understand the style or expand my horizons.

I have a feeling, a hopeful feeling I almost hate to mention for fear of a jinx, that we are close to a new era with Janey.  I feel like she's on the edge of breaking through, of showing us more of who she is, of communicating more.  I'm not sure why I think that, besides little things like the answered question.  But I was thinking today how teenagers, for better or worse, tend to come into themselves, to know what they like and don't like, and they aren't shy about letting people know, usually.  And Janey is within a year of her teenage years.  With all the talk about how crucial the early years are for kids like Janey, I think it's sometimes lost that a lot of kids get easier as they get older.  Maybe "easier" isn't the right word.  I don't want it to be just that it's easier for me, for us.  I want her to be happier, and maybe I should say a lot of kids seem to get happier as they get older.  So far, puberty doesn't seem to be tormenting Janey much.  Overall, she is happier than at any other time in her life.  Not every single minute or hour or day, of course, but overall.  And I hope the answered questions help, and keep on coming.  They are wonderful.

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