I've read there's lots of gold in seawater. It's there, but it would be very, very hard to separate it from the water. Do we look at the sparkling ocean and think "Wow, it's so beautiful because of the valuable gold it contains?" I don't think most people do. They love the ocean for other reasons. Lately, I've been thinking about this a lot as a metaphor for Janey's brain. I think there are amazing things inside her brain. I think she has ideas, music, opinions, sassy backtalk, arguments, words of love and all the other parts of a child's personality that they share with us when they talk. But getting all that out? Sometimes it's like getting gold out of ocean water. To carry the metaphor further, I don't want Janey to be valued for what might be in her mind. I want her to be valued for what she is right now.
But what if we could figure out a good method to get the gold out of the water, effectively and safely? That would be great. I'd go for it. But say I tried and it didn't work. Would I think devalue the seawater? Would I think less of its beauty, and value, and usefulness? I hope not.
I would dearly love Janey to be able to better communicate. I dream of it. I long for it. But over the years, she has made very little progress in this way. This was brought home to me today as I prepared for an appointment we had this morning to start the process of Janey being followed by the autism team at a big hospital. I was looking over reports and IEPs and notes from years back, and I was struck hard by how I think Janey talked more at 4, a year after her big regression, than she does now. Her talking ebbs and flows, but it can in no way be seen as a graph going up. She isn't talking more as she gets older. I don't think if she ever will. This is despite lots of speech therapy, great teaching, Tony and my and the boys efforts, ABA, an iPad, everything we can think of. There's a good chance we will never, ever hear the great things I believe are in her mind. They may stay locked in there forever, at times letting us have a little glimpse of the treasure, but for the most part, inaccessible.
I want the world to value Janey just as she is. But the biggest battle I have is with myself. I need to truly accept Janey as she is. I'd like to think I do that, but sometimes, I go beyond just hope to pushing, to probably letting Janey know that I wish she would talk more. For example, last night Freddy was quizzing me on things he'd learned in school. For fun, he quizzed Janey too, asking her to tell him a number. We didn't expect an answer, but she piped up "Like, four?" I was thrilled, and praised her highly. I then started asking her lots more things, I guess trying to strike while the iron was hot---asking her to tell me a letter, to point to her brother, to tell me a shape, to spell her name, to give me the names of the cats----none of which she answered. And as I watched her face, it turned from happy to confused to blank. She tuned out. I am sure I showed that I was thrilled by that glimpse of the gold in the seawater. Do I act as excited when she claps along to her favorite bluegrass music? Do I praise her for dancing around, for smiling, for just being herself? I need to. I need to show her that she is valuable not just for her potential, for what she might be have locked away and lost the key for, but also for who she is, right now.