This little nugget of wisdomly wisdom came lilting from the backseat of my car one day.
Me: But, Dagney, you don’t even like pickles…
Dagney: **smiles in a way that conveys that I am somehow missing something**
Me: Hmmm…well, I do like pickles. And, you’re right, life’s definitely not all pickles and rainbows.
This followed a conversation we had about Hank, autism, being different. It made me wonder if she already realizes, just a little bit, how much Hank’s autism is bound to effect her life…how much it already has.
I know that she loves her brother. There have been times that I have wondered about her true feelings. In my most pathetic moments, I have come right out and asked her, “You love your brother, right?” She always answers in the affirmative. However, it’s the unsolicited statements of love that are more convincing. I got out of the shower one morning to find “I love Hank!” written in the steam on the mirror. Other times, she will just blurt it out along with “I love mama!” and “I love daddy!” She gets excited when Hank gives her a hug, which doesn’t happen very often. It makes me sad and happy at the same time. It’s an emotional limbo that I have become resigned to, if not comfortable in.
I know that she longs for a normal sibling. She wants another brother or sister. One that will play with her. I long for that for her, but it’s just not practical. I only ever wanted two children. But now…if I was a bit younger…if we were more financially set…if we had a bigger house…if, if, if…I would do my best to give her that normal sibling experience. A little while back, I thought I was pregnant. It turned out that I was not, and I mourned that little life that blipped in and out of existence, if only in my mind. I mourned the loss of that chance for Dagney to have normal sibling interaction. I regretted the loss of that chance for it to not all be on her small shoulders one day.
She loves him. Despite the fact that he raids her closet for her clothes hangers. Despite the fact that he blows through her room like a miniature tornado. Despite the fact that we don’t always get to go and do things that many families do with ease. Despite the fact that she has to explain him to her friends. Hopefully, her sibling experience will teach her so many of the good lessons in life…tolerance, understanding, hope, patience, humor, love. I see all of these attributes blooming in her already. Some of them more than others. Hopefully, we can avoid the thorns and pitfalls…bitterness, jealousy, hate.
“Life’s not all pickles and rainbows.”
Maybe Hank is the pickle. Maybe autism is the pickle. Maybe it’s one of those sweet pickles, so that if you have to eat a pickle, it’s the best possible pickle. Maybe I am giving her too much credit, and she was just talking nonsense to mess with me.
Maybe I will have a turkey sandwich for lunch. With pickles. The sweet ones.