|Love is so much more than just words.|
There are three words that every parent looks forward to hearing their child say.
“I love you.”
It took Ben a long time to finally say those words.
However, even before he said the words, I knew the love was there. I knew it by the way he would cuddle up to me and put his hand it mine. I saw it in his face that lit up when I’d pick him up from school. It was in the way his preschool teachers would tell me that starting in the afternoon, he’d stand by the window and watch for my car to come. My mom always says that I am the sun, the moon, and stars to that boy.
I know that some parents of children on the spectrum may never hear their child say the words “I love you.” They may have children who resist being cuddled and held because human contact physically hurts. But the love is still there. Each child has his own special way of showing that love. You just have to know where to look.
I have never forced him to say the words “I love you.” I never wanted a hollow, parroted repetition of the words. I wanted the words to be genuine and real. And so, when the words finally came, they were special.
As Ben’s language has grown, he has begun expressing his love to me in lots of different ways. Sometimes he’ll say things like, “I love you a quayette (Ben’s fictitious word meaning an amount greater than infinity). And even Dad.”
But I’ve also noticed that Ben frequently tells me he loves me after I do something that helps to make life a little less overwhelming for him.
The other morning, we were running late for school. I was trying to get out the door within the magic window of time between 6:45 and 7 am. After 7 am, I know that I’m going to get stuck in the bridge traffic heading into the town where I work. Those of you who live in my town can relate. On that morning, Ben was having trouble with his socks. He couldn’t get seams to line up right. I stopped my mad dash around the house, sat down next to him, and gently helped him to straighten those seams.
“How does that feel, buddy?” I asked.
“Better,” he answered.
“Guess what?” he asked.
“What?” I asked, preparing for one of his many questions.
“I love you!” he said. No matter how many times he tells me, I am always blown away.
Whenever Ben tells me that he loves me in public places, people always think it’s cute and sweet.
But I know it’s so much more than simply a child expressing his affection for his mamma.
I know it’s my child saying thank you.
Thank you for seeing me for me.
Thank you for recognizing my moment of need and taking the time to help me through it.
Thank you for never, ever giving up on me, even when it’s been hard.
Thank you for always being by my side. I know I can always count on you.
That is what I believe Ben means when he tells me that he loves me.
And guess what, buddy. I love you too. I love you a quayette and beyond.