There are moments, when my daughter is playing, brief flashes, as she repeats the same string of words while rocking, or when she is singularly concerned with the order of objects in her view, or when she has a predetermined course for her body to follow that is not quite efficient…
Of the child I might have had.
And I’ll spoil the narrative early. I don’t mean the child I might have had, had she been a different person. Had she been not autistic…
I mean the child I might have had, had I been a different person.
In these flashes, when she’s spinning, or running a repetitive jumping sequence across multiple precarious obstacles, or silently arranging objects despite my repitoire of gentle to stern objections….
In these flashes I imagine before me a cluster of alternate realities. A burst of Theory of Alternate Minds. Alternate existences in which I am hurt by her play. Upsidedown dimensions where stretches of mutism and gaze avoidance are perceived as things done at me. A topsy turvy dream where I place a hand on the crown of her head, and feel an empty shell beneath me.
And I shudder.
Because I do not live in those spaces. But some of you do.
Gratefully, my child’s head presses firmly against my palm. And I am reminded of the mind I actually have. And the reality I actually live. My child is no shell. The light of life whips in frothy tendrils from her head, pierces forth from her distant gazes. Always bursting through the curve of her arms in the air and the arc of her body though space. Condensing and solidifying in the weight of her silences.
And it is in these moments, her world so full that speech is simply inadequate, or stillness simply not possible, that I know she is most alive.
And I am so glad
That this is the child I have.