We had another funny little moment yesterday, a moment that is uniquely autistic, but no less endearing.
I believe I've mentioned this before, but Caleb has a thing for letters. Yet again, as criteria goes, it's a tricky thing, these letters - medically, he is not officially "fixated," but he comes darn close. He does not stare at them for hours, or line them up, or refuse to play with other toys in favor of them. They're just his favorite thing. Ever.
On my good days, I liken it to a typical 2-year old having a favorite bear, or toy TV character. You know, the little boy who refuses to part with his Toy Story Woody, or the girl who just can't leave home without...whatever little girls won't leave home without. What do I know? I have all boys and barely remember that I myself am a girl, some days.
On my bad days, I worry.
While most 2-year olds chatter happily about what they did in school that day when being picked up, mine is focused on pointing out the "R" on the nearby sign to me. He's always very good about engaging me - his little eyes stare in to mine, WILLING me to share his excitement in the letter "O" he has discovered lying on the kitchen table in a stack of mail. He even points, his small and adorably chubby finger almost demanding in its insistence.
For the most part, the letter thing doesn't pose too much of a problem. He can be redirected, distracted, engaged in a toy or with playing with his brother, and is content. Some days, though, I just have to accept the fact that yes, he is capable of telling his sitter "bye" in the evening, but he will not do so until I acknowledge that yes, baby, I know you have sighted a B. It's a very nice B, as a matter of fact.
Once given his due, he happily chirps his "bye bye" and we go along our merry way.
There are also days I just have to outright laugh at the situation. Case in point:
We are driving home after being picked up from therapy. Caleb has said goodbye to his therapists, been loaded into his car seat, and managed to stealthily remove one shoe and sock (I say stealthily, but as he has taken to narrating these types of things in his abbreviated way, I may have pretended I didn't know, for his benefit). I stop at a red light, and turn around to enjoy a minute of engagement with just him, no one else. With our hectic schedule, these moments must be seized and savored. I smile, make a goofy face. "Hey, baby," I say.
He smiles back, and something in the movement of his head makes him catch it.
There is a label - a WARNING label - surgically attached to the head rest of his car seat. The same car seat, incidentally, that he has been riding in for over a year now, just about every day. For whatever reason, the label has heretofore gone unnoticed. And present in that label? That's right - letters.
The look on his face is priceless. I wished, in that moment, that I could bottle it, tuck it away to relive and giggle over again and again, later. It is a look of stunned amazement, and for a moment, he is at a complete loss. I can see his mind churning, processing what he sees, working through what to do first. Finally, he settles on shooting me a look that clearly says, "WHERE HAVE THESE BEEN, AND WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME THEY WERE HERE?" Then, switching gears rapidly, he tumbles into excitement, nearly running out of oxygen before he can remember to take a deep breath before bursting out in a jubilant refrain, "W! W! W!"
For the first time in a while, I let go of the niggling worry, and let myself enjoy the sound of a letter - and I laughed all the way home.