Today Soren played. With a toy. Specifically, he fed a fake apple to a (fake) dinosaur. We didn't request this, reinforce this, or reward this, which usually needs to happen for any kind of play to occur. It happened spontaneously at his occupational therapy appointment.
He asked us to open the bin of dinosaur toys ("open" on his iPad), he looked at each one carefully, and he found a few favorites. Then he put a plastic apple in a toothy mouth.
When Soren had just turned one, I went to a local production of Les Miserables. He was outgrowing babyhood and predictability (no sleep!), and I was worried about how the sitter--a friend--would handle him. It was one of those classic early parenting outings in which a little nugget of attachment and concern keeps burrowing in your chest, even if you're having a great time.
When I hear songs from Les Miz now--even the big Hollywood/Anne Hathaway versions--they are transfused with the bittersweetness of Soren's babyhood. The song "Bring Him Home," in particular, delivers me straight to a chubby, bald little boy left with a sitter. The piece is sung by Valjean, begging God to save Marius from the pending onslaught and return him to his love, Cosette--Valjean's adopted daughter. I remember thinking this was the most beautiful, most parental song of the play. And in the way only music can, it took on a meaning unique to my life. I felt like it had been written just for me in that phase of my young motherhood.
I heard "Bring Him Home" again recently, amid Soren's extreme anxiety (which is cropping up again, this time sprinkled with aggression), and started weeping. To bring him "home" is my plea, too. My poor boy has bouts of angst--sobbing, wrinkling up his little expressive chin, panic in his cry. I don't know exactly what is wrong. Maybe there's no cause. Maybe it's chemical. All I know is that he is in turmoil, sad at his core, and I can't fix it. I can't find the words or the cuddling or the comfort food or the distraction to help him. It is the biggest agony I know as a parent. He is not at home.
So I bawled when I heard this piece again, because it has a whole new meaning now. Please God, bring my sweet bunny home again to where he is comfortable, comforted. Give him peace. Please. He is only a boy.
Do you know how many people are invested in Soren's life and success? It's crazy. He has fabulous teachers and assistants and speech therapists and occupational therapists and ABA therapists. And of course, phenomenal grandparents, aunts and uncles, and friends. People we've never met pray for him regularly. I never, ever doubt just how loved my Soren is.
But there's just something particularly amazing about our home ABA therapist (and former part-time nanny), Lindsay. This is her third year with us. She just gets Soren--how to relate to him, how to motivate him, how to deescalate any tantrums, how to talk to him, how to play with him. She lets him hang all over her, and he loves it. When she comes to the house, he drags her by the hand to start his work sessions with her.
But what really melts me is that Lindsay seems really to enjoy Soren; I hear her laugh and it's an authentic laugh of getting a kick out of that boy. And aside from the "results" she gets from him, it's this connection that I find even more important. He has a relationship with her, and it's mutual.
Lindsay's in her last year of college here in Seattle, and I'm already dreading the goodbye. Thank you, dear Lindsay, for seeing our boy through so much. He has been changed by your love and care.