Haydn doesn’t say “I love you.”
Most days, this is the least of my worries when it comes to raising a child with Autism and Tourette’s Syndrome. Meltdowns, diet, sensory input, learning to breathe through soaring frustration levels… those are my big daily battles. But the “I love you” thing is definitely there, on the list of hard parts.
Haydn doesn’t understand the need to tell people he loves them. He figures we already know that. I say, “I love you, Haydn,” and he might say, “me too,” or “okay,” or nothing at all. He doesn’t roll his eyes or act like I’m stupid for saying I love him, but he doesn’t see the point in saying it back either. He doesn’t understand why I keep telling him this thing that he already knows.
I was thinking, earlier this week, about my sons and their differences. Driving away from a parent-teacher conference at David’s school, David said, “You know I love you right?” This is something I say to the kids, and here he was saying it back to me. It was really sweet. David has no issue with emotion-expressing or verbal communication. He tells me he loves me all the time.
I tried to remember the last time Haydn said he loved me. Verbally, I honestly can’t remember. It was years ago, I think. I have a dim memory of telling Corey, “Haydn said he loved me.” Then, it hit me… Haydn said he loved me just two weeks ago. He didn’t use those words, but he told me just the same.
First, some background information: Haydn and I watch Doctor Who together. Rose is my favorite companion, and Haydn knows that. As a matter of fact, Martha bored me so badly, I couldn’t pay attention, so Haydn watched those by himself and promised to let me know when Martha was finished and a new companion came onboard the TARDIS. He was taking one for the team, so to speak.
I was upstairs folding laundry when I heard Haydn barreling up the stairs, shouting for me to “come quick.” I thought something was wrong, but he was smiling, holding the remote in his hand, motioning for me to hurry up. As I followed him down the stairs, he said, “It’s Rose!” And, sure enough, when we made it to the living room, there on the TV screen was Rose Tyler. He’d paused the show perfectly. She just did a walk-on role for that episode, but as soon as he saw her, he hit pause and ran to find me.
Most people would have looked at that screen and seen a young blonde girl, pretty in an unconventional way. I looked at Rose Tyler and very clearly heard my son saying, “I love you, Mom.”
He saved Rose for me. Because he loves me.
I love you too, Haydn. I love you too.