Tonight, as Miss Maya was getting ready to head up to bed, her mother told her to go give everyone their "goodnight squeeze" -a ritual we have been practicing for some time now. Usually, Maya goes up to her Dad, sister Kate, if she still happens to be downstairs at the time and to me - reaches out to each one of us and gives us a bit of a hug but we are expected to give her a big hug - or big squeeze. Occasionally things don't go smooth as glass if she happens not to quite be in the mood to go to bed and she gets a little obnoxious on those occasions but they don't happen with any degree of frequency. Thankfully!
Tonight though, when she gave her mother (Mandy) the hug and got the return squeeze, she added something into the procedure by actually giving Mandy a kiss and saying "I love you." Ok, you all have to know this was met with a lot of wet eyes to have Maya express herself that openly. When she came to me, Mandy asked her if she had anything to tell Gram and she came back to give me a second hug, voiced that sentence again and then, even gave me a "for real" kiss - not just the "blow kisses" part of the routine.
Things like this - little things that most four-year-olds do without a second thought - are so spectacular to us for many reasons. One is of course, because it is so sweet to have a little one showing love in that manner. But, when that certain little one for the bulk of her life since she has been big enough to at least blow kisses or give hugs has generally been a bit standoffish I suppose you could say. Showing that kind of emotion with Maya has been a long -and I do mean a loooonnnggg time in coming about! Autistic kids are often said to be very self-involved, not able or willing to display feelings, emotion towards others -lacking in empathy at times and it worried me if Maya was going to be that way as slow as she had been to showing affection.
But you know, the past two weeks have seen several new things -the break through with the potty training (Oh thank you Lord for that partial blessing), more vocabulary, her displays of humor mixed in with orneriness too and now, this much affection being shown and spoken too - it's just fantastic to see these changes in her coming so quickly that it seems there is a new one every day that we see, that we really notice.
And you know - you have to know and understand then how grateful, how thankful I am to have seen all these changes and especially this latest one tonight.
Such a little thing - a hug or squeeze, a kiss and three little words - just means the world to me, to all of us here and for those little things that keep coming so quickly now, Lord I am ever so very thankful.