I'm raising a very challenging 15-year old. I know that's not unusual, since all 15-year olds throughout the history of the world (with the rare exception of this author) have been a challenge. But mine is a bit different than most, because we're raising a child with autism who doesn't speak and gets frustrated very easily. Again, the polar opposite of his father.
Anyway, I was driving him home after school today and we were having our usual one-sided conversation. "How was school today, Zachary? Did you learn anything? Did you go for a walk? Were you good for your teachers? Did you make any friends?" Silence.
"You know what? Daddy loves you very much." At this, he made the "please" sign by rubbing his hand on his chest. I'm not exactly sure what the sign for "please" is, but that's what he's learned. For him, it's come to symbolize not only "please," but also "yes" and "will you give me what I want?" Of course, I took it to heart. He was saying "I love you back" in the only way he knows how. That did it. I decided to take him out for french fries.
He and I hadn't been out together for a fast food break in ages. He loves fries. So I pulled into a fast food restaurant, but he was eying his favorite restaurant across the street. "Is this okay?" I asked him. He didn't seem happy. "Do you want to go to (insert name of restaurant which must not be mentioned)?" He took my hand and placed it gently on the gearshift. I took the hint, and we went across the street. I pulled in his favorite place and asked, "Is this okay?" I got the "please" sign again.
Okay, it's a little thing. I had my chicken wraps and Coca-Cola, while he had his usual two milks and large fries which he spread out all over the table. The fries that is, not the milk. He managed not to slop any moo juice. We had a good time together, and came home.
It's not often we make a connection like that. In fact, it's pretty darn rare. But I'll take them when I can get them, and treasure each one.
Maybe next time he'll let me pick the fast food joint.