Saturday, December 24, 2005

"I love you" means never having to say you're sorry

"I love you": the three little words that every parent waits to hear. Many parents of children on the spectrum have to wait longer than most to hear them; some have to learn to recognize other expressions of the sentiment. With Bud, however, we never have to wait long to hear "I love you." Hearing it is not a challenge; interpreting it, on the other hand, can be.

"I love you" is sort of Bud for "Aloha," in that it means different things at different times and in different contexts. Sometimes it's a greeting, as when he creeps into the dark bedroom where his father is sleeping, crouches up by his dad's head and says "I love you, Daddy." (Translation: "I know you're not much of a morning person, but I'd love it if you'd wake up, and if you do wake up, it'd be great if you would not be cranky.")

It's also a farewell, as when I am leaving for work while he's engrossed in watching Jack's Big Music Show on Noggin and I'm distracting him by trying to say goodbye and get one more kiss: "ILOVEYOU!" (Translation: "Okay, okay, goodbye already!")

At other times it's a request, as when he sidles up to his grandfather who is eating slices of apple for breakfast and says "I love you, Papa. What a great breakfast!" (Translation: "Can I have some of that apple?")

Sometimes it's a comforting phrase designed to let me down easy, as when I suggest that we not watch Barney Christmas for the hundredth time and instead watch Elmo's Christmas: "I love you, Mom. Another day." (Translation: "Don't take this personally, but no.")

Frequently it's a diversionary tactic, as when we are sitting at the dining room table, hear a loud CRASH from upstairs, and shout "Bud, what are you doing?" The response comes instantly shouted back: "I love you!" (Translation: "I'd rather not discuss it." A side note, the other common answer to this question in similar scenarios is "Just helping.")

Still other times, it's an admission of guilt, as when I am standing at the stove cooking dinner and he walks up to me quietly and says, "I love you." (Translation: "You know that bowl you told me not to touch...?")

Very often it's an apology: "Bud, please stop banging those pans!"; "I love you." (Translation: "Sorry.")

And sometimes, when he and I are both at our dysregulated worst, when I'm frustrated and angry, when I've lost my cool and started shouting, when I have just frayed my very last nerve, it's a reminder to keep things in perspective, as he moves his impish little face nose-to-nose with mine, blinks his long Bambi-lashes, and gives me a tight-lipped grin: "You not angry; you happy. I love you." (Translation: "Is it really all that important, Mom?" Funny - it never is.)

But my very favorite "I love you, Mama" is the one that comes accompanied by his little arms around my neck, his face buried, breathing warmth into the crook of my neck. That's the one that means - well, just "I love you."

And it's in that spirit at this holiday season that in addition to our usual litany of good wishes, Bud and I send one more out to our friends in the Austismland blogosphere:

We love you.


kristina said...

And we love you, too!---And all of our big, blog-connected autism family.

Charlie uses "hi" in similar ways: Jim whistles ("hi!"= "stop"); I ask Charlie "how about we not bang those boomwhackers on the window?" he says "hi" as in "mind your own business!").

And thanks for sharing Bud's sweet wisdom, and your own. Never sorry to read your words!

Octobermom said...

"Ah wubby doo!" (translation: I love you too)that's what India says when we tell her we love her.

Thank you for you and your words and your wonderful little boy.

Ah wubby doo,

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed that post of translations. It reminds me so much of Billy Ray, who is now 23 years old. He can say the same thing in a 100 ways. For example: I fine means No!!! when it has the right tone to it.

Wade Rankin said...

Can anyone think of a finer all-purpose phrase? Certainly I cannot!

gretchen said...

I think Henry's "I miss you" means I love you, as he often says it when we've been together all day. I guess he's saying that I'm important to him.

You and Bud were my introduction to this blogging world, and I've never looked back. You've done me a world of good this year. More than you can know. Thanks.

One More Minute said...

Uhm.. I gotta say i found this by compelte accident..searching google, but you cuaght my eye :) i am an autistic myself, i have HFA and so does my son. i am reading your blog now, its amazing to see somebody who sees the same things i do :) please, i want to hear more and read more, and it would be nice to talk to another spectrum mommie :) so if you find the time, email me at i really want to hear from you, and thank you for posting a blog i could find :)