When I read Kristina's post on Charlie's use of "hi" over at Autismland, I realized that my recent post on the myriad meanings of Bud's I-love-yous did not present an exhaustive list. Since then I've recognized even more uses that I missed.
Like Charlie's "hi," Bud's "I love you" can be an admonition against singing in the car. Last week, as I belted out "Sleigh Ride" in the front, I heard from the back a determined "I love you, Mom. Don't sing." (Translation: "No offense. You're bugging me.")
It can also express gratitude. This morning he shouted up the stairs to ask me to rewind his videotape (in Budspeak, "Mom, it needs to be winding!") When I shouted down to tell him I'd be right there, he shouted back "I love you!" (Translation: "Thanks!")
It also acts as punctuation. Bud has taught himself the alphabet in sign language, using a poster that hangs in the bathroom in his classroom. The poster shows a hand making each letter, then shows the sign for "I love you." When Bud does his sign language alphabet he talks along, "A - B - C ... - X - Y - Z - and - Iloveyou." (Translation: "The end.")
And tonight, as I sat down to blog, I heard Bud in the next room having trouble winding down, calling out for water, telling me that he was scared, and trying anything he could think of to get me to come back in. "Mo - om," he sing-songed out. "Come give your buddy a HUG!" That did it. I peered around the corner and said "Okay, one more hug."
"I love you!" he cheered. "YEAH!" (Translation: "Hooray! One for the home team!") I'll let him go on thinking it was a win for the home team. But we know the truth; it was really a tie.