• My perfect daughter

    I don’t know if you could call it a reoccurring dream or not. The circumstances are always slightly different — different people and different reasons for being there. But all these dreams have one paralyzing similarity: a tsunami.

    There’s no stop-drop-and-roll to a tsunami. No 911. Nothing but that instant where you realize your life and the lives of those you love are about to be ravenously consumed by the sea. And then I wake up.

    It’s not hard to surmise that the weight of the ocean collapsing on me is my subconscious telling me that my stress-o-meter needs to take a chill pill.

    On September 3, 2009, a tsunami hit my family. Just like my dreams, I saw it rising and before I knew it, I was facing a wall of churning water in the form of an evaluation team.

    My oldest daughter just turned two, and I had my concerns.

    Scarlett didn’t listen to me the way the other kids her age listened to their mamas. If I asked her to put her cup on the table, or to go get a diaper, she would smile up at me as if saying, “I don’t understand, but please love me anyway”.

    Scarlett’s evaluation team sat me down after an hour of playing with her and scrutinizing every noise and movement she made. Three women sat in a semi-circle in front of me and gave me dismal smiles.

    “We tested Scarlett in five areas of development. She’s shown to be 38-50 percent delayed in all areas.”

    And there is was. That wave of water smashing into me. I looked over at Scarlett who was enthusiastically chattering nonsense to her Barbie doll. My heart ached.

    Ever since that day, my tsunami dreams escalated. Everyone gave me their advice.

    “Every kid learns at her own pace, she’ll be fine.”

    “It’s because she was vaccinated. You should reconsider vaccinating your younger daughter.”

    “Here’s a great article on autism, you should read it.”

    I was in a constant state of overwhelm.

    Yesterday was Scarlett’s first evaluation with the school district. I knew she’d made progress, but I also knew a psychologist would be there. That meant the possibility of a diagnosis – something she’d never had before.

    The night before her evaluation, I had another tsunami dream. For the first time, my dream continued after the wave descended. I felt the rush of water run over me, and the rhythm of the sea swept me back and forth, rocking me like a baby. Adrenaline was buzzing through my veins like I was on some roller coaster ride, but it was hypnotic at the same time. I was lulled into a place of release. My muscles relaxed, and I accepted that this is where I was – in the belly of the wave – and that was an okay thing.

    Yesterday’s evaluation revealed several things. My daughter is not autistic. She does not qualify for any sort of diagnosis. But she is behind. She does need help.

    As if on cue, Scarlett looked up from her activity, and her eyes locked with mine. “You okay?” She asked with her brows furrowed.

    “Yes Scarlett, I’m okay. This is an okay thing.”

    And I meant it.

    My daughter may not understand everything we say to her, and she may not know how to respond, but her soul understands this life. She has a dreamy and magical 2-year-old mind. She takes this world in, loves it deeply, and claims it as her own. She fills life with singing, dancing and a joy so much bigger than that tsunami.

    This little sprite came crashing into our lives, and rocked our world to the tune of a new lullaby that’s all her own.

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