As a runner, I think about time – like, a lot. How fast was that last mile? How much time did that race take? How much time do I have for today’s run? What were my splits? What did I average?
Time. It’s on my mind all the…well…time.
But I’ve been thinking about time in a different way recently – as in, I wish I could go back in time.
We all have things we wished we had done differently when we were younger – the girl who got away; the trip we didn’t take; the job we declined. I’ve got a bunch of them, but to be honest they are all silly and childlike save one – I wish I had been paying more attention to Brooke when she was a baby.
Now, understand, it’s not like Brooke is in a bad place right now. Truth is, she’s been doing pretty well – her language gets more and more complex; she’s expressing how she feels; she’s getting more independent. She even as a pair of sisters fighting over whose friend she is. Brooke is in a pretty good place right now. In general, she is happy.
But at the same time, I can’t help but notice the widening gap between her and her peers. More and more her home-school communication journal mentions fewer and fewer friends she plays with. As the girls her age have grown, I’ve seen fewer and fewer invitations to play dates – there have even been a few parents that just flat-out ignored any attempts on Brooke’s and my attempt to set something up. And birthday parties? Those are becoming rare as well – a natural progression to be sure; when Katie was Brooke’s age, she decided that she wanted to have smaller, more personal parties. I get it. But it’s still difficult to see the pictures on Facebook and the mentions of parties, knowing that she was not invited. It’s not a “wah” moment, just an observation.
What scares me the most is the impending move to Middle School in a year and a half. Will Brooke move on with her peers? or will she end up at a different Middle School with a special program for kids on the Spectrum? These girls may not be calling for play dates and birthday invites, but they know her; they get her; they’re cool with her.
Would that I could go back in time to when Brooke was a baby. Would there be anything I could have done? Would that I had listened, really listened to Jess when she first felt something might be different. Would Brooke be in a different place right now?
How could I have not noticed? If I had, would she be different? I know it’s not PC to wish the autism away, and you know, it’s not the autism per se that I would wish away – it’s the difficulties that Brooke faces every day that I wish I could change. Brooke has autism, and no matter what I noticed or did six or seven or eight years ago wouldn’t change that – I just wonder if I had noticed earlier; if I had paid more attention; if I had gotten her the help she needed earlier…would it be different?
I wish I had a time machine so I could find out.