Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I love you...you are so pretty! A mother's day story

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Your kids are supposed to love you even if you are ugly...but if they think you are pretty, well, that's an added bonus!

Frankie made my day last Sunday, incidentally it was mother's day, when he added to his usual "I love you " statements - unsolicited AND completely spontaneous - the additional comment of liking my looks. Oh, well, I was flattered but more than anything I was surprised. Frankie looked at me. I mean, he really did look at me! For kids in the Autism spectrum, keeping eye contact is a challenge, no matter how high functioning they are and of course we are always practicing our ABA skills with him (applied behavioral analysis), constantly reinforcing the good, replacing the bad and always on guard to identify, correct and reward....but this time, he caught me off guard... He must have looked straight into my eyes for over a minute and I didn't know what to do with all that attention!

Frankie looked at me, he literally "checked me out" and then he declared that I was pretty and that he loved me for that. For a moment there, I wasn't sure what to say and only managed to get a quick "thank you" that came out both shy and doubtful at the words I just heard. Say what? Me, pretty? Yeah, I could say I think of me as a "pretty" good mom, a "pretty" smart woman, a "pretty" savvy shopper and perhaps a "pretty" good cook but when I use the word "pretty" before another word that stands for a role I must perform, it usually means I am not great at it but just good enough. Frankie taught me that day that I must stop setting the bar so high for myself because "pretty" doesn't have to be a minimizing word to define my abilities or my achievements; why can't it just be an adjective that could, by itself, define ME. I guess pretty can stand for just...pretty.

I have heard before that children and drunks always tell the truth, so I'm going to take Frankie's word for it and accept that I am pretty, just pretty, because my child actually saw ME and thought that I was, well, a pretty girl and that's the best mother's day gift I could ask for!

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