Lily, even without her glasses (which she keeps forgetting to wear and I keep forgetting to insist), is sharp as a tack.
We started week 5 of the semester yesterday, and that means at least six weeks sick. I was sick before that, but I went back to work six weeks ago, so that's when I started counting. It didn't matter when I was home all day, so why count those weeks? (I will confess I felt like myself briefly this weekend and yesterday, but my throat hurts again...damnitall)
Truthfully, it hasn't been that different from far too many semesters, where I've limped through fighting various infections while battling a cluster of disorders, diseases and in general, pain in the ass stuff that a body puts a person through. I'd be surprised to see someone in their mid-forties who doesn't have aches, pains, and chronic ailments, honestly.
What is different from other semesters is that Lily's noticing. Every day for weeks now she's asked why I'm always sick and why I'm always grading.
Hmmmm...could it be that easy a causation? Grading causes sickness! Hah, I wish it were that easy.
I've done my best to explain--I'm sick because I tend to catch every virus that students bring in and because I have diabetes, GERD, migraines, fibromyalgia (hah-that's fun to explain--well, you see, when I was 20, I was diagnosed with it when they still thought it was psychogenic .."Mom, what's psychogenic "...all in my head, ad infinitum), a slightly leaky heart valve, and so on...sigh. Add in anxiety and more than a touch of OCD and well, crap. Crap. Thank gods for meds?
I nap a lot, but that's usually before the girls get home from school, and I try not to whine. But, it's pretty hard to miss when someone feels so bad she wants to curl up in a ball and just hybernate. So I can see her noticing.
Coupled, though, with this sniffing, sneezing, coughing that I've been doing, has been the laptop in my lap for hours a day as I wade through paper after paper after paper times 100 or so. Stupid me with multiple assignments in a week and seven comp classes...
Why am I always grading, Lily wants to know, every day. And I patiently explain that students can't learn to write without writing a lot. And I can't help them get better without reading and marking things and offering suggestions and corrections.
Tonight she offered with sincerity that leaves me warm at heart to help me grade. Teach me how to mark them, she said, and that way we'll get the work done twice as fast. Smart girl. Diligent girl. I won't take her up on her offer just yet, but it's sweet to know how much she means it.
Bobby, too, notices, in his own way, and on days where I'm too sick to get out the door and get him to Meals on Wheels, he elects to stay home and take care of me rather than getting a ride from his uncle. He cooks, and now, bless him, he bakes. Not without some mishaps, of course, but he's doing pretty good and he's being creative, adding ingredients to the mixes to add some flair. He holds down the fort in the early afternoon when I need to nap, too, waiting on his sisters to get home, just in case I sleep on.
So much time, so much energy, spent on the internet arguing whether autistic individuals lack empathy or not...often ignoring that the real question is how many people in general lack empathy, how contingent empathy is on the situation, the persons involved, and the energy and attention people have to pay to others.
My three may be on the spectrum, may have a hard time articulating their feelings and more abstract concepts, may have difficulty inferring emotional states from text, may not get idioms or sarcasm at times. All that may be true, but none of that is as important as how sweet, how caring, how loving they are.
When they notice, and they do, their concern is immediate and heartwarming. Even Rosie, who is often too wrapped up in what she's drawing to notice, takes the time every night to tuck me in before her dad tucks her in. She covers me up, she pats my arm, hugs me, gives me a kiss--the child who had a broken pucker--and tells me she loves me as she continues to pat my arm, seeing how long she can avoid going to bed.
Sure, I spend too much time grading, and I definitely spend too much time feeling like crap, but I am blessed beyond all riches by these three children who take the time to see, to care, to offer help, and to give hugs and kisses, unaware that those are more precious than all the jewels in the world.
They are so worth the cost of ice cream sundaes. ;)