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Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Hug

I took a chance and leaned in to hug her goodbye. She was sitting on my bed, waiting for her Daddy to finish helping her get dressed so she could enjoy her favorite Saturday activity. Every Saturday Mark and Teale go grocery shopping. It's their thing and they both love the time together. Teale has gotten so obsessive about it, she seems to be waking many times on Friday night and earlier and earlier in the morning to go with her Daddy-O! Teale likes routine, she likes consistency and when she is running the show. The grocery shopping didn't used to be such an obsession, but it's been a long winter in Upstate Western New York and I believe Teale has clung to this activity with her Dad more so because of the brutal winter. As she sat on my bed, I know I debated hugging her much before I leaned in. It's funny how I over think almost every move I take when it comes to Teale. Even a simple hug goodbye causes me much angst. Should I or will I just set her off? Is it worth the chance? She had shown signs of agitation all morning, the last thing I want to do is push her over the edge and leave her for Mark to deal with. But, I'm her Mom, I yearn to hug her, to show her my love, so I risk it and hold her, kissing her on the forehead and expecting to be pushed away, as is the usual. Surprisingly, she leans into me, lets me hug her and then says in her innocent, concerned voice, "You come back?" I pull away, feeling like I just accomplished something remarkable. Teale had not pushed me away and the release of love between us relaxed my body much. I look at my 15 year old daughter who has only let me hug her like that a few times that I can remember. How have the years gone by so quickly, I think, it's a common thought of parents, but a sincere one. Teale has been sensory defensive her whole life. She doesn't accept warm touches from anyone well. She pushes us away when we try to comfort her, but we've learned ways to get past it. We squash hug her, Mark and I will press her between us tightly, holding her, somewhat trapped in our embrace. Those bear hugs she seems to get relief from, but still it is not often we can get them in. I've seen a change over the years she's been at private school though. The school she is at now is a very "huggy" school. Many of the special needs kids there are sensory seekers, wanting physical touch more than most. Their filters don't sort out the "appropriate" times to hug someone and at this school, touching in an encouraging, loving way is common. In public school it is discouraged, but not at Holy Childhood. I always felt this sort of environment was the answer for Teale. When she was very young I yearned for a way to break her sensory defensiveness with pushing the limits often. I was sure if I could get her on a therapy program where she was hugged and touched in a loving way often, she would eventually be broken of the defensiveness. I believe in a natural way, that has happened at Holy Childhood. The love of a private school, one that is not constricted by the societal issues around physical encouragement, has given Mark and I a child who we can occasionally catch off guard and hug. That gift may be one of the most priceless ones our family has received. So as I pulled away from our embrace, I felt thankful for a moment I won't soon forget and I answered her worrisome question, "Yes Teale, I'll come back, I always do...."

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