My daughter always calls me on the way home from Sunday visits with her father. These days, I’m often still cleaning up from training at the gym or just starting the evening’s dinner when she calls. In that event, she leaves a voicemail telling me that she had a good day; she’s tired; she’s only a little bit hungry; she loves me; and she hopes I like her message. That’s almost verbatim. Her Sunday call is a perfect example of the tendency toward repetition and habit that people on the spectrum are known for. But this Sunday’s call was different.
In this call she told me how her father’s decision to play Dungeons & Dragons with his younger son and our eldest (who joins in by Skype before leaving for work) prevents her from really spending time with him. It was obvious information that I was previously aware of, but I’d never heard her express it with the terms and tone she chose that day. She spoke with analysis, instead of complaint, and sadness, instead of irritation. She sounded as if she’d turned the first of many corners onto a higher level of maturity. She sounded so markedly older, I saved the message.
I thought about us girls being together in Pittsburgh just one day earlier, how young she’d seemed waiting impatiently for her event to be called, and how proud and confident she was after scoring so well. It seems a stretch that the one and a half minute it took to perform long staff in public for the first time would add some maturity to her. But who knows? Earning a black sash definitely changed my brain chemistry. Maybe her kung fu milestones are changing hers.