"Remember I was 3, and I cry at Miss Marci's?" Kate said to me recently while driving to school.
Do I remember? How could I forget?
The summer before Kate was to start preschool, we enrolled her in a social skills group for children on the spectrum with the hope of combating her habit of screaming and throwing herself on the floor. The group was run by Marci, a licensed psychologist and movement therapist. Every Wednesday evening that summer we would drive 45 minutes for Kate to "participate" in this group. I say "participate" because Kate would spend the entire session rolling around on the floor, alternating between screaming and crying. Eventually, though, Marci was able to woo Kate through music and dance. By the end of that summer, Kate was a willing and happy participant, following Marci's directions and interacting a little bit with the other children.
"Yes, I remember," I replied.
"I cry a lot," she added.
Sensing that Kate was interested in having this conversation, I probed a bit further, hoping she wouldn't shut down, which often happens when she feels pressured. "You did cry a lot. Why did you cry at Miss Marci's?"
"I wanted you, Mom."
Those words made me want to turn the clock back two years, pick up that screaming toddler, and hold her close to my heart. Those screams weren't about non-compliance or defiance. Those screams were simply a little girl telling everyone she just wanted her mommy.