We just came off another week or so of unsettled Nate behavior. He was overly worried about things like his iPad, reflecting on the day a few years ago when his iPod was acting up and he washed it to get it to work better. That’s right; he washed his iPod to make it better. Needless to say, it was a bad idea. We had to buy a new one. That disaster comes back when his iPad runs slow or he’s worried that he’s run out of storage capacity.
Nate’s anxiety emerges in extra-clinginess and the occasional playing dead. The playing dead part is actually kinda cute. He lies on the floor or couch, announces that he’s playing dead, closes his eyes and sticks his tongue out of the side of his mouth. Cartoonishly cute, but unwelcome, and when he says, “Dad, I’m playing dead,” I usually tell him to stop.
Another of these scenes was playing out a little over one week ago when Karen walked into our bedroom. With her on the scene I left Nate and went to brush my teeth. While I was doing so, I heard the two of them talking. Then I heard something I have never heard before.
“I love you Mom,” Nate said.
“Wow!” I walked from the bathroom to the side of the bed to see Karen hugging Nate.
How many years have we asked Nate if he loved both of us, or at least one of us? “Ah, I like you,” he’d answer. It was never deep. Does he love us? It’s really hard to say. I can’t even say with any certainty that he feels love in the same way we feel it. Over time I realized it didn’t matter, not to me anyway. However Nate feels about me is how he feels about me. It has nothing to do with how I feel about him, which, I can assure you, is love.
But there it was – “I love you, Mom” – unasked for, unprompted, and delivered with real depth. We’ve always hoped (and maybe at times pretended) there was no end to Nate’s development. And now this.
“Best Valentine’s Day ever,” Karen said.