One of the things that makes Maggie’s social/communication…whatever this is so hard to diagnostically pin down is her emotional acumen. Whatever else she may be, that child is a born caretaker–loving, generous, empathetic. She spends a lot of time with her dollhouse and in her kitchen, making sure everyone’s needs are attended. At our in-home interview last week, Maggie fixed a plate of (wood) cookies and a (toy) cup of coffee (air with pretend milk and sugar) for the education advocate. She had not the slightest idea of how to answer a direct question, but gosh, she wanted to try. Maggie desperately wanted to make this friendly, grandmotherly woman comfortable and give her what she wanted. It was as heartwarming as it was heartbreaking.
Maggie is calm, quiet, and gentle, especially with people and animals she’s familiar with. Dogs…no. Much too boisterous. Kitties? Approachable. Guinea pigs, like the ones from preschool? Oh, yes please. Let’s pat and snuggle. Overall, adults are much easier for her to deal with than children her own age. Toddlers and young kids are fast-paced and noisy, constantly transitioning. I mentioned Maggie’s preference for the calmness of adults to the interviewer, noting “I can’t tell if she’s on the spectrum or a super-introvert or just a three-year-old trapped in a Victorian-era 40-year-old’s body or all three.” There are times when I think if we got Maggie a rocking chair by a woodstove and a proper teapot, her obstacles would dissolve away.
And in the midst of all this…is Moira.
Moira is, without a doubt, one of the best “therapy tools” we have for Maggie; Maggie is the type of kid who NEEDS a sibling to force her out of her comfort zone. Moira does not care about your personal space issues. Moira, frankly, thinks your idea of personal space is bullshit and you should reevaluate, because Moira wants to LOVE YOU and your ISSUES are impeding her ability to freely bestow her loving. She is, in the most flattering sense I can muster, just like a puppy. Moira follows Maggie around with body language that simply begs “Oh please! Tickle me! Rub my belly! Hug me and put me in a headlock and wrestle me to the floor! Give me kisses! Let me kiss you back! Wait where are you going LET ME DROOL ON YOUR FACE.”
At first, Maggie was horrified by such a display of exuberance. To her credit, she never got physical with Moira (or any child unwelcome in her space). She never hit or pushed to get away; she simply relocated. Then Maggie started to realize that Moira was pretty good at playing, especially because she’s not quite walking yet–when Maggie is done, Maggie just walks away and seeks the high ground. I have no idea what will happen when Moira can walk and climb, but that’s Maggie’s problem.
Yesterday, the girls spent quite a bit of time playing peek-a-boo around the coffee table. Maggie gave constant, affectionate hugs and Moira reciprocated with gleeful shrieks. Moira snatched up fascinating toys and packed them up her nose and into her mouth; Maggie gently removed them and gave her more appropriate toys.
And finally…she wrestled. As only Maggie can.
She put Moira in a very careful headlock and ever-so-gently threw (re: delicately laid) her on the floor. Cue delighted giggles. Then Maggie hid under a blanket (protecting the hair Moira loves to yank) and yelled “Where’s Maggie?!” until Moira pounced on her head. She picked up a Moby Wrap and when Moira grabbed the end, Maggie slowly dragged Moira across the floor (under my supervision, of course–no strangulations on my watch!) while Moira howled “Aggie! Aggie!” with the joy of a friendly little puppy who just wants to tussle.
These girls…I don’t know. I don’t know how my heart hasn’t burst from all the love. They are just wonderful.