As she walked towards the front door, Kate wondered why she kept on doing this. Yesterday was a nightmare. She cried herself to sleep last night. At first, this was just for the money, but now it was so much more. No longer was the money a reason. She had enough saved to pay off her bills so she did not need to continue. Still she did. Why?
Walking in, she went into the room where he sat. He did not acknowledge her presence. It felt like she was not in the room with him. Her heart broke again. Each day began the same way and ended the same way. She decided to sit opposite him and let him continue with what he was doing. Oh, how she loved him. It broke her heart every time she left him and went home. But she knew she couldn’t stay. She had her own life to live.
Lost in her thoughts she didn’t notice that he had turned his attention to her. He called at her the only way he knew how, but she did not respond. He called again. Still she did not respond. So he did the one thing he felt would get her attention.
He spat at her.
Shocked Kate turned and looked at him. Then she remembered the instructions she had been following with him for the past year. She got up, avoided eye contact and took up a wipe. Gently she wiped herself and then walked up to him and wiped his mouth. She looked at what he was doing and saw the painting he was making. She wanted to tell him she was sorry. She had not intentionally ignored him, that the finger painting was beautiful. However, if she did that, it would mean she was condoning his behavior.
It was so hard. Deciding which to follow; the instructions of the doctor or the tugging’s of her heart. She knew what she had to do. She ignored him and went about looking for another alternative to redirect his attention. She had to remain neutral, less he feeds off her reaction.
Immediately she turned from him, he started pinching her. He wanted her attention now and she wasn’t giving him. She knew he was acting out in frustration. Therefore, she did what the doctor had told her. In a calm, monotonous voice devoid of any emotion, she said;
“Tony hands down. No pinching.”
He stopped immediately and looked directly into her eyes.
Kate wanted to hug him and tell him she understood why he was agitated. However, she could not; for to do so will go against all that they were trying to teach him. Consistency was the key otherwise; he would start getting mixed message. Picking up a lollipop from the table, she opened it and gave to him. He gulped it in delight forgetting completely the reason why he had thrown a fit a few seconds earlier.
And so the day began for both of them; the nanny and her ward. As the hours progressed, each one filled with trials and triumphs, Kate reveled in the beauty of the child’s innocence and gained strength from the joy she saw in his eyes every time he got something right and communicated his requests without throwing tantrums.
Finally, his mother came back from work and it was time for her to leave. As she prepared to go, she bent down to buckle her sandals. He ran up to her and placed a wet, sloppy kiss on her cheeks, then ran back to his mother to seek her attention.
Kate smiled as his mother whispered the words ‘thank you’ to her. His mother then held Tony’s hands; the hands of her non-verbal, five years old autistic son and walked into the kitchen.
This was it. The ritual he did each day when she was about to leave was the reason why she had not stopped. His appreciation and love shown the only way he knew how to. His kiss.
At day’s end, when her body ached and she relaxed for a night rest, Kate remembered why she went back each day, a child’s love.