Into the Woods Living Deliberately

just notes from jennyalice

Jennifer Byde Myers

Jennifer Byde Myers
SF Bay Area, California, US
February 03
Jennifer Byde Myers is a writer, editor and parent of a child with autism. She has been writing since 2003 at, chronicling her family’s journey from diagnosis to daily living with her son’s special needs. She is a founder and editor of The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism. Her writing has been featured at, Dandelion, and in several books including My Baby Rides the Short Bus. Jennifer has been interviewed on NPR, most recently on Forum with Michael Krasny, and is a Must-Read Mom. She lives on the San Francisco peninsula with her supportive husband, two wily children and a dog named Gus. Follow her on Twitter at @jennyalice



MARCH 9, 2011 2:36PM

Why the Sad Face?

Rate: 3 Flag
I hate it when my kids cry. I hate it even more when it's that fake cry that my daughter has mastered--you know the one where, if you tickle her just a little bit she bursts into laughter, or if you say the word "candy," she stops the faux water works (faux canalisation d'eau?) The worst sound may be my son's silent moan with tears, but I haven't heard that in a while...a long blessed while.

But we have had some tears this week. 

Yesterday Lucy sort of just lost it on the way to school. She had eaten a balanced breakfast, had enough sleep, and because she was actually being a good listener (and mommy had enough sleep the night before too), we had not had any of the usual morning squabbling over shoes-on, hair brushing etc. So we get out the door, into the car and began our race to the freeway (with the cruise control at the speed limit). She started to cry. 

Looking into the rear view mirror I was so afraid it was going to be a faker, whiny, brat, cry baby that I steeled myself for the barrage of mean things I would need to force back down my throat, because, after all she is only four, and still learning how to ask for what she needs. 

What I saw, instead of a bratty little monster, was the saddest little girl I've ever seen. Little tears slipping down her face, she asked if I could pick her up from school before nap time.  
"I'm just going to miss you a lot today Mama, and I feel like I wasn't close with you at all yesterday, or on the weekend when I was playing, and I am probably going to be sad a lot today and miss you so much. So can you please pick me up really, really, early?"

"Well, Bug, you have "Cheery Chipmunks" dance lessons at school after class, so it's a late day for you. Are you sure you want to miss Cheery Chipmunks?"

"Oh this is too hard. I want YOU mama. I like to dance, but I just," and she broke down some more, "want you."

And so I made a u-turn at the light at the top of the hill and told her that she was going to stay home with me for the day. 

If there was ever a little face that said "I need a mental health day" that was the face.

It wasn't easy for me to let go of my messy house that needs cleaning, or the bills that need to be paid, or the myriad essays I need to finish, or the calls I need to return, but it would have been a lot harder to say goodbye to that little girl at the door of a preschool.

She's not going to need me much at all pretty soon; I knew I would leave home and live far away by the time I was about 8. She can already happily stay at a sleep over for 24 hours without more than a 5 minute check in on the phone. 

As much as I love how independent and strong she is growing, I know that part of the reason she is okay when I'm not around, is because she knows I really am here. I tend to think that if we don't give our kids that feeling like they know how very deeply they are loved...every day, well, I think some of those kids stick around too long waiting to hear it. I know there are lots of other reasons why people stay near their family, or fly the coop, but I want Lucy to be so confident that she is loved and supported, that she can leave, and forget to wave goodbye.

And yesterday, that meant shopping for some new jeans, going to a movie, meeting Daddy for lunch, snuggling for some nap time, and pulling out the oil paints to finish some art work for the grandparents. It was a great day, for both of us.

And today? She's staying late at school for soccer... no problem.

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how old is your daughter? does she have autism? think this is a nice post but maybe weekends are the natural health days....
Your essay brought tears to MY eyes. You know you hear, how sharper than a serpent's tongue is an ungrateful child. But where is the corollary saying for the how it feels when your child shows you how much she loves you? How integral you are to her life? i think we need a saying like that.

How your lucky your daughter is to have a compassionate, perceptive mom, who not only wants to be with her, but has the wherewithal to take a day off with her. You are both very blessed, indeed.
She's four, vzn. Did you read the post?
Loved this! You made the little kid in me very happy!
Blessed is the child who has parents who wanted to conceive them, cherish them during all the trials and tribulations of infancy and beyond- and who listen to their child with their hearts. It seems as though this wee one is blessed- as are you and daddy. May this be a lesson to 'Tiger' moms and dads who expect too much out of four-year old children as well as fourteen-year old teens. Love and compassion ... tenderness and laughter, discipline with love - not pain- and cherish these precious little people!
Thank you for this post! As a mom to a 3-year-old, I struggle to remember that I know my child best (except for her) and that sometimes really listening to her and hearing what she needs is the best parenting I can do. And what a great way to show her how loved she is. She will remember the mental health day with her mommy.