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His hazel eyes gazing up at me, crinkled at the corners, so like mine except for the colour, fringed with thick black lashes that belie the pale, wheaty brown, almost blonde, of his jaw-length hair. “Mommy!” he shrieks delightedly, with enough excitement for a boy half his age, “You PRANKED me!” A simple prank, just waiting until he wasn’t looking and tossing a pillow at him, and well worth the risk of upsetting him; he is literally vibrating with joy, his laughter and excited fidgeting causing him to visibly quiver in front of me.

Her still, watchful stare, huge irises a pale ice blue that used to look as if the colour were bleeding into her sclera–she leans into me, and I realise, after a breathless second, that she is leaning against me for a hug. I cuddle her back, I tell her she’s a sweet girl. “Who does Mommy love?” I ask–it’s been a long time since I felt the mood was right, to ask her that question–I’ve timed it well, she smiles a little, and points at herself, using the thumb of her right hand (is she the only person I know, who regularly points with her non-dominant hand?).

They rely so much on non-verbal cues, and I rely so much on explicit, spelled-out, unchanging instructions. How ironic, that one form my autistic spectrum issues should take, is an obsession with words… and she’s non-verbal (not literally, but in the sense it’s usually used, nowadays) and he chatters on about anything and everything, and it’s funny and engaging and he delights me at least as much as I delight him, but there is very little verbal instruction given, between the pair of them.

Every day is a balancing act, and I feel like I lose my balance so often… but actually, I’m better at walking this tightrope than anyone else I’ve ever seen, with the kids.

My own mother would be excellent, of course. She walked a similar tightrope with me, when I used inflection-less, seemingly sarcastic words without any eye contact at all, and she somehow understood that I wasn’t being snide or sarcastic; I was just saying the words, as if reading them from a page in a book, but not acting them at all.

I’m better at the acting part, now. Sometimes I get the inflections right; how very amusing, in a cosmic joke sort of way, that Gabriel especially and even Naomi, more often than you’d believe–the really autistic members of the household, versus me with my probably Asperger’s or HFA, we’ll know soon enough–that the “more” autistic members of our little family, often give me a better idea of how the words ought to sound.

They’re good mimics, like I was/am. Echolalic, though in Nae’s case, not as much as I was (am…). Scripted language, Gabey uses as much scripted language as I ever did, maybe more, but I think his acting is better than mine was. It helps. It all helps. And when they get it wrong, and I see myself in their mistakes, it’s easier to see how to fix it.

Again, this is one of the most constant sources of amusement in my life: by being so unusual themselves, they have made me almost normal… at least on the outside.