So it turns out-- all that emotional volatility, Millie's vivacious but sometimes socially inappropriate candor...
3 year later all that individuality morphs into something of a diagnosis: Aspergers.
Oh, I know the DSM-V removed it from it's diagnoses and now categorizes it all as High Functioning Autism but Asperger's is still more descriptive.
When most people think of Autism they imagine a child who is barely verbal and somewhat functional but mostly impaired. Millie is bright and extroverted but misses the social cues that are obvious to the rest of us.
Let me tell ya folks- it's been quite a journey but we are just one foot in the door... she's only 7. It's a blessing and a struggle.
Tonight all I can think of though is yin and yang. My second child is 4 yrs old and is (as far as we know) considered "neurotypical". But she is more than that-- she is actually hyper-empathic and she is my life raft of hugs.
Tonight Joy, the second child, had a birthday party to attend. Dad took her, so Millie and I had special "Mommy and Me" time. Long story short-- we went somewhere that I hate but she thoroughly enjoyed (Chuck-E-Cheese) but at the end of the night would not stop complaining about missing the birthday cake at the party that her little sister got to enjoy.
As I mourned the apparent lake of gratitude and tried to control my indignation-- 5 minutes later she looked out the window and said, "Look! The Moon!"
While I tried to recover the emotional hurt from her complaints despite getting to go out to a rare treat, she has moved on to absorbing the world in all it's glory.
Joy, the little one though, is hyper-empathic. A friend once told me that being super empathetic has always been a struggle for her- feeling the feelings of others too much. For now I am deeply grateful to have an extra source of empathy in our home. I know Millie feels empathy but is not sure how to show it. Joy will hopefully show her the way. This week when I dropped Joy off at pre-school, there was a child struggling with her zipper on the playground. Joy stopped to help her get it started, once she saw that the other child was ok, she grasped hands with a friend to go play.
So, as Millie takes us on her psychedelic journey through the world, Joy and the rest of us will get a chance to experience more magic than we otherwise might. And Joy will, hopefully, gently lead Millie down the path of learning how to display the kindness, gratitude, and empathy that lies within her own heart but she's not quite sure how to show. Joy gives the best hugs and most touching gestures of kindness of any child than I have ever seen. It is all suddenly more clear-- For now, we will soak up all the nourishing extra rich hugs Joy has to give, while we soak up all the extra magic that Millie has to share. Hopefully it will all balance itself out. Yin and Yang.