My daughter watched her brother get his cast .
She witnessed it all.
His screams, his pain, his confusion.
She watched me restrain him. She surely noticed how much I struggled to hold him still--how he struck out in fear.
How did she process it all?
How can I know for sure? She is only five-years-old.
But I know that she is incredibly attuned to my feelings. She has been for a very long time.
I know that she must have sensed my desperation and my sadness, as I struggled to keep her brother still.
She was incredibly interested in what was going on, and she watched closely at first.
But, after a while, I think her brother's screams became too much for her, and she crawled under the table and hid.
I wanted to acknowledge her in some way, as I held her brother so tightly that I thought my muscles might spasm. I didn't want her to think that I had forgotten about her.
So I praised her for her patience. I told everyone in the room what a wonderful, helpful sister she was.
And I tried to reach out to her with my voice, even as I clung to her brother with everything I had, and counted down the minutes until the whole ordeal would be over.
"Isn't it amazing, Olivia," I said to her, "how doctors can fix broken bones."
Less than 24 hours later, my daughter says to me:
"Mama, do you know what I want to be when I grow up? I want to be an autism doctor."
I can hardly type the words without crying.
If I wondered what kind of impression Daniel's injury made on Olivia, I knew when I heard her words.
Isn't it amazing how doctors can fix broken bones ........ I want to be an autism doctor .......
I have no idea what my daughter will be when she grows up.
But I know that right here, right now, she is the person who keeps me smiling.
She is my rock, my foundation, my greatest joy.