It is 11am in the morning, Friday, the 11th of February, the third day of the Rooster year, and mommy has gone to work.
Daddy is going to spend his day off bumming around, blogging, surfing the web and his RSS feeds, playing with the kids, and maybe even going to Sim Lim Square. Then he has an interview with some people at a cafe in the afternoon, and then he will meet mommy after work, so that they can go out for dinner, as they usually do on Fridays, which is the sacred Date Night.
That was the plan that I, Mr Daddy-on-leave, had in mind.
I was bumming around the house in the morning after dropping the wife off, deciding how to spend the rest of my day off, when the sound of loud and obnoxious nursery rhyme music shattered the peace.
I recognised the sounds, it came from this toy that looked like a cross between a piano and TV. When you hit one of the piano keys, the cheesy kiddie music would play, and the "TV screen" would show a continuous moving picture. Not only is the music loud, there is a whirring and grinding sound that comes from the motor that moves the picture across the screen. Needless to say, Faith does not like this toy because this sound frightens her, and would never play with it.
I walked into the bedroom, expecting to see Isaac playing with it in his cot. It is one of his favourite hand-me-down toys.
Instead, I walked in and saw Faith playing with it on the floor. She was pressing the keys to get the music started, and then getting up and dancing a little jig to it. When the music stopped, she would bend down to press another key to start it again, and then do another little jig.
Temple Grandin, a famous author with autism, once wrote about this condition she has; high-pitched noises cause her heart to race. For Faith, sounds from hairdryers and motorcycle engines unnerve her.
We are all born with fears. Fear is the thing that keeps us safe, the way we pull our hand back when we touch a flame. But fear also keeps us from learning. So that flame remains a mystery to us, because it looks (and felt) dangerous.
I took Isaac out of his cot to join his sister on the floor, so that they could both play together. But he had other plans, and started opening the drawers and tossing out his clothes on the floor, so it was back into the cot for him. Faith continued playing with the Piano-TV toy, as I just stood there and watched her unplanned play.
Faith has many fears, because of her sensory integration dysfunction. That morning, she pushed her hand past the wall of fire in her mind, and touched the music behind it.
Sometimes she needs our help to overcome a fear, and sometimes she overcomes a fear herself. It takes time, and we do it together, one toy at a time.