Party Hat

Dramatic Pause

posted Tuesday December 16th, 2014

The principal called this afternoon.

Not the principal of Sophie’s school, the principal of the gifted academy next door — the one that offers the drama elective she wants to take.

He was polite but I got his message loud and clear: Tell your kid to leave me alone!

Last week I posed a question on Sophie’s behalf. Could she take the drama elective at the gifted school? The answer was sure and swift: No.

The question was not, as it turns out, unexpected. Apparently Sophie’s been cornering the principal for weeks on this very topic; the schools share a cafeteria and she finds him at lunch. She figured out that the gifted kids get to take drama and she doesn’t. They don’t offer a drama elective at the regular school. Sophie doesn’t know what gifted means, but she knows what drama means and despite the fact that she attends camps and classes and performances outside of school, she wants in on this opportunity.

When they told me (assuring me that even the honors kids at Sophie’s school don’t get to take any classes at the gifted academy) I told them they could break the news to Sophie. That seemed fair.

Apparently she’s not taking no for an answer.

The principal was very kind, even complimentary. “Today she offered her most cogent argument to date,” he said. He told me that Sophie had pointed out that the gifted kids get to come to the regular school to take electives, but not vice versa.

Not bad.

He’s not budging. Instead, he suggested that maybe the Best Buddies program at Sophie’s school could tape some infomercials to educate students, written by and starring Sophie. He mentioned that there’s an effort underway to start a drama club; maybe I’d like to be the parent sponsor?

I said I’d love to help out but I worry Sophie’s not going to go for a drama club run by her mother, as opposed to a bona fide drama class.

I’m a little embarrassed by the whole thing, but I’m also really proud of Sophie. “She has no editor,” I told the principal. “She doesn’t understand why she can’t take that class.”

And frankly, at this point, neither do I. Oh trust me, I get all the legal ramblings, you don’t need to explain that to me, but while we’re talking about legality, I doubt the segregation that goes on here — and that goes on in this district — is strictly kosher.

The funny part is that none of this has anything to do with the fact that Sophie has Down syndrome. She’s just a regular kid asking for something her regular school doesn’t offer. And if she wants to push, who am I to stop her? I was a bona fide pain in the ass all through school (I still am, come to think of it). She comes by it honestly.

I’m going to tell her to quit bugging that principal. But I just might suggest that Sophie write a letter to the school board.

 


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Party Hat

All The World’s A Stage — Maybe

posted Thursday December 11th, 2014

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I have a lot of uncertainty when it comes to Sophie — her future, her academic abilities, whether or not she brushed her teeth before bed last night. But one thing I know for sure: The stage beckons.

This is a kid with a flair for the dramatic. She will take any opportunity to perform, and if there isn’t one, she makes her own (sorry/not sorry if you were at Phoenix Public Market the other night and were “treated” to Sophie’s impromptu performance of “All About That Bass”). Even a selfie is an opportunity to act. There’s a serious side, too — she is currently writing scripts with two different adults, and her first stop at any bookstore we visit is the play section.

So it’s only natural that she wants to take drama as her elective at school. But there is no drama elective at Sophie’s school. This semester she took visual art and computers; next semester is PE and Spanish. All good, worthy choices and she’s loved what she’s taken so far. But she’s figured something out — and she won’t let it go.

Apparently the elective options at the “gifted” academy on her junior high campus are different than they are for the general population. The gifted kids can take the electives Sophie can take, but no one at Sophie’s part of the school (which is not just for kids with special needs, it includes all the “non-gifted” kids) can take the electives at the gifted school. And the gifted school offers drama.

Sophie’s been bugging me for weeks to ask if she can take drama and yesterday I finally caved and sent an email to several school administrators, asking if it’s a possibility. I told Sophie she needs to be patient until we get an answer back, but that didn’t stop her from asking every adult in the school office this morning when I dropped her off.

“If I had a magic wand, I’d do it,” one kind staffer told her, adding behind her hand, “but you know, it might open a can of worms.”

Ugh. I think I pushed too far this time, I said to a friend afterward. I get the broader implications of letting a kid from the general population into the gifted school — even for one class, even if it’s drama, even if it’s Sophie. My friend shook her head.

“You know, someone once told me I was opening a can of worms and I’ve always regretted listening to that,” she said. “Go for it. It would be good for Sophie, but there’s a bigger reason to do it.”

Tears in my eyes, I nodded. And so we will go for it, worms and all. I’ll let you know what happens.


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Party Hat

With Gratitude

posted Tuesday November 25th, 2014

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“Who are you talking to?” I stage-whispered. It was early, too early for most of the regulars on Sophie’s call list.

“Papa,” she whispered back, immediately turning back to the call, happily snuggled on the living room couch under several soft blankets. I stood, waiting for it to end; my father is not a big phone guy. In fact, he’s not particularly chatty at all, as we’ve teased him over the years. Particularly with the grandchildren.

But this call went on. And on. It was a good three or four minutes. I could only hear Sophie’s end; it was hard to tell what was being said. Something about holiday cookies, and the cousins who are set to arrive this evening.

As the call wrapped up, Sophie sat up a little straighter and said, out of the blue, “My mom says to tell you that she loves you!”

I had said nothing of the sort. Ray and I have a habit/superstition of almost never ending a call without an “I love you.” My mother and I always say it, and I pretty much announce it every time one of my kids leaves the room, let alone a call. But my father? Never. I think once, when Annabelle was 2 or 3, the two of them were sitting side by side on the couch and she blurted out, “I love you Papa!”

As I recall, there was a long pause and then an awkward, “I love you too, Annabelle.”

But I can’t be sure it’s a real memory or something I imagined.

I didn’t imagine this one. “SOPHIE!” I admonished in my stage-whisper, my cheeks hot. “Why’d you do that?!”

She didn’t even look in my direction, just kept talking, eventually saying good bye and hanging up.

Later, my mom reported the response from the other end: “That’s nice.”

Hey, I’ll take it.

“Do you think Sophie knew what she was doing?” I asked my mom.

“Of course.”

Me too.

This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for family members big and small, gruff and cuddly, and for a daughter who sees us all for what we are — and what we can be.


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Party Hat

A Happy Accident

posted Monday November 24th, 2014

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The sound of ceramic hitting Mexican tile was unmistakable. The only question: What broke?

I hauled myself off the couch to find Sophie in the kitchen doorway, a dish towel in hand, my favorite mug — sweetly shaped, with a pale pink floral pattern and an “a” to match Ray’s brown “r” version, so cute that I’d posted a photo on Instagram of our morning coffees side by side just the day before — in shards.

“It’s okay. But go put shoes on!” I ordered, shooing her away for safety. “Then come back and tell me what happened.”

As I gathered the broom and dust pan, I marveled at how seldom things break in our house. It’s more often an exuberant poodle than a kid with special needs. In fact, Sophie is the least clumsy person in the family, her fine motor skills diminished by Down syndrome but coaxed by years of therapy. She’s deliberate in her actions and rarely trips or spills, though at 11 she still requests her cranberry juice in a “to go cup with a lid” when we eat out.

Indeed, there was a good explanation. The cat was on the kitchen counter by the sink, Sophie explained. Sophie knows I hate it when the cat does that, so she tried to get Lulu down. (Sophie can often be spotted carrying the cat, Olivia the Pig-style, away from places where the cat’s not supposed to be.) The mug, set carefully on a dish towel to dry (too good for the dishwasher) was in the way, and slipped off the counter as Sophie grabbed the cat.

“Don’t worry about it!” I told Sophie, pulling her into a hug. “I’m just glad you are okay. Thank you for getting Lulu down.”

I was bummed, but we have other cups. I didn’t give it much thought. Not as much thought as Sophie did.

Last night, a few days after the incident, I was grabbing take-out for dinner when my phone rang. It was Sophie.

“If there’s a bag from As You Wish on the table when you get home you should open it,” she said, referring to the paint-your-own-pottery shop at the mall.

Sure enough, there it was — with “A” painted several times in bright red paint. Ray had gotten in on the act, too, making stripes on the other side.

“That’s the most beautiful mug I’ve ever seen!” I told both of them. It’s true, it is.

This morning, I’m sipping coffee out of my new mug — and contemplating an accident for Ray’s old coffee cup.

 


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Party Hat

The Benign Mitzvah

posted Thursday November 6th, 2014

 

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in synagogue.

No, I haven’t found religion. It’s bar/bat mitzvah season. Those kids my friends and family had 13 (or so) years ago are all grown up (sort of) and many are participating in the traditional coming-of-age ceremony for Jews.

I love watching these kids get up in front of dozens of people and practice what others have preached for centuries — continuing traditions, creating their own community, demonstrating pride in their heritage.

I want that for my own kids. Ray agrees. He was raised Catholic, but abandoned that ship long ago and we’ve raised our girls as Jews — if you count apples and honey at Rosh Hashanah and seders with themes like “Heavy Metal Seder” and “Passover on a Stick” at Passover. They’ve had no formal Jewish education; they are certainly not ready for bat mitzvahs.

And yet, if it’s going to happen, it’s time. Past due, actually.

So this afternoon, I have an appointment with a rabbi. I’m starting at the temple where I was bat mitzvahed. I called last week to get on the rabbi’s schedule and the receptionist asked me to spell my last name. I started very slowly then stopped and said, “I guess I don’t have to spell so slowly for you?”

She laughed. In Phoenix, one grows accustomed to spelling an “exotic” name like  Silverman several times — no one ever gets it right. I often find myself translating Yiddish terms,  explaining even the most basic Jewish holiday. My high school was lily white; as a Jew, I was the minority. I still am, most of the time. So are my girls.

Before Annabelle was born, Ray told me, “I want the girls to know they are Jewish. I don’t want someone else telling them.”

I loved that. But actually educating Annabelle about Judaism has been awkward, since she announced when she was a toddler that she doesn’t believe in god.

No surprise, springing from our firmly agnostic household. I stopped believing when I was in first grade — I remember where I was standing in the Temple Solel arts and crafts room, shellacking a challah or gluing macaroni into the shape of a Star of David, when I suddenly stopped and thought, “Oh, this is all supposed to be about god? Well, that’s ridiculous.”

I did enjoy the arts and crafts, though. And the music and feeling of community. But after my Bat Mitzvah, as I like to tell people, I took the Lucite and ran. (If you were around in the mid 70s, you’ll get the joke.) My religious education ended there — and I was guilty about that for a long time. I’m not anymore. I no longer went to services, and yet, my Jewish identity remained. I’m proud to be Jewish, and I still remember the words to the prayers, which I murmur along during all those bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies, feeling connected — to something, if not a traditional sense of god.

It’s hard to imagine Sophie having a bona fide bat mitzvah, which is on my list of things to discuss with the rabbi today. I have talked about it with the girls, and they decided they’d rather have a b’nai mitzvah, which means two people doing it together — and I love that idea. Annabelle says she doesn’t want the spotlight all to herself, she’d rather be there to help Sophie. Sophie says she’ll leave the Hebrew to Annabelle. I think they will both find meaning in studying Judaism and learning a torah portion (a story from the Old Testament), and Sophie’s already planning her “mitzvah project,” which involves giving back to the community in some way.

For my part, I like the idea of educating our friends about our heritage, putting together a program that explains the meaning behind the traditions. I haven’t seen a copy in years but I still remember the program my mom made for my bat mitzvah; she cut out tiny illustrations from The New Yorker and put them between the prayers and it made me feel so special.

Ray has been okay with it so far. “Huh?” he asked, when I told him the latest plan. “A benign mitzvah?”

That sounds about right to me. This morning I called to confirm my meeting with the rabbi. “Wait a second,” his secretary said. “He wrote it his calendar himself. Amy Silverstein?”

I’m not religious but I’m big on signs, and that might be a sign that this won’t be the right place for us. We may go rogue — but we’re going to do it, one way or another.  I’ll let you know when we have a date.


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Party Hat

Always Look a Gift A+ in the Mouth

posted Wednesday October 22nd, 2014

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I dragged myself into the house the other night after work, exhausted, preoccupied with how quickly I could make dinner and hit the couch, when Sophie stopped me in my tracks — literally.

“Look!” she said, pulling me over to the refrigerator, where she and the nanny had posted Sophie’s first junior high school report card.

“Can I sleep in your bed?” she asked. That’s Sophie’s question these days, pretty much anything might qualify her for her favorite reward, an all-night spot between her parents.

“Wait a second, let me see this,” I said, slowly digesting the grades. A B+ in Science, an A in Chorus, an A+ in Art. Okay.

But an A+ in Language Arts? I  knew Sophie had done very well on several vocabulary tests, learning words like anthropomorphic and sidle. Then I thought about the parent/teacher conference I attended a few weeks ago, and how the language arts teacher looked at me with sympathy and suggested that I buy Sophie a few books from the Madeline series so she gets the hang of actually finishing a book, rather than just collecting age-appropriate chapter books she’ll never read.  Now an A+?

And an A+ in math? Please. As far as I know, no one on either side of our family has ever gotten an A+ in math. And I’ve watched Sophie struggle with simple addition, let alone multiplying fractions, the current curriculum in her class.

An A+ is, I suppose, one way to keep an annoying parent from calling, right? In my case, not so much. For me, a grade like that is a red flag, a sure sign that my kid is your mascot, not your honors student. On the rare occasions I’ve taught over the years, I’ve avoided the A+ like the plague. Really, who’s deserving of that? And what incentive is there to go on, to improve?

And yet — that’s a pretty freaking awesome report card, right?

I stood in front of the fridge, resolving the call the teachers, but knowing I wouldn’t — not for a little while, anyway.  Sophie deserves to bask in the glow. I’ll take a little of it, too. I’ve never been the type to believe in an A for effort; in my world, you better put out the work befitting of the grade. But I’m often reminded that Sophie has rocked my world — in a good way.

I turned from the refrigerator and reached down for the littlest sixth grader ever, pulling her into a hug.

“YES!” I said. “You can sleep in my bed tonight. I couldn’t be prouder of you!”

And I meant it.

 


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Party Hat

Sneakers

posted Wednesday October 15th, 2014

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Last week, Annabelle and her good friend Sophia performed a song in front of their entire school. I’m partial, but I can’t stop watching the video — or asking Annabelle to perform the song for me again or to write down the lyrics. Annabelle wrote the song (among others) and taught herself to play the ukulele this summer. I love that she has music as an outlet — particularly since Sophie shuts me down every time I so much as hum. Here are the girls’ audition video and the song lyrics. I hear that next they are planning to perform a song by Sophia. I can’t wait.

SNEAKERS

People gathered in a park
all the sneers, all the remarks about people’s sneakers oh oh.
Some were weaker, some were cheaper, some would only last a week
or some were just a little bit old fashioned.
But they all run fast,
they all won’t last forever.
And I’ll bet you that they’ll bring someone together.

(CHORUS)
Cause everyone needs everyone
and everything needs everything.

People gathered in a mall
all whispering to the wall about people’s purses oh oh.
Some were weaker, some were cheaper, some would only last a week
or some were just a little bit old fashioned.
But they all carry,
they all bring stuff wherever.
And I’ll bet you that they’ll bring someone together.

(CHORUS)
Cause everyone needs everyone
and everything needs everything.

ukeWe all depend on the end
and we all started at the heart.
Until we think about our plan to understand this world
then we all put on sour faces and insult other people’s sneakers.
Is that what this is all about now?
(REPEAT)

(ukulele solo)


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Party Hat

The Specials: Happily Ever After?

posted Monday October 6th, 2014

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From almost the beginning, I have had one wish for Sophie: that she get married, have great sex and live happily ever after.

I didn’t — and still don’t — have the career thing worked out, or the living situation, or a lot of other things I agree are equally important. (And yeah, yeah, all up to Sophie. I know. I’m a control freak.) But I know I want Sophie to find her soul mate, someone who can be the recipient of all that love. (As long as she saves a cuddle for her mother.)

I want the same for her older sister. But I’ve always figured that with Annabelle, it would be more complicated. I know from my own experience that I tend to overthink a lot of things in life — particularly love. I envision Annabelle having the same struggles.

But not Sophie.

I’m beginning to see how naive I’ve been.

As you might imagine, from almost the beginning I’ve latched onto the occasional stories you see in the paper about couples with Down syndrome (or other developmental disabilities) meeting, falling in love, and living happily ever after.

At least, I assume things end well, because I haven’t ever run across a follow up. Not that I’ve looked so hard because to be honest, I’ve enjoyed these love stories, and the fantasy that comes along with them.

There was a terrific example on the front page of yesterday’s New York Times. I read it while I was getting a pedicure, gobbled up every word, shed a few tears. You really should read the story, regardless of my obsession with the topic – it’s a wonderful piece of journalism.

And it ended with a happy couple. Just how I like it.

I put the story down with a satisfied sigh, but something was nagging at me. It was The Specials. The Specials is a reality TV show based in Brighton, England — think The Real World, but with people with Down syndrome (and one with Williams syndrome, an intellectual disability somewhat similar to autism). Oprah’s network aired a marathon of episodes of The Specials on Memorial Day weekend, and I taped them — then binge watched them.

It was a car crash. I couldn’t look away. Typically, I’m very careful about getting too much of a glimpse of the future — rather, Sophie’s future. I don’t linger with the older women at Special Olympics practices, don’t frequent support group meetings. I even resisted Glee for a long time. But I’m a reality TV junkie and I fell hard for The Specials, even though it was hard to watch at times.

The main characters are young adults in their early 20s, finding their way in college (sort of — life skills classes), work (mostly sorting in the back of a thrift store) and love. They live together in a very pleasant group home that appears to be a perfect setting; they travel frequently and the staff only appears briefly but seems lovely.

In a lot of ways, the show is good. Probably the best case scenario even, right? But the relationships depicted feel forced and faked and none of them seem to work out so well. I could be reading things wrong, but it never felt like any of the people in the show even came close to understanding what it meant to fall in love and have a significant other.

That could be the perils of reality TV, for sure. Or it could be Down syndrome. In any case, it was too much for me. Ray would walk back and forth past the living room as I watched, stopping to shake his head. “Don’t watch that,” he’d say. But it was too late. I finished the last episode, and I haven’t been able to make myself delete them off the DVR. In fact, I invited a friend over to watch them again with me, so we can compare notes and see if our kids with Down syndrome seem like those kids with Down syndrome.

Tea leaves.

Sophie is not ready for a boyfriend. She’s still madly in love with Niall from One Direction (she claims he stared at her for the entire concert she attended last month). That’s fine with me. Watching The Specials, I realized that love will be as hard for her as it is for any other young person. Maybe harder.

And so maybe The Specials did me a favor. I’m not sure. I’m too close. You should watch it and tell me what you think.

For now, I think I’ll stick to newspaper stories.


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Party Hat

Small Kindnesses

posted Wednesday October 1st, 2014

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The other day I opened Sophie’s school backpack and noticed she had a new set of folders — shiny, carefully labeled with each of her classes and in her favorite themes, kittens and nail polish. Her aide did it. She didn’t ask, or make a big deal out of it. She just did it, knowing Sophie would love it. And she did. Me, too.

A small kindness. There have been many, so far, as Sophie’s stuck a toe into junior high, a time and place typically considered the worst kind of viper pit. Not for Sophie, not so far. I get that we’re only two months in; there’s plenty of time left for problems, and we’ve had a few bumps so far. But not what I expected, certainly not what I feared.

My biggest fear, after safety, was friendship. Would Sophie wander around alone (with her adult shadow) — head down in that typical Down syndrome stance, with (horror) her thumb in her mouth? Would anyone talk to her? Would she make a real friend? I got an inkling things would be okay even before the first day of school, when we walked into the office to drop some paperwork off with the nurse and a kid I’ve never seen called out, “Hi Sophie!”

Even at a new, strange place, people know Sophie. And on the few occasions I’ve been on campus, it’s been the same. Kids and adults know her, seek her out, if only to say hello.

And beyond hello? It’s going more slowly, understandably. Sophie does still eat lunch every day with an old friend from elementary school who also happens to have Down syndrome. But a note came home the other day from a new girlfriend looking for a playdate. And I hear there’s a boy in Sophie’s art class who carefully arranges all of her materials each day so they are ready when she arrives.

A small kindness, and one I hope I didn’t end after Sophie proposed marriage to this boy.

Sophie has attended her first school dance, performed in her first junior high choir concert and later this month she’ll try out for cheer. The school has started a Best Buddies program; in a couple weeks she’ll be matched with her buddy. Sophie’s teachers report that she pays attention in class (probably not all the time) and raises her hand to answer questions posed to the group. She got a C on a recent science test that she took with no modifications. She still struggles in math.

This school has embraced my little girl. I called with a concern the other day, and I received a call back before day’s end from not just one administrator, but a group: the principal, vice principal, school psychologist and sixth grade team leader. The matter was quickly resolved, and I thanked them (profusely) for being so responsive, and so welcoming to Sophie.

“She’s already taught us so much,” one of them said with a happy sigh.

For her part, Sophie is still not so sure about junior high. Every morning, it’s a struggle to get her into her uniform and into the car, and when we drive past the turn off for the other neighborhood junior high — the one her best friend and most of her former classmates attend — she tells me, “I want to go to Sarah’s school.”

When we pull up to Sophie’s school, her sweet aide comes right to the car to get her. But she doesn’t want to get out. Sticks her thumb in her mouth, puts her head down, mutters that she’s tired. Junior high is really hard. I imagine the energy it takes Sophie to wind up and get going, to keep her thumb out of her mouth, her head up. Some days, kitten folders just aren’t going to be enough of a motivator.

After I drop her off I drive to the gym, and I will admit that I, too, have trouble getting out of the car to start my own day.

I hope sixth grade gets easier for Sophie, but really, I have to admit that she’s got it pretty good, hit the middle school jackpot. How do I explain to her that I’ve never encountered a kid — special needs or not — having such a good junior high experience?

For now I’ll focus on the small kindnesses, and hope that someday Sophie can, too.


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Party Hat

Well Check

posted Friday September 26th, 2014

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Sophie had her annual well-check yesterday. It was blissfully uneventful.

She is still in the third percentile for both height and weight, she caught air when she was asked to jump up and down, and no one even mentioned her twice-mended heart — though the pediatrician did give it an extra-long listen.

As he turned to leave the exam room, Dr. Alexander stopped and turned to me, file in hand, gesturing to Sophie.

“She’s really special,” he said. My heart melted because I knew he didn’t mean it in a special needs kind of way — and when you have a kid with Down syndrome, you just don’t hear the word special in any other context.

I love our pediatrician. David Alexander has practiced in Phoenix forever; in fact, he’s been around so long his mentor was my pediatrician. I have to schlep across town to make it happen but it’s worth it to bring the girls to the same practice.

Even though I probably should have found Sophie a “special needs” pediatrician as soon as she was born, it turns out that Dr. Alexander was  exactly the doctor we needed.  He’s a generalist. I have no idea how many patients he’s had with Down syndrome over the years — it can’t have been many.

I know there’s at least one besides Sophie because 11 years later I still remember a conversation Dr. Alexander and I had right after she was born.

It was her first or second pediatrician visit, and even today I can clearly picture the doctor standing over my tiny infant, listening to her heart (this time there was lots of discussion of that, with surgery in the offing) and feeling her abdomen for obstructions.

“You know,” he said, turning to me,  his hands on Sophie to keep her safe on the exam table, “I have another patient with Down syndrome. He is in third grade. He’s doing so well! Fully integrated in a mainstream class!”

And then he grinned.

At that point, I didn’t even know what integrated and mainstream meant. I just knew that there was a kid out there with Down syndrome who was thriving. Dr. Alexander said so. He was proud of him.

It was a tiny moment. I’m sure the doctor didn’t give it a second thought. But I lived off that conversation for years, thinking about that kid.

Yesterday, I filled Dr. Alexander in on Sophie’s accomplishments as he examined her — that she’s swimming, taking ballet, writing a play, that she’s mainstreamed in sixth grade.

“Really?” he said, turning from that same spot in front of the exam table,  his hands on Sophie to keep her safe. “Wow! That’s really something.”

He grinned.

After the exam, Sophie was allowed to pick out a sticker from the nurse, choosing from a chart displaying a half-dozen options. Somehow she talked her way into one of each, handing me Grover because she knows he’s my favorite. I smiled at the nurse and thanked Sophie, my mind elsewhere.

I was wondering, one day would another family come to see Dr. Alexander with a baby with Down syndrome and would he tell them, “You know, I have another patient with Down syndrome and she’s in sixth grade, and she’s doing so well!”

And would that mom grab onto that comment like a life line?

Even if Sophie hadn’t ultimately been mainstreamed in school, even if circumstances had prevented her from doing a lot of what she can do now, I think I’d still be incredibly grateful to Dr. Alexander, because as parents, we all need hope.

Think about your typical kid. When he or she was born, no one put any limits on what that kid would be able to do. No one questioned his or her worth to society, or assured you off the bat that this kid would never drive or have kids or leave your side. The sky was the limit. Yeah, as kids grow we realize that like everyone they have their strengths and weaknesses. But they enter the world with hope on their side.

That’s what Dr. Alexander gave me that day with the story of that third grader. That little boy would be 19 now. I never met him, never learned any more about him. I wonder how he’s doing. But to be honest, I don’t wonder too hard. I know life gets harder for people with Down syndrome as they get older (for all of us, to be sure, but particularly in this case) so I don’t want to know if he struggles with depression or doesn’t have friends or got leukemia.

I’ll always hold onto the image of that third grader, and I’ll always be grateful to Dr. Alexander.


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Amy Silverman
Amy Silverman has two beautiful daughters, Annabelle and Sophie. Sophie has Down syndrome. These days, Amy divides the world into two groups: the people who adore Sophie, and those who don’t look twice. Amy has to remind herself that once upon a time -- when it came to people who are "different" -- she fell in the latter category. And therein lies the blog... Read more
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