Stop This Merry Go Round!

posted Tuesday August 17th, 2010

The other night, we hit the mall for Toy Story 3 and some food court action. The movie was great, the food terrible, nothing unexpected. And I wasn’t surprised when Sophie begged to ride the carousel.

Typically, I’m the Carousel Girl — happy to take Sophie on it again and and again while Ray and Annabelle do the roller coasters — but this particular merry go round is too small and too fast, and the last time I rode it I almost lost my food court lunch. Even Ray refused, and I’ve never known him to admit getting sick on a ride.

“I’ll do it!” Annabelle piped up. “I’ll take her!”

I shot her a look of gratitude. And I felt more than a little guilty, watching the girls sit together on the bench (the horses were out of the question for Sophie with no adult there, and anyhow, she’d rather sit), with Annabelle pretending (sort of) to barf over the side as the thing spun.

More and more, these days, Annabelle’s been jumping up to try to make things right. On our recent camping trip, I noticed she chastized her sister a little more than necessary, but also that she tried really hard (as I do) to find creative ways to get her to comply. Annabelle and I fall into a pattern — she’s totally exasperated with Sophie, and I jump in, laughing, with a solution that gets the little one to behave. Or vice versa. Increasingly, it’s vice versa.

I haven’t written much about Sophie and second grade, mostly because I don’t really know yet what to expect. She’s got Annabelle’s teacher, a dear, sweet soul with tons of teaching experience and a heart of gold. I feel comfortable leaving Sophie with her each morning (which is saying A LOT) but I will admit I’m not sure how things will go this year, academically. Actually, that’s not true. I have a strong idea of things will go — I just don’t really want to face that yet.

As usual, Ray pulls me into reality. This morning he took a look at the second grade teacher’s weekly newsletter and announced there was no way Sophie could do the curriculum. I know, I told him. And they know that. But the theory is that Sophie should be with her peers for a lot of reasons, and she’ll be pulled out more and more for special ed. She’ll be okay.

“Poor little girl,” he said, groaning.

Yeah, I replied, but as is usually the case, my thoughts were half with Annabelle as I said it. Her year holds great promise — good friends in her class, a teacher with a solid reputation (and a big pregnant belly; she’ll be on maternity leave, soon, leaving us with the uncertainty of a sub) — and yet, it also holds Sophie.

So far, from what I can tell (and I’ve been putting my reporter skills to the test) no one’s teased Annabelle or held it against her, that she’s got a “different” sister. But it’s coming. I know it is. And I dread it. I know I’m biased, but the last person on earth (aside from Sophie, of course) who deserves any sort of ostracism (is that even a word?) is my dear, sweet Annabelle — the best sister in the world.

Some days I long to push forward. But other days, I wish I could stop time, stay a bit longer in what I’ve come to think of as our family’s Salad Days. Stay at a place where Annabelle’s proud of her sister, where Sophie’s academics haven’t yet faltered beyond repair, where life is good and — for us, anyway — uncomplicated.

A place where Annabelle’s still happy to jump on the merry go round with her sister, even it does make her a little queasy.

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Tags: Filed under: Down syndrome, family, public school, sisters by Amysilverman

6 Responses to “Stop This Merry Go Round!”

  1. wow, i could read your stories over and over. and i do, often i go back to the beginning and read your blog from the start. this is tough. the tears were starting to flow as i read this, but not because i felt bad for annabelle having a sister with ds, but the fact that kids are cruel. the truth is, it’s going to happen either way, whether it’s sophie’s ds, or annabelle’s(beautiful) curly hair or someone’s fat butt or big nose. kids are so mean. and girls are 10times worse than boys. i think every parent has this fear for their child, but i’m confident that annabelle will handle the situation if/when it comes, just perfectly.

  2. Loved your post – as always! Which mall has a carousel and roller coasters? My kids both love the carousel but would be thrilled if I took them to a mall wiht a roller coaster too! (Or do you mean at an amusement park for the roller coaster vs. carousel?)

  3. Well I’m teary over here.
    What a wonderful sister Annabelle is.

    Beautiful post. And I know exactly what you mean.
    One day at a time, my friend.

  4. i have a feeling Annabelle can hold her own. When people make the comments you are fearing, I think she’s going to look incredulously at them and move forward. I think her love for her sisters is going to over power any other emotion.

  5. oh, no roller coaster, just a not-very-good carousel at Arizona Mills Mall. :)

  6. Thanks. That is a GREAT pic of the girls! I agree with the earlier post that Annabelle will be able to hold her own.

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