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Are You There God? It’s Me, Amy

posted Monday October 24th, 2011

The other day, my mother announced that Annabelle had recently announced to her that Annabelle’s glad we don’t make her go to temple because she doesn’t believe in any of that stuff — at all — and I knew that the window had definitely shut.

Aside from a little guilt, I’m fine with that. I remember the moment in First Grade when I realized I didn’t buy any of it myself — but I held on through the Bat Mitzvah and the personalized Lucite gifts, not really sure why I was doing it. (I do mourn the lack of traditions, but we try to keep those up, as you know if you’ve read much of this blog.)

Annabelle has two committed agnostics (if there can be such a thing) for parents. Why wouldn’t she be the same?

It does mean performing without a net, this non-religious thing. And sometimes that’s easier than other times. Particularly (bitterly honest moment coming here) where Sophie is concerned. Sure, it would be nice to feel like everything was pre-ordained, that Sophie was sent from above with a message.

Some days I feel like maybe she was, maybe there is. Others, I’m just exhausted. Yesterday, out of the blue, Sophie fell into a particularly cranky mood and began both ordering me around and refusing to do what I asked, hollering, “Capisce?!”

“Which mobster movies are you letting her watch?” my sister asked. I had to admit that it was sort of adorable. More and more, Sophie’s testing the waters of sophistication — coming up with creative outfits (like the morning she lied and told Ray it was “Crazy Sock Day” at school) and renaming our friend Kathy’s cat Hot Cocoa.

It’s cute, but the subtext is increasingly troubling. Here’s an example.

The other day, she marched into the kitchen with a copy of “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” and announced she was going to read and watch TV. She plopped herself at the kitchen table, grabbed the remote and, using OnDemand (which I’m not quite sure how to access myself), found an episode of Blues Clues.

It was so cute. So cute I made it my Facebook status update and joked about it all day at work. Later, it occurred to me that it’s not funny at all. Sophie made it maybe to page 2 of the book — it’s way too tough for her at this point, perhaps not the words but definitely the concepts — and really just sat and watched a show designed for toddlers.

She’s 8 now, almost 8 and a half, as she reminds me several times a day. What’s going to happen when she really does need that book, the way that I and every woman/girl I know between myself and Annabelle has needed that book? And not just to teach her about pads and belts (which are obsolete, anyhow) but to help her figure out how she’s feeling — to figure out why, as a friend with a kid Annabelle’s age said this morning, she’s suddenly acting like Sybil?

I’ll be screwed. At least I think I will, looking at it now. From today’s vantage point, it’ll be the kind of thing only a higher power can address. Too bad you can’t put “get religion” on the To Do list. I can’t, anyway.

And somehow I know that “Pink Slip” is not going to cut it.

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Tags: Filed under: Down syndrome by Amysilverman

2 Responses to “Are You There God? It’s Me, Amy”

  1. “It does mean performing without a net, this non-religious thing.”

    That reminded me of a Yann Martel interview I read, in which Martel described a good story and a good religion as working in the same way. Martel said, “It’s called ‘suspension of disbelief’ in fiction. It’s called ‘faith’ in religion. A story only works if we let it work, if we open our hearts to it. The saddest thing on earth is people who have no stories.”

    While you might not have began the adventure called Sophie with a ready made net under you, I think you are constructing one – bit by bit, story by story.

  2. None of the good religions have neat, pat answers anyway. Don’t confuse “get religion” with “get certainty.” Certainty comes with stupidity, I think, and you’re not about to get that.

    Religion is about mystery — or at least, it is at its best. Religion is also about community, ritual, and forgiveness of oneself and others. And I think you already have all that.

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