After School Hugs

posted Friday April 11th, 2014

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This morning Sophie burst through the kitchen door — fresh from a shower, wrapped in a towel — and announced, “I look like a full-grown woman!”

I smiled. Adorable? Yes. Full-grown woman? Hardly. True, she didn’t have the towel draped over her shoulders like a little kid, but at 43 inches and 54 pounds, dripping wet, my fifth grader still gets confused with the kindergarteners at her elementary school.

That’s okay with me. I prefer it to what’s coming next year in junior high. i picture a herd of giant tweens and teens barreling down the hallways of the new school, trampling little Sophie without even realizing it.

She has no idea what’s coming. And for all I know, instead she’ll emerge victorious — held aloft on the shoulders of members of the JV football team, crowd surfed through middle school.

Most likely it’ll be something in between.

One thing I can pretty much guarantee: I’ll always get a hug after school. One of our beloved nannies is out of town this week, so Ray picked Sophie up from school yesterday. This morning (still in PJs, pre-shower/towel) she jumped into his arms and he recalled how good it made him feel to have Sophie run across the school yard to him yesterday, so excited to see her dad. Sophie’s aide told Ray she’d talked about it all day. This afternoon it’ll be my turn. I can’t wait.

You can’t always take it for granted that a kid will offer physical affection in public. I know that. It’s been many years, but I still recall clearly a day when Annabelle was 7. We were walking up to school and I asked shyly if I could hold her hand. She said yes. “Oh Annabelle, how much longer will you let me do that?” I asked. “I don’t know,” she replied, looking a little shy herself.

A long time, as it turns out. Annabelle still takes my hand at the mall, still leans in for a hug in public. (Not always — she is on the verge of 13, after all. The hormones are beginning to simmer.) Every time I feel that small, soft hand slip into mine, it makes me think I’ve done something right as a mom.

Annabelle is affectionate — but subtly, appropriately so. Sophie’s desire to be a grown-up does not extend to public displays of affection. I know that this afternoon she’ll get a running start and leap into my arms as though we haven’t seen each other in years. I’d say she’ll make a scene, but everyone in the school yard knows her so well, they won’t give it more than a passing smile.

Junior high won’t be that way.

Should I start training Sophie now to tone it down? This afternoon, should I stop her short, give her a quick pat, quiet her when she shrieks, “MOMMY!”?

Maybe I should. But I won’t. Not today. We still have a few months. In any case, for all I know, I’ll go to pick Sophie up on that first day of junior high and she’ll greet me calmly — no hug, no squeals, just another cool sixth grader.

Maybe. But probably not. And that’s more okay with me than I want to admit.

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Tags: Filed under: Down syndrome by Amysilverman

2 Responses to “After School Hugs”

  1. I love your stories, and your daughters. I have three and as they get older they hug and kiss me in public. There was a time, when they didn’t like me so much. As they become adults and realize how fast the days fly they become more loving. It makes my mother heart so proud. As yours must be too!

  2. In sixth grade, and probably some other times, I often walked home a block for lunch. One day my mom was holding the peanut butter jar and I gave her a hug and knocked her down. Everybody adjusts when necessary.

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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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