Monday, October 18, 2010

Day 18: A Pure and Giving Heart

I'm reasonably certain that I and many other people with children with Down syndrome have thoroughly dispelled the myth that people with Down syndrome are always happy.  We know first-hand that this is most certainly not the case.  Just take a look at my post a week or so ago, "Trying Too Hard."  I'm pretty sure those first two photos spoke volumes against that. 

One thing that I do believe about our kids (please correct me if you think I'm wrong) is that they have innately pure and giving hearts.  Certainly, my daughter is only 4 years old.  And there's something pure and giving about most 4 year olds, I'm sure.  But it's different somehow.  Here's an example...

Samantha and I drove up to New Jersey this weekend to visit some friends and my family.  Yesterday, on our way back home, we stopped in to see my grandmother, who is in an assisted living home.  My aunt came with us, because I wasn't too sure my grandmother would recognize me, and I felt that having that familiar presence, the person who visits her regularly and often, would help any disorientation.  As it is, I'm not sure she really did recognize me, but she's pretty good at faking it, accepting that we were there, and truly enjoying watching Samantha wander around her room, moving stuffed animals from their places on her couch to her bed, pretending to put them down for a nap, or picking up her phone and pretending to have a conversation with someone.  We didn't stay very long, as Samantha was very tired and cranky, overdue for the nap I hoped she'd have on the long car ride home, but I was so glad we got to see my grandmother.  It's been too long.  

As Sammi and I passed through the lobby of the building, there were a number of residents, perhaps 7 or 8, sitting on chairs and couches in front of a fire (!! It was 75 degress outside!!).  I could hear them remarking to each other how cute Samantha was, and I felt a need to make a difference in their day no matter how fleeting.  I pulled Samantha after me, and as I entered the circle, saw their faces light up when I let go of her hand and asked her to go say hello to everyone.  And, one by one, she did just that.  She walked up to each person, flashed her sweetest, most heart-melting smile, said hello, and leaned in for a hug.  And, one by one, the residents smiled, perhaps recalling their own great-grandchildren.  One said, "How did you get her to be so friendly?  Most kids her age just aren't interested."  That made me a little sad, but absolutely thrilled on the inside that Samantha could brighten the day of so many other people who really needed her little shining light.  Hey, who needs therapy dogs when we've got a sweet little 4 year old with an extra chromosome?  

I was unable to get any photos of the "meet and greet" in the great room because I was too busy keeping Samantha's hands out of the personal belongings stored in the baskets affixed to every walker or wheelchair she passed.  Below is a photo of Samantha and me with Gamie (as she's always been called, possibly from one of my older cousins who was unable to say "Gramma" as a child).  

Hey, I think there's an extra stuffed toy that doesn't belong in that basket! Can any of you spot Sammi's naked Olivia?

(Funny, quick story about Olivia this weekend - we went to the zoo on Saturday, and as we were walking around, Samantha suddenly said, insistently, "Olivia!" I thought she wanted the stuffed doll I had with me in my bag, kept at all times for emergencies. But nooooo, Sammi wrenched herself free from my grip on her hand, ran up to a man who was walking with his little girl who looked to be about her age, and grabbed something out of his hand - a clothed Olivia doll, just like hers! The little girl (who happened to be dressed similarly to her doll) was not too happy about the snatching, and Samantha was only soothed when I pulled her own Olivia out of my bag. I was pretty proud of myself, feeling like a very well-prepared mom.)


Renee said...

She is such a sweetie. I also love the Olivia story.

Zoey's mom said...

Great pictures.and so funny about the Olivia doll!

I totally agree about the innate goodness in our children.One of the things we noticed about Zoey,when she was still very young and hindered by life circumstance,she was very,almost advanced in this strange way,in being extremely intuitive to people and feelings.Still is.And charming.Scooting her way around church yesterday,waving and smiling to everyone.I try and dispel that rumor that "all Down syndrome" people are friendly and loving but Zoey blows that right out of the water with her need to hug and kiss everyone!

Drop you an email.

Jen said...

"Hey, who needs therapy dogs when we've got a sweet little 4 year old with an extra chromosome?" made me laugh out loud. Too cute!!

my family said...

what sweet pictures so nice that she made those people feel so happy