Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sensitive

Samantha has always had so much empathy.  I've heard this mentioned a lot about people with Down syndrome.  She seems to really feel, deep down inside her, when someone else is sad or hurt.  So much so that for the last few years her gauge of whether or not everything is copacetic is to ask, "Are you happy?"  It's almost heartbreaking, because I worry that if she's asking, she may sense that something is less than perfect.  Usually she asks when everything is just fine, but she still wants (needs) to be sure.

I had previously blogged about her delicate ability to sense another's emotions here  and also here.  Below are just a few additional and more recent examples (although there are hundreds more):

Sammi has a little friend at school with cerebral palsy, who she just adores.  She mentions him all the time, and when I've seen them together, she just dotes on him, hugging him and kissing him, looking out for him.  It's not like he can jump out of his wheelchair to run and play with her, but there's something about her need to care for someone that draws her to him, I think.  He is also quite smitten with her, according to his mother.  She senses the weakness in others and is likewise very gentle with babies and animals.  Not like I'm comparing her friend with babies or animals, but those examples seemed to fit best here...

As I was putting her to bed the other night, I mentioned to her that my neck really hurt.  I had slept funny the previous night, and was really stiff, with pain every time I turned my head.  She gently touched my shoulder and said something to the effect of "Dr. Sammi make it better."  The next morning when she woke up, one of the first things she did was ask if my neck was better.  I nearly laughed!  My headaches, stubbed toes and other bumps, bruises and maladies (yes, I'm a klutz) all get the same sweet treatment.  Dr. Sammi, indeed!

Sunday afternoon, while I was trying to show something to her, she kept pushing my hand away and whining that she wanted me to stop and that she didn't want to look at the proffered toy.  I knew she was a bit sleepy, but we've been trying to teach her that she still needs to listen and not to whine.  I told her firmly that I wasn't going to play with her if she was going to be cranky.  We went on to something else.  A few minutes later, I randomly asked her for a hug (trust me, you can never ask for that too much - they're totally worth it!).  Her response was to launch herself into my arms, squeezing me tightly, saying, "Mommy, I'm sorry I cranky." 

Nearly broke my heart. 

That acknowledgement of her poor behavior made me question whether or not I'd overreacted in the first place.  I know I shouldn't second-guess myself, because I know I gave her some constructive stuff to think about, and I know I didn't actually overreact, I just stated my piece very simply.  I guess I just didn't expect her comprehension to be as complete as it was.  That'll teach me to underestimate this kid...  And believe me, she was good as gold after that.

Her sensitive and empathic nature must be where her obsession of doctors comes from.  It just comes naturally.  Granted, she has never really had a bad experience with any doctors (well, not including the ever-awful strep tests and not any others that she can remember, anyway, given that open heart surgery has to be pretty traumatic).  I don't know what career Sammi will have when she's older, and while I know that she can't be a doctor (oh, how I hate to use that word, "can't"), I suspect she could easily have a job as some sort of medical assistant or a caregiver.  She's not even 5 yet (Ack!  Less than a week away!!), but I can already say that the world would be a much better place with more people like her in it.

For anyone that still doesn't believe it, trust me, that extra chromosome is a beautiful thing.

10 comments:

Chromosomally Enhanced said...

I love that Sammi has "it" empathy...it cannot be taught...well it can -but...it is hard to do..I still struggle with empathy...and I love that Max has it...it is one of my most proud characteristics of him...Chad always says if his high school students has a little bit of caring for others high school would be a better learning environment...I am not sure Maddie has this...she is in the stage of causing more pain...but she does love hugs...and really there is not much better then that...I love to think of the future these days...Sammi will be great because she has you all that love her and expect more...smiles

tekeal said...

may all be blessed by dr. sammi's sweet attention! (here in switzerland there's a short children's song that is sung when someone gets hurt, plus blowing on the owie, so we get livia's version of the song, a kiss, a blow and then the question: "better??")

Anna said...

Ive posted about this character trait with our little one too. We are in the process of getting to know each other still and learning how to communicate. One of her first spoken words was happy, along with signing it. "appyyyy" I LOVE it! Very early on I noticed there were times that she said it but it seemed more like she was asking instead of stating her own emotions. I wondered if I was being self centered or if she really was asking me??? I agree with you when you speak of Sammi comprehending more than you expected and your guilt. its a fine balance. I am so thankful that we dont have to be perfect.

Becca said...

Anna - I'm willing to bet she was asking!! That's awesome!

Lacey said...

I think Sammi will break the cycle and be the first DS doctor! How sweet that she loves on that cute boy!

Jenny said...

Aww, Dr. Sammi!! Thats so sweet!

Lori said...

I love this post! I can totally see Sammi working in the medical field as a nurse or caregiver to the elderly.

And, I agree -- can't ask for too many hugs =)

mama to j and bean said...

What an amazing little girl and wonderful mommy to embrace and encourage her extraordinary ability to empathize!

Renee said...

Great post. You are a great mom and you shouldn't second guess yourself!

Crazy Beautiful Love said...

It IS a beautiful thing! Love this post. :)