Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day 11: Little Miss Independent

Oh, how bittersweet it is...

One of the things I (and I'm sure I'm not alone in this...) worried about when Samantha was born and we received her diagnosis of Down syndrome, was whether or not my child would ever grow up to be independent. Independence is such a grown-up concept, one that "typical" children start to assert and seek pretty early on, pushing harder as the teen years progress into adulthood. And then there comes the time when the young adult, suddenly realizing that they have a pretty good deal, living in their parent's basement, gets pushed out of the nest and forced into independence by parents, who have had enough.

I pictured a slack-jawed, blank-faced woman-child, holding my hand, shuffling just a little bit behind me, completely uninterested in our surroundings. I knew that independence was a myth, a distant dream, an impossibility.

Sure, my ignorance about Trisomy 21 gave way to every stereotype there ever was. And then I began to learn that those distant dreams may not be so distant after all.

I could go through all of the reasons why and how I figured out just how wrong I was, but here's a shining new example, a brilliant, beautiful, yet heartbreaking moment that showed me just what my little girl is made of.

She wanted to walk to school by herself.

Last Thursday, the moment we turned the corner and hit the sidewalk in front of the school, Sammi wanted nothing more to do with me. Not. A. Thing. She told me, in no uncertain terms, to stay put, stop walking, she would do it "all by myself!" I shadowed her along the walk, through the entrance, down the hall, keeping back far enough to satisfy her, as she oozed confidence and maturity, slipping into the sea of other students, one amongst many within the tide as they all pushed towards their classrooms when the first bell rang. Hovering outside her classroom door, I peeked in, unseen by her, and watched her take off her backpack, remove her folder from inside, and place it on the pile for the teacher. She caught a glimpse of me, but carried on, and, after letting one of her teachers know, I turned and walked home, a little sad, but still very proud.

I knew it would not be an isolated incident, knew the very next morning that she would not be limiting her independence to the sidewalk in front of the school, was prepared for what was to come next. The very next morning, the walk on her own began at our doorstep.

"Stop walking, Mommy! Wait your turn! I going to school all by myself!" Yep, that's what I got if she caught me tailing her. She didn't mind that I was behind her, she just didn't want to see me moving.

I have to say, though, that she walked an awful lot faster when she was on her own, much less distracted, so much more purposeful, confident, strong, independent

And it was awesome.

13 comments:

Than4Keeps said...

Oh gosh...what an amazing darlin! It still tug at the string of my heart every time we drop Ethan off at school while we stand and watch him walk with his teacher and the rest of his classmate. As he walked closer to the door, I just stand and wait for a quick glance, a smile and a wave while he mouth "bye mommy" then throws me a kiss.

Patti said...

okay, once again a gigantic lump in my throat. LOVE THIS!

Mrs. K said...

Your story sounds so typical of ALL children at that tender young age. All three of ours went through the same scenerio but lucky for me there were older children in the neighborhood to help. Sammi is adorable. I am Lilybird's Grammi.

Lisa said...

so great! and I think I completely understand how you feel - I cheer Cate's independance at the same time I have to hold myself back from grabbing her hand to keep her with me. She got her daddy last week - when he dropped her off at school she unbuckled her own seatbelt, got out of the car, shook her head no to the para-pro who was ready to help her, joined a group of little girls and headed into the school. He said he got teary and could explain if it was because he was happy or sad.

Deb said...

I am totally crying over here!

Go Samantha!

Chromosomally Enhanced said...

that is AWESOME! sad because she is your baby and dont you just want to keep them in your arms forever...but then on the the other hand watch them grown and flourish...catch 22! love this could totally see and hear this happening! smiles

Cindy said...

Congratulations! Like I always say, life with secial needs is more normal than you think!

tekeal said...

great, great, great!! livia's independence wings are developing in similar ways...

Jenny said...

Most definitely a bitter sweet moment!! It's always a little sad seeing our kids grow up and become more independent...But also a very, very proud feeling!
I love hearing how grown up and independent Sammi is becoming! It's wonderful that she wants to do so much on her own :)

stephanie said...

Why am I crying??? Seriously ?

So proud of Sammi!!

stephanie said...

OMG just saw the video of Sammi reading!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I could eat her up in a second! And we(Bella and I) just about died every time she said "what's that word?"
so glad I saw that, i missed it when you posted it.
Bella wants to steal her!

Pallavi said...

Awww... That must have been so so wonderful to watch.. Thanks for sharing, Sammi gives me inspiration. And seriously, our kidos prove so many times that they are more capable than what we think they are..
I have stopped listening or thinking about those 'children with DS can not ....' things...

Love to Sammi

JRS said...

I LOVE this. I'm weepy with pride for Sammi. Way to go girl!
---Jen