I've known for quite some time that Samantha has one heck of an imagination. Her ability to conduct imaginative play began way back when with putting her dolls to bed, and has evolved into mini-plays about being a waiter or a customer in a restaurant, or being a shopkeeper or a customer in a store. Imaginary product is exchanged for imaginary money, or real product exchanged for the play money in her toy cash register, and the politeness with which she conducts her business would put most retailers/restaurateurs to shame. She could definitely teach them a thing or two about customer service...
I mean, if you don't like your job, get another one! Ohhh, don't get me started...20 years of retail have made me such a discerning and critical audience for good or bad service...
I actually started this post a long time ago, and for some reason set it on the back burner. But each and every day I see how much Samantha has to offer others, to offer the community at large, to offer people in need. I suspect that the extra chromosome she has comes equipped with an empathy gene. One that makes her care. About just about everything. And trust me, this kid has an eagle eye and nothing gets past her.
Especially boo boos.
The kid is fascinated by them. Well, by the boo boos of other people, at least. Not so much her own. She freaks out about her own, won't let you so much as look at them, which poses some problems, as you can imagine.
But dare to show her a band aid, a scratch, a mole, sun burn, even a pillow line on your face, and she's all over it like white on rice. And trust me, she'll be keeping an eye on it, too. Just this morning, walking up to her school, she saw one of the teachers she knows outside. She looked at her face carefully, and said, "It's not red anymore! You're all better!" I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about, but the teacher said she'd had a very bad cold and one of her eyes had been very red and bloodshot. She was as surprised as I was at how observant Samantha was to have noticed she was better.
People look at their kids and say, I want Johnny to be a doctor. Or a lawyer. Or a pro football player. And the reality of the situation is that little Johnny is going to be whatever the heck he wants to be, parents-be-damned. We all say, when our children are born, and even before then, that we want our children to be happy and successful. It's natural. And we all know that our children will do what they want. But that won't stop us from helping to steer them into a particular direction, you know?
But when a child is born with an intellectual disability, you have to face a certain modified reality. Can our child be happy with whatever they do when they grow up? Certainly. Can our child be successful? Absolutely! But can our child be a doctor? A lawyer? A professional football player? Not likely (and I say that with the most open-ended anything-is-possible respect).
The reality is, with that amazing empathy gene, that Samantha may be more suited to work in the service industry in some way, shape or form. Perhaps as a teaching assistant, or a customer service rep, or working in a store, or maybe even as a nurse's aide. She may become a brilliant public speaker, a self advocate touring the country. I'd love that, too. And that's also a service. It's a different path, but no less fulfilling. Am I projecting these ideas onto her, nudging her in these directions? Absolutely. Will she still do whatever it is that she wants to do, even if it's nothing to do with any of those possible careers? Yep. But I love to imagine the possibilities, to see those hints of her future self in my now-6-year-old.
|This photo is about a year old....Sammi with her friend, Marie, taking turns serving each other cork-trivet-pizzas in Sammi's restaurant.|