While the ability of a child to cross their arms, stomp their feet, turn their back on you, narrow their eyes, and, of course, shout No! with the full force of an angry little monster who thinks it owns the world, is frustrating beyond all belief to the parents and caregivers on the receiving end, it is, somehow, in some twisted, masochistic way, still refreshingly typical.
I'm not condoning it, nor am I celebrating it, really. It's typical childhood behavior. I'm glad of that. It's not specifically unique to my child, or to Down syndrome. It's unique to children (oh, okay, I know plenty of adults that may exhibit this behavior, too...), in general. And did I already mention that it's frustrating beyond all belief?
Samantha's defiance at home usually has a reason behind it. I don't always fully understand the reason, but I can usually figure it out for the most part. And then I usually antagonize her a bit and make it worse, digging deeper, getting in her face to demand answers and compliance, when really, I should just leave her alone for a bit to stew in her own misery. But when it comes to needing to get ready for school so we can get out of the door and get her there before the 3rd bell, there is no place for defiance and the delays it inevitably causes.
Defiance, for Samantha, usually stems from her own internal sense of shame. She knows she's done something wrong, she knows she's been punished for it, and she knows we still need to talk about it to ensure the situation is resolved. But she hates to admit to wrong-doing. She'd rather shut down and turn her back, her eyes dark with (benign) malice, arms crossed and locked to her sides.
And then...she breaks.
She knows. She admits. She cries. She apologizes. And then, with a hug you never, ever want to end, a painstakingly hesitant, sad, kiss of remorse as she looks into your eyes and agrees to behave next time (oh, how often this plays out), it is over. And then, with the innocence of a child who doesn't understand that we adults know all, and can magically see the hints of ulterior motive, she asks to watch TV/play with her tablet/read her books/do whatever privilege had previously been taken away. Ya gotta laugh.
The innocence of a child.
Can't beat that.