Saturday, October 2, 2010

Conversations with Sophia-Down Syndrome Awareness Day 2

While it seems that we spend a large amount of time trying to teach special needs kid, I am most amazed by the daily life lessons Sophia teaches me. Sometimes I wonder if this is a big trick God is playing on us. Are special needs kids here to teach the whole world lessons? Sophia feels all the same emotions that we feel. The most amazing thing to witness is that there is no filter through which she analyzes them or through which she shares them. When she's feeling mad, sad, happy...she just tells me.

"Mom, I am so mad at you." "Why, Sophia?" "Because you won't let me watch my t.v. show and I really like it." I usually tell her that she can watch it when she finishes her homework and she reluctantly sits down to do her homework. And when I tell her she can now watch it I usually get a "You're the best mom!".

I never doubt Sophia's love for me and I don't think she doubts that I love her. I know this because multiple times daily, she tells me she loves me. We have also been having this conversation for a few years. "How come you love me so much?" To which I answer, "Because God gave you to me and you are my daughter." She responds by saying, "Awww. I love you,too" and encircles me with a hug. Some mornings she wakes up and says, "Do you love me because God gave me to you?" I respond yes and then she points to a picture of me holding her when she was a baby. "I was a baby and I was so cute and God gave me to you." And for me, it is never redundant. She says it with renewed energy every this is a fact she has just learned and it makes her so happy and it is the only thing that matters in her life.

Occasionally I will see Sophia just sitting on the couch crying. When I ask her what is wrong she says, "I'm sad because I miss Auntie Donna". Or, she misses Granny, Mimi, Grandpa Ron, Marley or any of the people/animals in our life that have passed on. Some she has never even met or doesn't even remember. But we talk about them to her and show her pictures and she somehow senses that there is a void in this world left behind by their absence. I think about the number of times in my life that I miss someone and I may even cry. My first instinct is to hide my tears. After all it is the middle of the day and there are people around me and I don't want to explain or be embarrassed or diagnosed as unstable by strangers. How silly really that I feel that way. Am I not entitled to miss people and feel sad because of it? Sometimes I wish I could be more like Sophia.

I think my favorite emotion that I get to witness from Sophia is her joy. Some days we will just be outside playing or pulling weeds. She'll say, 'Wait mom...smell the air." She'll pause and inhale deeply and smile. Then she says, "It's a beautiful day. The sun is out, we're together...the whole family-me, you, daddy, Mira." I know that I taught her to "smell the air" when she was very young but somehow it has stuck and I am so glad because as I age and get busier I often forget to "smell the air" and breathe deeply and thank God for each day.

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