The thing about our daughter, Lexi, is that she doesn’t have the inhibitions that burden so many children today. Down Syndrome + Autism will do that to a kid, I suppose. No, we don’t let her get away with it, but, like any other child, right behavior is learned behavior. With Lexi, it just takes longer to get it right. Instead of a thousand no’s for a typical kid — like “no, don’t touch that” or “no, don’t throw spaghetti” — it requires more like a million no’s, sometimes with little hope for improvement. No, you can’t just reach out and grab a handful of some food you see on the stovetop. No. No. No. Lexi, NO.
And that’s why there’s cornbread everywhere.
Lexi smiles. She likes Jiffy Mix (and who doesn’t?)
I try to remember what it was like when she was much younger, just a helpless little lump hanging out and sorta watching stuff. We hoped and prayed that she would become interested in her world, to reach out and grab a toy, to put food in her own mouth, to look at shiny stuff and grab at it. When it finally started happening, we were overjoyed. Today, almost 8 years later, as she plays piano (lots of weird pentatonic stuff), plays with toys that make music (lots of weird pentatonic stuff) and feeds herself (lots of weird pentatonic stuff) we find ourselves in a position of frustrating joy. But we’ll take it, because, as we’ve learned as parents of a kid with special needs — joy is joy.
And that’s why there’s cornbread everywhere. And she smiles. And, after exhaling and blinking a few blinks, I smile too.