Our first turns 15 today. When she turned 13, I was shocked to suddenly become the parent of a teenager. Several years later and I’m all in as the dad of a teen. Lexi is, of course, a different kind of teen. With the dual diagnosis of Down Syndrome and Autism, she won’t ever drive, she won’t date, she won’t live by herself. When it comes to our daughter, my wife Emily and I celebrate different milestones than most parents.
Though Lexi’s birthday is officially today, we celebrated with family and a few friends this past Saturday, complete with fancy helium filled balloons, cupcakes galore, and an inflatable bounce house. The bounce house was not filled with helium.
It may sound strange, but Lexi wasn’t around very much for her party on Saturday. Lexi knows what she likes and what she wants. She likes music and she likes food. She likes people, especially when they sing and give her food. But crowds are not her thing. Lexi is more of an introvert, though she has her people moments. If they can sing her songs or share her food, Lexi sticks around for a bit until one or both runs out. One thing she wasn’t all that interested in on Saturday was bouncing in the bounce house. Too many people, too much noise, too hot. All this is fine and good, though we did do this a few years ago and felt bummed because she wasn’t into the bounce. We realized it’s a celebration for Lexi and, as long as others are having a good time, it’s all good.
Meanwhile, Lexi is in her room, not unlike the Godfather on the day of his daughter’s wedding — granting favors and such to her stuffed animals.
After the party ended and the sun gave up its piercing direct glare, Lexi jumped in for a few minutes. And she was happy.
Happy Birthday, Lexi. Daddy loves you.