Wednesday, April 10, 2013


I picked up Tink from her Daisy scout meeting the other day after school, accompanied by the three other girls of course. The gym was packed with Daisies and Brownies, close to 30 first and second grade girls, running around and parents trying to grab them while simultaneously finding bookbags and coats, wayward Daisy workbooks, and all while engaging in chatter with the other Moms.

So, CB sat herself on the floor with her torn magazines and 3 pom poms and a tangled mass of mardi gras beads and proceeded to hum, sing, whoop, rock wildly back and forth, and stim.  Sometimes she stood up and jumped up and down like a human pogo stick before sitting back down and repeating the process.

It cracks me up.  It's so her.  But let's face it... she gets stares.
She gets stares from other kids who have not yet mastered the art of trying really hard not to look at someone different while appearing non-chalant. 

Even in my parenthood prime, where I've been slapped with the humble stick so many times, I admit it:  
I still feel the heat of discomfort inching up my neck when I'm out with CB.
It's not embarrassment. It's just the prickle of conspicuousness.  
Living in a fishbowl.

But then, one of the little Daisy girls whom I did not know came up to CB and said "Hi."
I thought to myself, Oh crap, now I gotta go over and explain a few things.

I went through the motions of "Say Hi CB," and tapping her chin to encourage some sound...knowing that she probably wouldn't oblige.
And she didn't.  
She just sat looking at her pom pom swirling on the floor.

Then the little girl looked at me and asked
"Special needs?"

The knowing look on her face, the sincerity, the "been there done that" was so grown-up I almost forget that she was, like, all of seven.  

"Yes," I sighed with relief. 
"Do you know someone who is like CB?"

"Yes, my brother was. But he's better now. He used to not be able to talk but now he can."

I didn't know how much "better" he was, but I hoped she was right.

Then she got down to CB's level and I prayed silently that my daughter wouldn't smack her.  
The little girl said "Hi" again with perkiness.  

I just wanted to hug that kid.  I wanted to hug her and tell her how amazing she was and how I wished the world was filled with people like her.  I wanted to run up to her Mom (who I didn't know) and gush about what an incredible soul her daughter had.  How a seven year old talked to CB like a friend instead of stared with her jaw hanging open.  

But I didn't.  Maybe I'll get my chance another time.  


Sometimes people ask me how my girls do with CB... if they are impacted at all by the severity of her disabilities.  
Sometimes I think the question comes from a deep wonder as to whether it is a burden, a difficulty, or an embarrassment for them.  

That little Daisy, whose name I don't yet know, made me further realize that the opposite is true.
Being a sister to CB has made my girls into better people.  
Knowing. Wise. Inclusive. Understanding. Compassionate. Tough. 

CB is lucky to have them...

... and they are equally lucky to have her. 


Claire said...

Awesome. And your girls are beautiful.

Elizabeth said...

Oh, Alicia. I read this after having quite a horrendous day, and it made me laugh and it made me cry and it made me whole. Thank you. I am so grateful for my friendship with you, for feeling so close to someone seemingly so far away. I know that were our two families to get together, they would recognize one another on some deep, cellular level -- all of them -- the boys, the girls, Sophie, CB, you and me.

Christy said...

And they are all SO lucky to have such a thoughtful, kind, compassionate thinker for their mom. Lovely post.

kario said...

This is so achingly beautiful! I can feel that flush of heat so well - that catch in your throat and your heartbeat that happens when you stand for a moment and wonder where the tipping point will be. Thank you for sharing this experience.

Alicia D said...

@elizabeth, im sorry for your horrendous day. I already feel like that deep recognition on that cellular level with you - all the way across the country i think we live parallel lives... Im glad we found each other in the blogosphere and hope one day there will be a chance in person :)!

Jennifer Bell said...

Love, love! I am already praying for Baker's future siblings. It is evident you have done a wonderful job. Each of your girls are beautiful blessings.

RobynC said...

That feeling that is definitely not embarrassment, but the knowledge that your child (and you) are standing out in the crowd - I know that feeling so well. I loved reading this, bless this little girl for making an effort to talk to you and CB, when she could have just gone on being a typical 7 year old. This is a perfect example of autism awareness!

CJ said...

This made me bawl endlessly. Thank you for writing a blog that speaks to my soul (as an adult with cerebral palsy and a future teacher to those with special needs.) on an often daily basis.

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