My daughter’s teacher recently called me to tell me a fun story about Yaya. “She sits with a boy and is always giggling with him,” she said, “but the other day, I heard him telling her how much he loves to see her with her hair down. Next thing I recall is her asking for permission to go to the restroom. A couple of minutes later, there she was with her hair down smiling at him.” The story made me laugh hard, tear up a little bit (just because I cry for everything), and think about how smart and amazing my daughter is. For me, that was the extent of it.
But the other day I was telling this story to a friend of mine who also happens to have a 10-year-old daughter, and I heard something that I didn’t even think about. “Eliana, what are you going to do if Yaya falls in love with a typical boy? Are you ready to handle that pain?” I understand this mother’s concern and curiosity but as I told her and I want everyone to know, I am certainly not ready to handle such things, but I am not concerned about it either.
“How would you handle the same experience?” I asked, “if it was your typical child who falls in love with a guy who doesn’t love her back? Are you ready to handle that pain yourself?” It was an honest reply because really, aren’t these situations and circumstances that we all face as parents, as children, and as human beings regardless of our labels? Typical is not synonymous with “perfection” or “lacking unexpected situations for parents”. I mean, who is ready to see her child cry with a broken heart? No one! But we have all been there ourselves and we all will be there as parents.
For now, I am not trying to have all the answers. I am just trying to enjoy situations like this one in which my daughter proves to me how smart, sassy, and incredible she is. She is growing up like everyone else. She is surrounded by other kids who might not have Down syndrome but are clearly more alike than different. Yaya is blooming like the most precious flower. God, she is talking, she is telling me stories, she is running to the bathroom to put her hair down to feel beautiful. I love her more than I ever will be able to express and I am proud of her with all my heart.
Every day with every action and decision she makes, she shows me how capable she is and I am sure she will keep doing it tomorrow and in the years to come as she grows up to make the right choices, to find the love of her life, and to live a full life. So no, I am not concerned about her. Quite the opposite, I am fascinated and completely in love with every one of her adventures on her journey to become her own young lady.