My Daughter With Down Syndrome Is My 2-Year-Old Sidekick


One random Monday night, my daughter, Hannah, had some serious “big girl” pants on. She helped me unload the dishwasher. She put food in the grocery cart. She dictated which songs to sing while we shopped. She pointed to a picture of a boy so she could show me his facial features — she tried so hard to say “ears,” “nose,” “teeth” and “chin.” She took the food out of the cart and put it on the checkout belt. She negotiated bedtime on the drive home. She invented a game of running away from me while I tried to change her clothes. She laughed until she couldn’t stand. She knew why it was funny. I loved every moment. And part of me didn’t.

 

Hannah seems to be going through a developmental growth spurt starting a few weeks ago. Suddenly, she decided she wants to walk more, or if she’d being held, she wants to help carry stuff for you. She picks up new signs immediately but also tries to speak the words. She wants to get herself dressed and undressed. She crawls onto the couch with a book and reads to herself. It’s truly amazing to see her put pieces of the world together, to watch her try to solve a problem, to see the recognition in her eyes when she answers a question. Her little voice chirps “yeah” or “no” full of certainty. Again, I love it and I don’t. We wait patiently for these milestones and then she bangs them all out at once, preventing us from savoring each one individually.

I had an image in my mind of the relationship with my future daughter — my sidekick and little helper. I lost focus of this picture briefly after Hannah’s birth and her down syndrome diagnosis, but each day she shows me she’s the girl of my dreams. All these big kid skills she’s been learning lately were preparation for the moment my sidekick was officially ready to take her place. As we walked up to our house after a long day of work and daycare, my little blue-eyed, fair-haired darling held her hand out for mine, giggling as she stomped up the steps.

And I walked beside her beaming with pride.

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