He does. Lengths of “rope” (scarves) are among his most valuable treasures. Should you ever find yourself in my house you’d better beware; you could happen upon a booby trap at any turn.
“She just hasn’t learned yet,” I answer.
“Well then how come I’ve learned already and she’s bigger than me?”
“We all learn at a different pace, buddy. She’ll learn when she needs to know how to tie.”
This is the best answer I can give him. The truth.
When Cassidy was born I grieved for a long, long time. I grieved the perfect package I’d been expecting. My two oldest daughters were around to see the process. They were around to hear two words delivered in explanation practically all the day long. Down syndrome. Those two words cast so heavy a shadow over our door.
In the years since there have been far fewer explanations. By the time Jayce was born there was very little need to explain anymore. In fact, I don’t know for sure if Jayce has ever even heard the words ‘Down syndrome’ in relation to his sister.
Here’s the thing: Even Cassidy doesn’t know she has Down syndrome. If I asked her what it meant she’d shrug her shoulders and ask what we’re having for dinner.
I’ve never explained Down syndrome to her because–to date–there’s been no need. She is who she is, just ask Jayce. He’d tell you that she is Cassidy and she is eleven and she is his best friend. Down syndrome does not define her. The condition affects her, but I fear the words would limit her.
If ever there comes a day when Cassidy comes to me and asks what makes her different than everybody else, here is what I will tell her:
You are different because your smile can light up a room. You are different because whereas other kids pass by that student in a wheelchair, you stop and give her knuckle knocks every single morning. You are different because you wake up the second the sun rises. And because you let the dog lick your mouth. Ew. You’re different because you change your favorite color each week but your favorite “food” has always been (and likely always will be) ice cream. You’re different because you say what you mean and you mean what you say. You’re different because it’s impossible to embarrass you. You’re different because you habitually close doors and shut cabinets and lower toilet lids. You’re different because you love birthdays more than any other day of the year. You are different because you forgive so very wholly. You’re different because you have three twenty-first chromosomes to my two. You’re different because God only made one you. You’re fearfully and wonderfully made. Don’t you forget it.
It would be the best answer I could give her. The truth.