Our newish sitter, Julie, was standing at the stove making herself some banana pancakes last night, when Annabelle marched into the room and farted just about the loudest, juiciest fart I’ve ever heard. (At least, the loudest/juiciest I’ve ever heard come out of Annabelle.)
I held my breath for a minute. You know, not everyone’s into farts. Julie’s in nursing school, so I figured it could go either way.
She turned around, totally unphased, to check out Annabelle and the telltale yellow plastic disc beneath her butt.
“Oh, Annabelle, what did you eat today?” she asked.
And we all cracked up.
Phew. Bullet dodged. And thank goodness. Because really, this life is not worth living without a good fart joke once in a while. Or several times a day.
In the past year, I’ve learned that whoopee cushions are de rigeur in the 7 year old’s birthday goodie bag. I’ve also learned not to trust Oriental Trading Company’s low end version. (Why am I surprised? They cost like 6 cents each.)
My favorite model is available at Walgreens (but not my own Walgreens, we’ve bought them out) for about $4, and it’s turbo. Self-inflating — really! — which is good, because for a long time, Sophie did not understand the concept of having to actually inflate the whoopee cushion. She thought you blew it up by blowing ON it, and the funniest thing I’ve ever seen related to a whoopee cushion was my 4 year old racing around the house, blowing noisily AT the cushion, then shoving it under her butt and practically making herself pass out, she laughed so loud. (We checked; the doctor says that’s okay with her heart condition.)
Sophie wandered into the kitchen and took part in the festivities for a while. And I wondered what Julie thought of that. The thing is, I know full well that when you have a developmentally disabled kid, it’s probably not a good idea to teach her that farts are funny. Sophie has no self-filter. I’ve already learned that the hard way.
When she was 5, Annabelle knew it was NOT cool to suddenly yell out, “Mommy, you farted!” in the Nordstrom kid shoe department. (I swear, I didn’t. Not that time, anyway.) Not Sophie. She’s a regular Sarah Silverman — she will not be edited.
So I know I never should have given her a whoopee cushion, shouldn’t have taught her the word (a word, by the way, not used in households in the previous generation of this family — my mother called it “foof,” my father’s never referred to the activity, and, get this, Ray’s family called farts “piggies”), and certainly never should have giggled when she did it herself or cracked up at the cute way she says, “I fahted,” with all the pomp of British aristocracy.
I’ve only been to a small handful of official Down syndrome events, but one really sticks in my mind. It was a “Buddy Walk,” and the teenage son of the prominent leader of that particular group (we actually have FACTIONS of DS support groups in Phoenix, a future topic, I promise) got onstage and started disco dancing to the loud music playing, and making obscene gestures. Nothing TOO obscene, just pretending to slap a butt (you know, like the dice rolling scene in “Knocked Up”) and it was then I realized — with way too much clarity, for 7 in the morning, that the stuff that’s cute on your kid with Down syndrome is not so cute on your teen with Down syndrome.
OK, so I’ve got 8 years to undo the mess I’ve made. But I’m not hiding the whoopee cushion, not yet, anyway.