Years ago, I decided that I’d need to be diligent about protecting Sophie from fashion mistakes. I’m not proud of the fact that I won’t let my kid wear overalls or sailor tops, but I won’t. I feel that Sophie has enough challenges and anyhow, overalls remind me of “Of Mice and Men”. (At least, I think that’s why overalls bug me.)
For a while now, on many nights, Sophie’s demanded that she wear her pajama top backward. No harm in that. But tonight we were going out to dinner; no place fancy, but still.
What if someone looked and thought, “Oh, how sad. That kid is too dumb to know her shirt’s on inside out and her mother obviously doesn’t care enough to dress her nicely.”
(I actually pride myself on the opposite — not that the outfits are crazy expensive or dressy, but I do go for a little panache, as much as Target, Old Navy, and the used kid clothing shop on Scottsdale Road will afford me. Hand me downs are the best. Who can resist a tiny girl — special needs or not — in a turquoise leopard print tank dress by Nicole Miller, I ask you?)
Speaking of fashion, I do have an idea for a tee shirt design. To heck with the “My kid has more chromosones than your kid” tees the DS parents wear. I want to put Sophie in a shirt (right side out, please) that says, “I have Down syndrome. What’s your problem?”
Strike me down. But such a tee would come in handy. I stare at people all day long, wondering if maybe they have it. OK, not constantly, but I’d say it happens every couple of days. I’ll find myself checking out eye shape, the back of the head, the gait, and wonder, “Hmmmm.” The person never has it, in those scenarios.
Which is why I wasn’t so sure the boy we saw tonight had it. We were at a favorite Mediterranean restaurant, a real laid-back, family place where the owners are always hugging customers and exclaiming, “Long time no see!” A couple other groups were seated next to us, and Ray had a better view than I did of a table of three — a man, woman and boy. The boy was probably around 11.
“Hey, did you see the kid with DS over there?” Ray whispered. I looked, and we decided it wasn’t for sure, that maybe he even had mosaicism, a form of DS that’s hard to spell (not sure I nailed it) and milder than the classic version — it doesn’t affect all the cells. It was hard to tell, looking at him.
Halfway through the meal, the boy went to the restroom alone (not bad if he does have DS) and stayed a really long time (not good, either way) then returned to his seat. It was then that he looked over at us and saw Sophie. At first, I thought maybe the boy wasn’t really looking at Sophie; could he have been staring at his reflection in the window, or even noticing that Sophie’s shirt was inside out?
But no, he was looking right at Sophie. And she at him. Sophie and this boy stared at each other, he particularly hard at her, for a long time. “Like he had just seen an alien from his own planet,” Ray said later. We both agreed you could feel the electricity in the air, even though Ray never agrees about things like that.
Then the boy turned back to the table, and that’s all that happened. A while later, the family left. The mom caught Ray’s eye and smiled, even said hi, as she slipped out the door.
Ray said, “Sophie, that boy really liked you!” Sophie beamed.
I said, “Sophie, someday you will fall in love and have a wedding, and I’ll plan it for you.”
Sophie said, “No! I plan it myself!”
But she did say that Ray, Annabelle and I will be invited. I hope she doesn’t want to wear her wedding dress inside out.