The discussion about Down syndrome kids as mascots continues, sparked by the Today show clip with the high school kid playing basketball. Maya has a really great take on the whole thing at http://beneaththewings.blogspot.com and Ricki’s Mom has equally smart things to say at http://everythingforareason-moon.blogspot.com.
But today I’m thinking about penguins. This morning I popped into Sophie’s classroom to help decorate Valentine “mailboxes” (white paper bags with lots of foam stickers) and stopped to examine the latest bulletin board project — a group (gaggle? flock? not sure of the appropriate term) of penguins.
Each kid had made one or two — nothing fancy, your garden variety kindergarten construction paper/glue stick/crayon deal, but what makes it so special, of course, is that each penguin is totally unique.
To put it bluntly, quality varies dramatically.
Walking up to the board, I tried to lower my expectations. What matters is that Sophie made a penguin, not what it looks like. Most of them didn’t have names on the front so I examined them all, then called Ms. X over to offer my guess. This is the one I guessed was Sophie’s:
“No,” Ms. X said matter-of-factly. “Let’s see….This is hers.” And she pointed to this one (Sophie’s is the one on the right):
Sophie cut the shapes out all by herself, Ms. X said quickly, after most of them were drawn for her. Another little girl in the class helped Sophie finish.
“See?” Ms. X asked, pointing. “They wanted them to hold hands.”
(Or wings. Or whatever the heck penguins have.)
After that, it didn’t matter one bit that in my 30 minute visit to the classroom one kid practically coughed up a lung and announced she has a fever and then another little boy told me he has a staph infection and a fever blister on his lip, which I then realized he’d been touching the whole time (in between handing me stickers for help removing the back).
I’m one to talk — Sophie’s nose has been running for weeks. For once, she fits right in with the crowd.
She’s just another one of the penguins today. And if she needs a little extra help on the march, I need to be okay with that. But I’m still reserving my opinion on the whole prom queen thing.