A friend of mine once insisted that Sophie looks a lot like Kate Hudson.
While I took that as a big compliment (who wouldn’t?) it made me feel weird. Sophie’s not supposed to look like anyone who doesn’t have Down syndrome. She’s not even really supposed to look like Ray and Annabelle and me, although I catch flashes from time to time.
I do know what my friend means about Kate Hudson, particularly in certain pictures.
When she was born, the nurses said her features were “mild,” and explained that meant she’d be high functioning. I now know that’s all hooey — no one knows for sure at that point — and I look at her baby pictures and toddler pictures and the school pictures on the wall and say, “OK, that’s a kid with Down syndrome.”
A darn cute kid, a beautiful little girl, and it’s not like she looks exactly like every other person with DS out there, but yeah, she’s got it. And five-plus years in, I’m okay with that.
In high school, I knew Jewish girls who would try to “pass” as non-Jewish. I’ll admit, even now, it’s not so bad to have a day go by without anyone mentioning that Sophie has DS, just letting her be her own little person. And yeah, sometimes I’ll fantasize that no one can tell. Then an ancient lady comes up to me in the pen aisle at Office Max and nods at Sophie and says, “I had one, too.”
Then the woman tells me all about how her son went to the same elementary school Sophie goes to now — only about a million years ago, judging by this woman’s obvious age and the stories she’s telling — and how he once decked a kid who called the special ed room the “retard room.”
Good for him, I told her. And I meant it. But really, couldn’t I have a DS-free Sunday afternoon? I was exhausted. On a lot of levels.
Back to Kate Hudson. I can see it in some older pictures, I wish I had them here so I could post them. I’ll have to dig them out.
The other night, I took the girls downtown to a couple of gallery openings. They were good sports in rooms full of red-wine sipping grown ups. Annabelle successfully interpreted several pieces of art (confirmed by a show essay) and Sophie was good, though I did have to tell her, “Only touch with your eyes.”
I won’t do that again. I think she actually managed to make eyeball contact with a painting at one point.
We were en route to a store called Devious Wigs & Things (really! check it out: www.deviouswigs.com) when we happened upon a new studio space, occupied by a photograher I know. The girls rushed in and made themselves at home. The photographer’s studio-mate stopped and at stared at Sophie.
“She’s BEAUTIFUL,” he said, staring some more. “Check this out — I was just looking at some models who have the same bone structure in their faces.”
Oh god, I thought. Really? What will this be about?
He pulled up a couple images of beautiful models. “See?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I answered, feeling Kate Hudson-awkward. We left before I could figure out if he figured out about Sophie. I wonder if, once we were down the street, the photographer I know said, “Hey, dumbass, that kid has Down syndrome. Couldn’t you tell?”
Maybe he could. Maybe he couldn’t. Maybe it doesn’t matter.