Sofia is a pint-sized little girl with strikingly crisp blue eyes. Ever since her white blonde hair grew long enough to stretch into them, piggy-tails have been her trademark. Rarely a day goes by that her hair doesn’t bounce up and down, trailing behind her as she darts around.
Like any little girl, she loves to play, especially with her daddy and big brother. “Teedle leedle leet,” is her battle cry during the many tickle fights she initiates. Fighting valiantly to bring them to the ground laughing, she can hardly contain her giggles.
Sofia also loves to play with her baby dolls and many stuffed animals, cradling them in her arms before putting them to bed in their doll-sized crib. Every now and then one of them acts up and she promptly seats them in time-out, instructing them with a tiny, but serious wagging finger. Thankfully for the unlucky recipient of her parental discipline, she has a generous heart. She quickly frees them from their corner of solitude, soothing the once obstinate piggy or baby with tender hugs.
Books are another of Sofia’s favorites. She spends countless hours looking through them. Sometimes, she enjoys listening to a story read to her. Often, she’d rather be the one in charge, deciphering the letters and pictures on the page. She’s learned all of her letters and is on her way to reading.
After years of watching her brother board the big yellow school bus, Sofia now gets to ride the bus herself. She loves the bus ride, the color yellow and bus-time sing-alongs. Morning prep time is hurried along with her asking for her backpack and standing at the door, ready to go. Getting the chance to play and learn with classmates at school is, in her opinion, time well spent.
From the day Sofia was introduced to the fuzzy doggie next door, they became fast friends. Their friendship has sparked a love for doggies of all kinds, big and small. Every time a bark is heard, she immediately scans the area to locate her potential new friend. The only other animal to rival her love for the canine is the cow. Even after numerous visits to the zoo, no animal can compare with the cow. All the elephants, giraffes, lions, monkeys and bears leave her unaffected and asking for her favorite. “Cow?” she asks, sure that the zookeeper’s made a grave error by forgetting an animal of such importance.
Recently, Sofia celebrated her fifth birthday. It was only fitting that she’d have a cake to reflect her great love. And so was born: the red barn cake. Complete with a thatched roof, wildflowers, two piggies, a mama and baby duck swimming in a pond, a single lamb and the all-important cow; all crafted into life-likeness out of fondant.
After blowing out all five candles in two enormous puffs, Sofia was presented her piece of cake, with the spotted cow precariously perched on top. Not sure what her response would be, party-goers watching closely didn’t have long to wait. Before ingesting even one crumb of cake, she quickly grabbed up the cow, holding it tight-fisted, as if it might try to escape. One last look into his pleading eyes and into her mouth he went, to be finished off in two very large, unladylike bites, followed by a wide toothy grin.
Sofia is a little girl like any another; usually sugar, sometimes a little spice. She has good days and bad days. She has loves and dislikes, strong opinions and a genuine desire to love, be loved and to live life fully. Sofia also has Down syndrome. As her mom, I’m a bit biased, but I think she’s special. Her unique, God-given personality has both filled my heart with joy and challenged me at times, making me, I hope, a better parent and a better person. She’s a beautiful girl, inside and out. I’m blessed to get the chance to know and love her. One extra chromosome doesn’t make her that different. She’s just a little girl, like any little girl. I’m just glad she’s mine.
“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
– Shel Silverstein
October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month