Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

First the lion prowls....

Then she takes down Mommy...

And then Daddy!

But how can you resist the cute?

So I took her trick-or-treating (kind of!) to exactly 3 houses: two of our neighbors and our good friend who lives in the neighborhood behind us. She wouldn't do her lion impression at the last house, and did most of her growling for our next door neighbor who is mostly deaf so it was kind of wasted.

Here is where I start grousing about my neighbor. Please skip ahead if you don't like grousing.

Now mind you, I know he means well. He's an older gentleman, he's very helpful when we can't figure out why our backdoor light won't go on or I can't start my car and whatnot. He's also the one who scolds us if we don't keep our lawn mowed. Evidently he also keeps track of the number of people who go in and out of our house. Not that I care overmuch, but you know.

It's just.... okay. I may have blogged about this before, and maybe I haven't, but here it is again anyway. Some time earlier this year or something, I was chatting with him while I was holding Kiki and I mentioned she had Ds. He said he thought something was wrong with her, and made mention that he has a relative with Ds who is now 35 or so but didn't have a lot to offer in that regard either. And then he began to impress upon me that I had to start going to church because more than anyone else, she was going to need a lot of God in her life (I may be slightly paraphrasing, but the implication was very heavy on the pity.)

At the time I tried to put it all aside because he was, after all, regenerating the battery in my car for me. A nice, neighborly thing to do.

Tonight, Kiki and I stopped to visit to say Happy Halloween. He asked if she was walking yet; I said no, but she's cruising and her PT is thrilled with her progress. He then asked if that was all the people coming and going from our house, the therapists (sigh), and I said yes.

He then mentioned his 35-year-old relative again -- he was specific about the relation, but I've forgotten it already -- and somehow we got into the topic of how Ds children used to be institutionalized as a matter of course. He said he couldn't imagine doing that to his own child; they're our responsibility, after all, and we need to step up. So far, okay.

Then he says, "Of course they're more work than a normal child."

And you know, in writing this all down, I'm thinking the conversation wasn't really as bad as I felt it was. I think he was obviously trying to empathize with me. He mentioned on several occasions that Kiki was beautiful. He didn't say anything grossly insulting. But he made several little comments, little ignorant comments that I can't even recall right now, that I might have normally considered innocuous, but they bothered me.

And the thing is, he's concerned about her. That's genuine. And he's also curious about her; that's genuine as well. She signed Thank you to him for the candy, and he was shocked that she was learning sign language. I explained to him about the speech development delay and that signing helps her communicate earlier. He was a little critical of how she signed Thank you -- it's not perfect, but she's 18 months for cry-yi -- but he was still impressed.

I think what bothered me most of all about the conversation is that the whole conversation was about Kiki's Ds and not about Kiki herself. Or maybe I was just in the mood to be irritated. I don't know. He's not a bad guy, all in all, and he means well, and I probably shouldn't bitch about it.

Everyone else loved the costume, loved the cute of Kiki, and made no mention of Ds at all. Which I think is as it should be, right?

I have this thought sometimes, and maybe it's all part of the grandiose dreaming that parents do about their children, but it brings me a sense of comfort and pride. I think sometimes that all of us were brought into this world to touch others in some way. I think sometimes that Kiki's touch on people will be profound; it certainly has been so on her parents, after all.

When I was a child, I used to wander the neighborhood and visit with all our neighbors. I knew everyone on our street; not the kids, but the adults. I would go and visit with them for long periods of time.

I have this thought that Kiki may be the same. I have this thought that our next door neighbor may be one of the ones she visits the most, and that there may be a strong bond between the two of them that changes the shape of both of their lives. I have this thought that Kiki may have a profound effect upon him and everyone near us.

But that's as may be. I'm still struggling very hard to learn to live in the present, moment by moment as it were. It's not easy for me. I think I'd have been a soothsayer in a different time, as much as I love to live in alternate futures.


Kate November 2, 2008 at 11:05 PM  

Kiki looks so cute! :)

I hear you about the attitude of some folks. One of the things you (and Kiki) will need to be prepared for when she's older is the phenomenon of people talking around her like as if she's not there even if she's physically present.

I've experienced that myself (for completely different reasons, i.e. the Condition) and I find it very offensive. I hope that most folks will be mature enough not to do that to her when she grows up. :(

YarnHacker K November 4, 2008 at 9:17 AM  

That's the cutest lion I ever saw. Full stop.

It's hard to deal with the language and attitudes of older people. I think your approach of understanding what was meant and glossing over the actual words might be best for your own sanity. There's a time for advocating and a time for simple head-nodding and going back in the house :-)

Michelle November 8, 2008 at 9:16 PM  

She makes an adorable lion!

I think sometimes people really don't realize the things they say can be taken the wrong way, even if they mean well that they can be offensive. It sounds like he's from the "older generation" maybe and just doesn't think that some of the things he was saying were inapporpriate. I never know what to say in those situations either.

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