Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Daddy's View of life with our girls

The Daddy of our three girls with Down syndrome graciously agreed to give his take on life with our girls and did a brilliant job. Thank you, John, for sharing a different glimpse into the Spicer family life. I didn't even bribe him to say those nice things about me.

I guess I knew before I knew. I thought Emma appeared to look a bit different in the hands of the doctor a few seconds into her life, but put that thought behind me and attributed it to stress from her move. A few minutes later the doctor pulled me to the side and told me that Emma appeared to have the characteristics of a child with Down syndrome. I was overwhelmed with the news and wondered how Jill would react.

Jill's reaction put me instantly at ease. She held Emma in her arms for the first time and whispered to her that she did indeed have Down syndrome. There was no sadness in the whisper, but rather it was more like a pronouncement that great joy was in store for the two of them. Jill was uniquely prepared to be a mother of a child with special needs, for it is fighting for the underdog that brings out her best.

Emma was our fifth child. We now have eight children, and three have Down syndrome (Vera and Ella being adopted after, and because of, Emma). I think Emma, Vera and Ella have two primary traits in common; they are sweet and they are stubborn. Emma is high on sweet and can be stubborn. Vera is high on stubborn and can be sweet. Ella is currently in a boxing match with herself and is keeping us in suspense on which trait will win out.

I am an attorney and have been trained to reason. I have learned that I really can't reason with Vera. This drives me crazy. I wonder if I drive God bonkers in much the same way. I would just like to reach into her head at times and pull out a logical reaction to the situation of the moment. However, the harder I try for logic, the harder Vera thinks as Vera thinks. It is two parts exasperating and one part endearing. I wouldn't trade in any of the parts though, because Vera is the most unique human being I have encountered. Her biological parents, who abandoned her at birth, would have been enriched by her. I feel badly for them.

All three of these girls love to help me with the exciting parts of my life. They hang up my clothes when I come home from work, help me put on my socks in the morning, and give me my pills with a glass of water in the kitchen. Things with definite beginning and ending points, and that bring a sense of accomplishment, are big in their world. One thing to avoid, however, is telling them exciting news too far in advance. This is especially true for Vera. The event is fixated upon on a daily basis, and will be discussed regularly until it happens. It then will be brought up as an event remembered. I think their events remembered are some of my favorite things. I love to hear Vera talk about how Daddy, Mommy and Vera adopted Vera from Russia.

Ella doesn't talk much. She is developmentally delayed. Yet, she is one of the better communicators in the family. I personally like her Popeye look. She squints through one eye and cocks her head, and the matter is considered closed. Her first sentence was "stop it." She means it, by the way. We adopted her when she was two and she wasn't even crawling yet. She would just sit there. I think of this and realize just how far she has come. Her journey is just beginning.

A third thing the three of them have in common, in addition to sweetness and stubbornness, is an all out love affair with their mother. I would say that dad comes in at a distant second, but I actually think that a few of the kids outrank me as well in the Downsie hierarchy. Mom is Downsie sainted. She rises in the east and sets in the west. I think that Vera and Ella somehow sense that Jill saved them from bad stuff.

Emma loves everyone in sight. She is a great mimic and apparently wants to go into show business. Her passion is dancing. Well, singing too. She also does this runway model thing. Oh, and I forgot about cheerleading. She also has announced her unwavering commitment to Nick Jonas. To know Emma is to love Emma. I actually mean that and I am not using it as an expression. There is no right-minded human being who could meet Emma and not love her. I have this theory that Emma, and her partners in crime, are a lot closer than we are to the way God first made humans prior to the fall.  Oh, don't get me wrong, that sin nature is definitely there. It just seems to be more overshadowed by loving life than would be with the typical man and woman on the street. Emma cherishes relationships.
Photo by Alyssa Maisano Photography
 I suppose not everyone is cut out to have a child with Down syndrome. I get that quite a bit as people hearing our story are bewildered as to how we manage with three of them. It is perceived as burdensome. I am not sure what to tell them. I feel badly for them. There is a world out there that gets revealed through those round faces. It is true that there are those among us that need some help with living life. Yet, life is so much more lived with them at your side, as they unknowingly encourage you to give them all that you are and hope to become.

(Reposted from October, 2010)

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