Okay, so this sounds like an improbable first blog, but these events occurred just like this and just this night, which is not like other nights, which is a little lonely and a little haunted and on which I am launching my web site.
Tonight, Eurydice–apple of my eye, 6-year-old owner of an extra 21st chromosome and my beloved daughter–spoke her first entirely correct English sentence.
Nobody could have claimed the circumstances were propitious. Dice (as I call her), was striking Marilyn Monroe poses on her changing table before bedtime. (Regrettable News Flash: kids with Down Syndrome need night changings until hell freezes over.) And she decided to thrust her pudgy little hands straight into the glass-framed painting over her head. Well, the glass cracked and so did the skin on her fingers.
Her helicopter mom tried to make light of the situation by lowering the lamps in the bedroom, but when blood started to appear like maroon poppies on Dice’s ivory nightdress, she gave up the good fight and heaved her child off the changing table and onto the garishly lit kitchen counter where, Help me Lord, she discovered the Red Sea gushing from two index fingers.
Quickly, I scrambled after the masking tape last used to stop a mouse hole and dug up the makeup swabs last used when someone last wore make-up. I wound the two wildly around the bleeding digits: Presto! Dice looked like a puzzled saint risen from the grave and admonishing her faithful with two gleaming white over-sized index fingers. She scrutinized these fingers, holding them up near her eyes.
In solidarity, I held up my own two index fingers. Then I started to move them around : “I. Love. You,” I signed to the saint on my kitchen counter.
It was then that the miracle occurred. She did it. Dice—who has not breathed a complete sentence in six years—raised her bandaged hands, signed and simultaneously pronounced “I. LOVE . YOU.” She said it once. She said it twice. Four times. She got the “L”. She got the “Y.” She laughed out loud. She flung her Lazarus arms around my neck and said it again, this time with no signs.
I don’t know if it will happen again tomorrow. Breakthroughs in kids with Down Syndrome are not always reliably replicable in the short term.
But this night, which is not like any other nights, Dice did it. She said her first English sentence–and it happened to be “I love you.” Something like she made her first “speech sound” three years ago and it happened to be a kiss.
It’s slow, yes. But I’ll be damned if it ain’t the Absolutely Sweetest Slow I know.
With “kiss,” “I love you,” and “NO”! in her working vocabulary, the girl’s almost ready for the big screen. Which is what she wants.
Give her a microphone and she will climb onto the highest object in any room and sing her heart out.
Give me a microphone and I’ll duck for cover, stumbling in all likelihood over the electric cord as I go. No matter. There can only be one real star in a family of two and Dice is it.
Two Girls in Paris will continue sporadically as household accidents are averted, hospital time limited, leukemia relapses eschewed and enough money made to put food on the table and brightly colored fabrics over the bodies of the protagonists.