Copyright © 2014 Stephen Hawley, all rights reserved.
Alice and I have a standard lunch date: Taco Bell. It’s stupid and unhealthy, but it’s a once in a while thing and for her, a means of developing independence in an environment that is conducive. She orders her own food and helps set up the table. I’ve talked about this before and have been talking with the management to try and help make the restaurant more accessible.
Today, while we were eating, Alice put her food down and smiled and waved. I raised and eyebrow and looked over in the direction that she was looking. There were two men at a nearby table eating lunch. They both appeared to be construction or carpentry workers. Alice said, “That’s my husband.” This triggers all sorts of warnings in my head. Alice is very trusting of other people. She assumes the best and to date has pretty much gotten the best from people she has encountered. This is terrific – it says a lot for the quality of people in this area, but she has no anxiety whatsoever about talking to other people and telling them all of our business. No filtering at all. I’ve been trying to remind her – she knows the rule and can recite it – but it doesn’t seem to help. People are just too fascinating for her. To a certain extent, I understand. As a young child, I was a very out-going person and enjoyed meeting new people, but somewhere along the line, I outgrew that.
I tried. I reminded her of our rule for talking to strangers. I asked her if she knew him. “Yes.” “OK,” I responded, “what’s his name?” Without missing a beat, “Bennett.” I reminded her of the rule and we went on with our meal. After the man in question finished and got up to go, Alice accosted him, “Scuse me. Hi, I’m Alice and this is my daddy. Scuse me – what’s your name?” “Brian.” HA! See! I knew you didn’t know his name! I explained to him what had happened and that Alice had decided that he was going to be her husband and apologized. He took it with a smile and said it was alright. Alice interjected and said a big stream of things (a lot I missed) but asserted that she would see him Sunday. He smiled and said goodbye and gave me a solid friendly pat on the back on his way out.
I don’t even know what to make of it except that I guess Alice is a tween now.
For those of you keeping notes, puberty arrives on the same time schedule for kids with Down syndrome as it does for the general population.
Give me strength.