Having a Child with Down Syndrome, Part LXXX: This Is New Ground

Copyright © 2015 Stephen Hawley, all rights reserved.

To be honest, parenting is all new ground. A child is born and like so many parents before and after, you discover that the owner’s manual doesn’t apply or doesn’t exist. For me, we’re entering new ground. I grew up in a family of three boys of various degrees of cluelessness in terms of girls. I don’t think I had any serious crushes until I was in maybe 6th grade, maybe? I have recollections of a girl in my homeroom that I had a small crush on, but nothing substantial really. The first serious (and unrequited) crush was in 8th grade. For the most part, I had no idea how to really talk to girls and it was rough.

Alice has several crushes. Several serious crushes. I knew about these in the past year because she when she talked about her classmates, and usually it was just a rote list of friends, when she got to the names of several boys, she would get stars in her eyes and sigh, “Ohhh, Pablo” or “Ohhh, Henry.” We, of course, communicated this to her teachers to make sure that they knew what was going on.

Today we went swimming and Henry was there. Alice saw him and was calling out to him constantly. She finally got his attention and had a brief conversation. Thankfully, Henry is without a clue. Of course, this is a signal for Alice to persevere. She watched him intently as he jumped off the diving board, called out to him, kept trying to get him close to her. It got to the point where we had to intervene several times in order to try to get her to back down. This situation was a serious impedence mismatch between the two and was starting to become a public issue. We had to move Alice away. When E tried this, Alice slugged her. And that lead to some time-out-ularity when we got home. Alice was clearly angry and it just got worse as she bickered with us about her behavior. “I need Henry.”

I don’t honestly know what the right approach is on this one. New territory. We’re trying to stress that this is not how boys and girls talk to each other. Probably, the right thing to do is figure out a way to present how we do talk to someone we like a lot and how to keep it simple and not overbearing. It’s challenging because Alice is very quick to perseverate over little things. What do we do about something so serious as a boy?

On other news, Alice was invited to two birthday parties on Saturday. One was a much younger neighbor and Alice was decidedly not acting her age when I came to pick her up and take her to the other party which was with one of her classmates. I was a little worried about how that would go, but as I have mentioned before, her classmates are terrific kids and treat her very well.

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When Alice arrived, her friends greeted her very well and engaged her at her level. When her friend Sam was opening presents, Alice was very excited and encouraging. Of course, right here Alice is staring at Abel, one of the few boys at the party. Ohhh, Abel.

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