Coming Up On 22: 11-2-11

Birthday Girl: Two days from today our daughter celebrates her twenty-second birthday, which will be marked by a variety of events including attending theater in Waterbury, Connecticut to see “In The Heights” and a trip to the Vera Bradley store at the Westfarms Mall.

Bass Player Pal: Her brother and his boyfriend are coming up from the city to attend the play whose special importance arises from the presence of our daughter’s dear, loyal and fiercely funny “typical” friend who is a bass player in the show’s national tour and this happens to be the weekend the play comes closest to our area. That plus taking her apartment-mate out for a special dinner and a jumble of gift items ranging from her first iPhone, which she is technologically equipped to use, to a DVD of “Tea With Mussolini” should cover all her Bday needs. Family and friends mark her birthday with calls, cards and gifts. Something about that girl coupled with her “special needs” draws out the good, generous spirit in so many.

The Presence of Goodness In Unlikely Places: As a mother of a child with special needs, I have been privileged to witness extensive goodness in unlikely places. Hardened souls, men and women a like, soften in the presence of a child or adult whose capacities are compromised. Perhaps the childlike quality of so many special needs adults, which is most apparent in their speech, often the first clue, or their gait, or their gaze, knocks down walls of indifference and judgement leading to empathy and compassion. And delight too. Special needs children and adults can be more entertaining than we normals. Why, because much of what you see is honest, uncensored, pulsing with vitality and truth.

Her Birth Gift To Us: As one of our daughter’s cousins-in-law observed, “She cuts right to the truth.” Special needs adults have a unique appeal. They are adults but they retain the enthusiasm and honesty of our former selves, before we became “normal”, repressed, censored and civilized. That’s why our daughter draws in the troops. She touches the child within us, draws them out, and then we can all play together. In the best of times with our daughter, I, who rarely feel anything but young in its best and worst connotations, feel ever so much younger, ever so much lighter, ever so goofy and ever so romantic. Her birth gift to me. And many others, her father, her brother, his friends, our extended families, teachers and bus drivers. They kvell with delight in the contagion of her enjoyment of so much that, when seen through her eyes, becomes hilarious, intriguing or endearing.

Through Her Eyes: To see the world through our daughter’s eyes is never to be bored, embarrassed or cynical. Happy Birthday Special Lady from Yo Momma.

©Jill Edelman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. 2011

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