A little while ago, Elyse had asked me when Anabelle was going to walk. I took a deep breath, expecting this to be "the BIG talk" I've been waiting for, and I began with, "Well, you know that your sister is different from other babies you know, like Piper and Mia?" (baby sisters of her friends). She got a confused look on her face and said, "No, she isn't", and then went back to playing without waiting for an answer to her original question. I just sat there for a minute and let it sink in that somehow, Elyse has totally managed to miss the ways in which her sister is different. Her 4-year-old mind only knows the reality in front of her. She is not crippled by the vision of "perfection" that I lost in my mind. And I realized that labels like, "differently-abled" and "special needs" are descriptors that WE have applied to Anabelle and her friends. What if we didn't? When I meet a new special needs friend, I always introduce myself as "Kate, mom to Anabelle, 20 months, with lissencephaly, microcephaly, cerebral palsy, central visual impairment, sleep apnea and undetermined seizures." What if I said, "Kate, mom to 4-year-old Elyse, lover of all things musical and a sense of humor that will whip your head around, and 20-month-old Anabelle, owner of the world's longest eyelashes and a perma-grin"? Why can't I stop defining Anabelle by her disorders, and start defining her by her PERSONALITY?? I'd like to conduct an experiment where for one week straight, I do not acknowledge any of Anabelle's disabilities, even to inquiring new minds, and see what results that yields in the way people interact with her.
I have said before, and I am sure will say again many, many times: God did not give Anabelle to Brian and I. She was intended for Elyse. We were just the parents already in place. To Elyse, Anabelle is the perfect sibling: never cries, never steals her stuff, never demands attention, lets you dress her in any manner of ridiculous costumes, will take on any menial role in imaginary play. How I wish I could shed my lifetime of social constraints and view my beautiful daughter only through a child's eyes
My all-time favorite picture of my girls (as seen in the Philadelphia Inquirer! LOL!)
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