Friday, April 20, 2012

A Christina Day at Old Sturbridge Village

Christina has been off from school all week. No one else has off from school, Gabbi is preparing for chemistry, psychology,  and physiology finals, and Bella is reading The Divine Comedy as expeditiously as possible since all three books arrived from inter-library loan on the same day and must be returned soon. I have enjoyed reading it with her, but I wanted to give Christina some one on one time.

The spring weather is sunny and delightful, so I took Christina to Old Sturbridge Village to see the spring lambs. My camera batteries were dead, so we have no lamb photos.
I decided to give Christina the gift of time. We would go through OSV on her timetable (within reason, or we might still be there!) We spent as long as she wanted on what she wanted to see. No pushing her through pretty houses for my viewing pleasure or forcing her to sit through talks she doesn't understand.
She led me to sit in the schoolhouse, where she enjoys the desks and the company of the children, the coopers shop, where she impressed the cooper (barrel maker) with her skills at the wood shaping bench (this is her fifth time to OSV this year) and the barnyard where we watched the animals. We gazed at the lovely little white lambs tagging along behind their massive wooly mothers, responding to their calls with tiny bleats, and nursing with gusto as they rammed their little heads into mom's belly for more milk! What a delight it was to see her enjoy herself on the playground, when she has been denied it at school because of the risk of falling with her delicate vertebrae.
Walking leisurely through the village, stopping for a picnic or two, taking time to splash in the stone sink in one house, and trace a twig in the water of a horse trough, gave me a sense that I was on vacation. It was the most enjoyable day I've spent at OSV, with no agenda besides following Christina's lead. I wondered why I haven't done it this way before, and resolve to make tomorrow another Christina day at home. Maybe we'll walk along the river, or sit and watch birds in our little shrine in the woods.
Whenever I am interviewed about raising a child with Down syndrome, I always praise Christina's ability to stop and smell the flowers, but too often I forget to allow her to slow me down to life in the moment, absorbing the sights, sounds and aromas of life.

Thank you Lord, for this gift of a child who has the gift of living in the moment. Help me to learn from her to relish the details of this wonderful life we share.
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