I have friends with teenagers with Down syndrome who need to be reminded constantly to let their children be more independent. I don’t need the reminding, Ricki does it for me. She simply chooses independence, and if I am stupid enough not to realize in advance what she is likely to attempt, and prepare her for it, then she is running a big risk.
Whenever we go to her exercise class, she alights from the bus in a hurry, and walks ahead briskly, in order to walk on her own. And if I manage to keep apace with her, and arrive at the building’s elevator before she disappears within, she will give me dirty looks and scowls.
Last week was a time that she definitely beat me, but something unusual occurred. When I arrived a few minutes after Ricki, she was NOT there. I called her name repeatedly, and received no reply. I quickly checked the floor above, and ran down the stairs, checking each floor with a glance, including the parking area beneath the building. Then I quickly glanced outside on the ground floor, but still no Ricki. By this time I was terrified that some pervert had dragged her to some corner and assaulted her. I then ran back up to the floor where the class is held, but Ricki was not there. A moment later, she emerged from the elevator. It seems that she had gone to the bathroom, and had either not heard me calling her name, or had chosen not to reply. I of course roundly berated her for the scare, trying to impress on her that near-empty buildings can be very dangerous places.
Fast forward to today (Sunday). Ricki and I went for a day of sightseeing in Jerusalem, followed by a visit to several of my grandchildren in the afternoon. The first thing I did with Ricki on arriving in the city was to treat her to a breakfast in a bagel restaurant…..a real adult type of thing. While there, she indicated that she wanted to freshen up in the bathroom, so I instructed her how to ask the waiter where the restroom was. It was not on the premises, but down a hallway. I was then saying the grace after the meal, and indicated to Ricki via hand gestures, to wait a minute. But she wasn’t having any of that, and out the door she went.
I remembered last week.
I let her go on her own.
And she was back within a few moments, beaming with victory.