There’s this chick that I know. I’ve known her since she was five years old and I was a freshman in college. She comes from a really fantastic family, with a sister who’s pretty freaking awesome too. They took me in as their own whenever I had any struggles while I was in college, and as I tried to figure out life as an adult. I spent every single Friday night with this family and this little girl who has turned into a woman.
When I met Isabelle, she was having a playdate with my sister. I thought she was cute and I have always been a damn good babysitter. I told my mom to give her mom my number in case they ever needed a sitter.
About a month later, Isabelle’s mom, Kelly, called me and asked if I could come over and watch the girls. I said sure.
I literally spent twelve hours babysitting at their house. Twelve hours where I learned how passionate, smart, and stubborn Isabelle was (pretty sure she told me to fuck off at one point during that day, and I was rather impressed). I’d babysat tons of kids, but she was different.
She was five years old and she had the wisdom of someone who had lived a full and beautiful life. She sat on the swing at the playground and begged me to push her, just one more time. We’d sit on the seesaw and she squealed with delight as she bounced up and down. She and her sister both demanded root beer at a local Mexican restaurant after every single park day. I spent countless nights tucking Isabelle into her bed while singing her to sleep. She loved to hear my voice and sometimes we sang together. She has always a had a passion for music, and if I screwed up a lyric? She would correct me immediately. When I would pick her up from school, she’d charge down the stairs and run up to me with a giant hug.
We’d go back to her home, a few blocks away, and we would all play karaoke or just dance for hours on end. She and I would sing along to the songs and twirl around the room with abandon.
Sometimes, she’d be pissed at me. And let me tell you right now, Isabelle is not someone you want to be pissed at you. She has given me the silent treatment, the crying treatment, and the extremely sarcastic and mean treatment.
Just like any another kid. Just like myself when I was her age. One time, when she was a tween-ager, she got mad at me about something. I ignored her anger and went about my day. Later on, after she had gone to sleep, I noticed her iPad was open. It was open to a google search engine, and the search was… ” How to Tie up your babysitter in a closet…”
I admired her creativity skills for that one.
She’s too damn smart for her own good.
There came a time when I was driving her mom’s car to the movies. Her sister was in the backseat with her, and we were jamming to 103.5, Chicago’s pop radio station. I was driving down Diversey and out of nowhere, a bus tried to kill us.
Ok, that’s my version of the event, but clearly, it’s not true. The bus was picking people up. The bus had a sign that said, “DO NOT CUT ME OFF MOTHER FUCKER”, but I did. And in the process, I took out one of the side mirrors on the car. I made both of the kids swear that they wouldn’t say anything to their parents until I did.
Well, somehow the night ended and I hadn’t had a chance to tell her parents what had happened because it was late and I needed to get home. Honestly, I think I forgot at that point.
The next morning her mom texted me something like this, “So, Izzy filled me in on what happened to the car…”
I made that kid pinkie swear to me that she wouldn’t tell her. She broke our trust pact.
HOW DARE SHE!?!?!
I secretly think she enjoyed seeing me sweat.
At night she would make me sing Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”. If I started to sing and didn’t include the, “muh muh muh muh”, she would make me stop and start over.
Isabelle is an amazing person. She’s an amazing friend. She’s an amazing daughter. She’s an amazing student. She’s an amazing employee.
She excels at any task you ask of her.
She has changed my life. The first time I met her, I knew I would never be the same. She has taught me patience. She has taught me unconditional love. She has taught me the art of a good sarcastic joke. She has taught me to throw my insecurities out the window and to just dance. She has taught me that beauty comes in every form. She has taught me the lyrics to every song in the top 40.
Isabelle graduated high school and was accepted to Elmhurst College in Illinois. When she got her acceptance letter, she called me. I cried like a baby. She was ecstatic.
*First day of college!*
*Oh hey girl, hey.*
I’ve never been more proud of anyone in my life.
You see, Isabelle has Down syndrome. But, that doesn’t matter.
*Could she be any more beautiful?*
She’s an excellent student and works her ass off to get good grades. Her parents and sister have given her the support and love that she needed to spread her wings and fly.
And she did. She did it.
We facetimed the other night from her dorm, and she showed me her room. We talked about school, her roommate, my kids, and more. My heart was bursting with pride.
That’s my girl.
That’s my girl that you may have treated differently because you thought she might have had a disability. That’s my girl that you thought wouldn’t accomplish anything. That’s my girl that you thought was different from you.
She is an incredible human being. She is what we all should strive to be.
*My babies love Izzy*
Strong. Beautiful. Determined. Generous. Kind. Sarcastic. Smart. Amazing.
October is Down Syndrome awareness month. If you’re reading this and you thought someone with Down Syndrome was different, weak, or unable to attend college and create a life of their own… you were wrong.
This girl is changing the world. One day at a time.