“Momma- She wants me to come over. Here’s her phone number- call please- please can I go? We’re not doing anything- please, please, please?”
It’s not the first time. Although it is one of the first. Our family- we don’t separate well or often for recreation. But it’s starting. The calls, the emails and invitations to birthdays and playdates that are for only one of our children. Zuzu. And I understand it. I understand how it is hard to connect to a child who doesn’t easily speak. I understand that it is intimidating to think about inviting a child over to your house that is labeled as having special needs, and not their caregiver. I understand that sisters don’t share everything. I understand that people’s lives are busy. I know ours are.
When we meet up with our pals at the zoo, or a park, at their house or ours, when we go out to eat, to a festival or shopping, these are the things that the Quail lights up over. She is up for it. She knows when plans are being made and her little hand rises to her chest in that plaintively voiced question,
She hesitates only briefly waiting for the answer she has come to expect from us in her four and a half years on this planet, “Yes Quail. Yes you can come.” Before darting down the hall to dig her purple crocs out of her shoe box.
Last year when the question came regularly on early morning weekdays I was able to quell her concerns of being left behind by going over the schedule for the week while I faced her on bended knees. “Not today Quail. Today you go to Ms. Kip’s with Daddy for gymnastics. Tomorrow I’ll take you to Ms. Renee’s for school ok?” Her response a happy. “Kay” as she turns back to her Cheerios and raisins and resumes spooning more into her small, now-smiling mouth.
Then one weekend Zuzu was invited for her first sleepover. She spent the days leading up to it talking incessantly about what she needed to do to prepare, to pack, to be mentally and physically ready. The day of the sleepover her red ladybug sleeping bag and little overnight bag were packed and placed by the backdoor before the sun came up. The Quail, when she came to the kitchen saw it and ran to her room to grab a Dora backpack and quickly started shoving her jammies, her duck-duck lovies and a new pair of Elmo undies in it and raced back to place it by her sister’s. When I turned from the coffee maker and saw it there, a tear welled up knowing that this was going to be the first of a long string of conversations about why she couldn’t go along. Conversations that naturally happen with any group of siblings and friends, but conversations that ring with an extra tinge of sadness in my ears and heart as I wonder when she will have her own turn.
For now, though, we take it one activity at a time. As Zuzu packs up her pink purse to head over to her friend’s house for pizza and a movie Lovey pulls Clifford off of the bookshelf and invites the littles into his lap. When he is ready to run Zuzu to her friends, I move into the living room to ask if anyone wants to watch Barney. The cheers of the girls drown out the closing door and car engine starting up as I wipe my eyes and pick up the Netflix remote.