Pixie here. You’ve heard me talk about Mom, but what you may not not know is that really I’m the dog of my Mom’s daughter. She’s really special, a little different from other kids, but I love her just the same. She’s graduating high school this year, which may not seem like that big a deal to you, but it’s huge for us. See, Stef has been in special education all her life; she can communicate but not really well or at the level of other kids her age. She can read, but not well, and while she likes her independence, she won’t be living on her own any time soon. So this is a huge milestone for her and all of us in our family.
The problem is that with the end of the school year comes all those things that normal kids, well, I can’t say take for granted because they’re a big deal to them, but it isn’t exactly the time for thinking of others. Take Prom night for example. Prom was last night for Stef’s high school. She started talking about prom back in September, right around the time she realized that being a senior was special. She planned to go, get a dress, a date, everything that going to prom means. Now we’ve all seen those lovely stories about the kid with Down syndrome being elected Prom King, or Homecoming Queen, or to the various courts. They are heart-warming, wonderful stories and really give you faith in the youth of today. This isn’t one of those stories. Honestly, for every one special kid honored this way, there are probably a couple dozen who are forgotten. Stef is one of those forgotten ones. Stef didn’t go to homecoming. She was left out the group senior picture in the yearbook. Seriously, when seniors were asked to assemble or participate in something, most of the time, they forget to call the special ed kids. But she kept talking about prom.
Stef doesn’t have Down Syndrome, and she isn’t the outgoing, overly friendly type. She isn’t unpleasant, and she can be quiet (except at home when she sings at the top of her lungs and so off-key it almost hurts, but no one would every tell her to stop), and her face looks serious, and sometimes, not often at all but sometimes, she can forget about her mouth and a little bit of drool can come out. She’s tall, curvy (and who in the great scheme of things thought that was a good idea?), and rather shy. She has a wicked sense of humor once you get to know her, and she loves to play games.
So prom night was coming up, and Mom and Dad were really worried about how disappointed Stef was going to be. No group of friends volunteered to take her, no date, nothing. Mom even reached out to her former students for ideas, but no one got in touch with her. That’s when a small, quiet, lovely little thing happened. Stef’s been a member of Best Buddies since she started high school. Best Buddies is a group that pairs up kids with developmental and intellectual disabilities with peer buddies just for friendship. Stef’s best buddy this year is a junior. I’m not going to mention her name because she didn’t give me permission (not that I asked, but I won’t publish her name without her or her parents’ permission). Juniors are also allowed to go to the prom. All of Stef’s buddy’s friends were going but she wasn’t. Instead, she called Stef, told Stef that she thought prom would be boring, and how about they went out to dinner and then went bowling instead? Stef spent the last two weeks talking about how she wasn’t going to prom, how she had better plans. So last night, while all the other high school juniors and seniors were getting dressed up, picked up in limos, spending lots of money on one night, Stef went out with a friend, had a wonderful time, and just felt like she was part of something. That she had a friend. Something most of us take for granted.
A small, quiet, heart-warming story.
You know, I couldn’t love Stef more if she were “normal”.
P.S. Mom pledged 10% of her royalties from AS YOU WISH to Best Buddies International, so if you want a fun read and contribute to a good cause…