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Luke and ThomasGrandchildren are God’s way of compensating us for growing old. Mary H. Waldrip

Imagination, it gets soaked with the ugliness of world events and can be destroyed. I need space in between each hit from hate. Meditation, exercise, and play help both my physical and mental state.

My youngest granddaughter is here today to bring welcome sunshine. She names a toy koala, Thomas and a toy cow, Luke. (Since the doll-version is gender-neutral, the name doesn’t really matter in fantasy. Ella was Daddy in our last game.) The boundaries of reality expand in play.

“How high can you jump, Luke?” I ask as Thomas.

Apparently, the surface of my bed has lost gravity. Or fuzzy, button-eyed cows have super powers.

Thomas leaps and lands on a blue blanket—a cave, with a bear inside. Time to explore.

Danger means excitement, never malice. The bear growls, yet never attacks. The toys fall. Their injuries are healed with imaginary bandages. Within seconds.

And so am I…

 

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The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved—loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves. (Victor Hugo)

Ella has scarcely removed her coat when she runs to a shoe box full of small toys. A special Friday. A day off school. Time to play.

She grabs the plastic slide and the character, Diego. I know she will want Dora the Explorer next, so I reach for the figure closer to the same size. (We have several Doras in the box.) Ella chooses the slightly larger figure.

Size is not significant in the world of make-believe. I forget. Play is my granddaughter’s realm. She makes most of the choices here. She needs to yield to the adult world often enough. In make-believe, she has more experience.

We take turns leading the figures down the slide: on their bellies, head first, up the wrong way, and one friend giving the other a gentle nudge to move faster. Then Ella decides head first means vertical, with feet facing up. She laughs.

She is a child, but she lives in the real world, too. She is aware of the attitudes others have toward her whether she can verbally express what she knows or not. Talking about her struggles in her presence, is unfair. Even cruel.

Yes, Ella has Down syndrome. She needs to work harder in some areas. However, she has been reading for several years—sounding out words, not simply memorizing them. Ella has a sense of humor.

“Look!” she says. She turns Diego’s head around.

“Are you doing that again?” I say for Dora. Then I turn Dora’s head around. “But, you do it so much better, Diego.”

Ella howls with laughter.

I suggest placing the two figures on the back of a plush ladybug. “Let’s fly.” Our fantasy world continues.

That’s how I know I’ve been completely accepted into her imaginative space. I consider it a promotion.

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