Educating Felicity & Friends

          As I open the front door, I hear the familiar excitement of my 3-year-old niece, Felicity, followed by her loud exclamation, “Mar Mar!”  She runs towards me and leaps into my outstretched arms.  She returns my heartfelt embrace, wrapping her arms strongly around my neck and pats me tenderly on my back, imitating what I have done to her so many times throughout the years.  “May I give you a kiss?” I ask.  She proceeds to give me a sweet kiss on my cheek.  I respond with a smile and gaze at her as she returns my smile with a huge one of her own.  Throwing her head back, her entire face is enveloped with her wide, toothy grin.  She is beautiful!  Her chunky purple glasses sit on her flat nose, the thick plastic masking her slanted eyes.  Her straight blond hair is pulled back as usual in a ponytail, tiny hair clips keeping stray strands from falling into her eyes.   Down Syndrome makes her a tiny three-year-old at 2 ft. 8 in. and 28 lbs.  As soon as I place her back on the ground and she secures her balance, she bounds quickly back into the kitchen, her voice trailing behind her, “Milk.”  I follow her with my usual response.  “How do you ask nicely, Felicity?”  She states each work slowly and deliberately. “May I peaz have milk peaz?”  I beam with pride as I think of the progress she has made over the past several years.  Imitating what she has heard me do so often, she begins to narrate my actions as I get her a drink of milk.  “Open,” she says as I open the refrigerator.  “Yes, I am opening the refrigerator.  You say it.”  She repeats my words, one at a time.  “Open the refrigerator.”  “Oh, bup!” she says as she runs to get her little glass cup.  “Say that better, with a “c”.  Look at me.  C------up.”  She repeats me.  “Much better!  Cup!”  Watching her gulp down her milk, I comment, “You must have been thirsty.”  “All done,” she declares as she reaches with her short, chubby arm to put the cup on the counter.  “Elp,” she says.  After lifting her up so she can place the cup on the counter, I ask her where the other kids are.  “Oh,” she says as she guides me into the home-school room where her seven older siblings are absorbed in their alternative worlds of books and computers.  The youngest three of seven, Marguerite, Philomena, and Miguel, greet me with hugs and kisses.  Meanwhile, some of the teenagers return my “hello”, while the others pretend they can’t hear me with headphones in their ears.  “Books!” Felicity exclaims as she wanders towards me from the book cabinet, her arms weighed down under a tall stack which she throws onto the couch.  “Mar Mar, books.”  As I relax on the couch, she crawls into my lap.  Margeurite, Philomena, and Miguel also secure space next to me as I begin to read. 

          Felicity is absorbed in the story as she gazes at the pictures in the book.  As soon as the last book has been read, I hear, “More.”  She climbs off the couch and hobbles to the book cabinet where she grabs another armful of books.  Staggering back to the couch, her vision is obscured by the stack and she trips over the vacuum cleaner nozzle.  The books cascade across the floor as she cries.  I rush over to her and scoop her into my arms.  “Where does it hurt?”  Tears roll down her cheeks under her purple glasses which now rest crooked on her face.  Using her stubby pointer finger, she touches her knee, “Boo boo.”  In an instant, all distress is washed away by my kisses on both knees.  “Dishoo,” she says as she makes the sign for tissue.  Once her tears are wiped away and glasses adjusted, her siblings and I help her gather the books she dropped.  Once again, we continue to read after she sinks comfortably back into my lap.

          Like Felicity, I jump into Your arms Heavenly Father.  I find peace and joy in Your presence.  You smile at me and I return the smile.  I trust that You will care for my needs.  I do not need to dwell on the past nor agonize about the future.  I take delight in Your presence in the present moment.  I rest safely in Your arms, Heavenly Father.   As I rest in You, I hear Your whisper, “Be still and know that I am God.”  I embrace opportunities to learn and grow.   When I fall and get hurt, You run to me and scoop me up in Your arms and comfort me with Your kisses.  My distress is washed away.  You remind me when I am sad that “this too shall pass.”  I find serenity in Your secure embrace.

Like a Child

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 18: 3