“I oooo!”

Two weeks ago, Deb and I took baby Joy into a Walgreens at 11 pm to buy summer clearance items and Tylenol. Deb printed out some coupons as I wandered (with still-awake Joy in her car seat on top of my grocery cart) over to the summer items that were up to 90% off. Flip-flops were 70% off. Pool noodles were 80% off—just 49 cents each. I grabbed all six of them.

Deb wandered around, looking at discounted shampoos, conditioners, and makeup. After twenty minutes, Joy and I were ready to go. Finally, Deb agreed to check out.

We wandered over to the cashier, an elderly woman who was quite chatty. At first, I paid little attention to what she was saying. I handed her one noodle and told her I had five more in my arms. She scanned it six times and then began tapping Joy on her bare feet with the five-foot noodle.

“Does that tickle your toes, baby? Look at that smile.”

Deb and I smiled.

“Does he walk and talk yet?” asked the cashier. “The reason I ask is that I have a friend who is basically in the same situation as y’all. Her baby doesn’t walk or talk yet.”

Deb said, “Well, we have a girl. Her name is Joy—”

“Oh, a girl!” The cashier again used the noodle to tap on Joy.  “Oh! Oh! Haha!”

Does this woman not realize that I have five noodles in my hands and could start tapping HER at any moment? I thought.

I look at Joy for hours every day, and I almost never see or think Down syndrome. I think it irritated me that the cashier had looked at my baby for five seconds and saw the “same situation” as her “friend.” And apparently the “situation” wasn’t having the most loving, most beautiful baby in the world. The situation was a delay in walking and speech.

But I was calm. I thought: What would Joy do? Joy would smile and give a hug. So I smiled. I held the noodles tight in my arms.

Joy fell asleep on the way home.

A few days later I used one noodle as packing material for a large item we sold on eBay.

The box was 42 x 24 x 24 inches and weighed 73 pounds. The box would not fit in my car. So I put it on a hand truck and walked it to the UPS Store, which is 0.9 mile away, on Watson. And, yes, I walked back with the empty hand truck. Then I had a nap.

Joy can walk now. She typically takes twenty steps before she sits down. I call that walking. That’s about how many steps I take before sitting down.

Joy can say a few words, too. She says “hi,” “Dada,” “Ah ah ah ah,” and most recently: “I oooo!” (I love you!)

“I oooo!” almost always follows one of her wonderful kisses.

Joy, I love oooo too!

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