Amy Silverman: Overalls
It's one week til the November midterms — but much, much more pressing is that it's only one day until Halloween! Amy Silverman has kids and a new insight from this year's preparations.
I finally bought my kid some overalls last week. It was time.
Sophie’s been asking for overalls for years, and for years I’ve been changing the subject. That’s not to say this isn’t a kid who gets what she wants. No fewer than five dresses were purchased in anticipation of a recent Homecoming dance.
But some habits die hard.
It’s been more than 15 years, yet I can still remember how it felt to hear for the first time that my younger daughter had Down syndrome.
Like I’d been slung-shot into space — somersaulting, flailing about for something to hang onto.
Something like overalls.
Okay, so the baby, my baby, had this thing. But she didn’t have to fit any of the stereotypes. She’d wear only the cutest clothes, like her older sister. Nothing that reminded me — or the world — that she was different.
At first, it was easy. Babies don’t have much of an opinion about what they wear.
When Sophie had open heart surgery, I hunted for the softest, prettiest onesies that snapped up the front.
When she needed orthotics to walk, I found Converse that fit over them.
And then came the overalls, at the bottom of a bag of hand-me-downs, pink velour, size 24 months. I hid them. It was a long time before I realized the trigger: the character Lennie Small in “Of Mice and Men,” John Steinbeck’s story of Depression-era migrant workers. Lennie is, as they said back then, “slow.” And he wears overalls.
Over the years — almost as though she could read my mind — Sophie asked for overalls. I’d distract her with a dress or some leggings.
Fast forward to this Halloween.
Sophie will be her all-time favorite character, Piglet, from Winnie the Pooh.
A couple weeks ago, I ordered soft, pink, Disney-approved pig ears.
“Hey what are you doing?” Sophie asked as I closed my laptop. I told her.
“I need pink overalls,” she announced. “For my Piglet costume.”
“Are you sure you want them?” I asked. “I mean, technically, Piglet doesn’t wear overalls.”
“I’m sure,” she said.
She had me. She knows how much I love Halloween. I stalled, finally consulting with an old friend.
“It’s time,” my friend said gently.
And it was. I don’t see Down syndrome when I look at Sophie. I don’t see Lennie. I see a creative, rambunctious, smart, pushy young woman who is a combination of my husband and me and a little extra genetic material.
There is no one else in the world quite like Sophie, no matter what she wears.
I ordered the overalls.
When they arrived, she squealed, rushing to her bedroom to try them on. They didn’t fit. Sophie tugged on the snaps. One of the silver fasteners popped off.
“Don’t worry, I’ll order another size!” I said quickly. “We still have time before Halloween.”
Sophie wriggled out of the overalls, ditching them — and perhaps the idea of overalls forever — on the kitchen floor.
“No,” she said. “Don’t order more. I think I’ll be Steampunk Piglet instead.”
Amy Silverman is the author of "My Heart Can’t Even Believe It: A story of Love, Science, and Down Syndrome." She blogs about Sophie at "Girl In A Party Hat."