People are often surprised when they learn Maggie’s age. She is very small and does not look her anywhere near her age. I am used to the shocked “16?!?!?” when they politely inquire. I have no idea what they think her age is – I stopped trying to figure people out a long time ago. If I get any reaction at all, its more about me than about her. I hear – “You’ve been taking care of her for 16 years?’ Wow.” (It is nice, I suppose, though I’m never sure how I’m supposed to react to that.) I just think of her as a little girl – just as any mother would.
Recently I had the great pleasure of spending some time with a charming 6 year old girl who came to visit. Not that I ever thought it was the case, but I learned from that visit that Maggie is definitely not like a 6 year old either.
The little girl, “Z” is the daughter of the man who painted our house last Spring. He was here to do some touch up work the day before Thanksgiving. It was a school holiday and Z was accompanying her dad. She was here only a few minutes, but she was a breath of fresh air blowing through the house. I invited her in to meet Maggie while her dad worked outside. She enthusiastically agreed and marched right in before her dad could say yes or no.
I have to describe her outfit before I continue. Very few people could make this combination of clothing work – but she did. I’m guessing she dressed herself and that she chose her outfit with great care. She had a red print jumper over a multi colored (no red) shirt with a completely different print, striped tights and black glittery Snow White shoes. She was absolutely adorable.
I introduced her to Maggie and Z waved and said “hello.” Slowly Maggie waved back. I started to tell Z about Maggie to eliminate any concern that Z might have. Not necessary. She was not concerned in the least, she was curious. She asked Maggie a couple of questions, and I told her what movements Maggie makes to say “Yes” and “No”. That was highly amusing for both girls.
Z looked quizzically at Maggie for a couple of moments. I knew she wanted to ask something and I waited. Obviously, a little girl will have a lot of questions about someone as different as Maggie. I anticipated questions about her talker or how I understand her or whether Maggie hurts. What I didn’t expect was a practical question.
Z put her hands on her hips and said, “How does she get in her bed?” I stifled a laugh because the question was so innocent and so wise at the same time, and she was quite concerned. People don’t ordinarily consider the logistics of Maggie’s life. But there was nothing ordinary about this girl. I told her we had to put Maggie in and out of bed. That completely satisfied her. In another minute she was telling us about a friend at school who uses a wheelchair but according to Z “she can still talk, though.” It was so matter of fact and so energizing at the same time.
Maggie laughed as Z told us about their planned trip for the Thanksgiving weekend. I told her Maggie wanted to go with her and Z was all ready to pack Maggie up for the ride. Her Dad came back in and told her it was time to go, she wanted to stay longer but cheerfully said her goodbyes to Maggie and left with her Dad.
Maggie and I laughed after she left because we haven’t had such excellent energy in this house in a long time. I looked at Maggie and realized that despite her diminutive appearance, Maggie is not such a little girl anymore She looked positively weathered next to Z.