There are two magical moments that I did not capture with a photo this holiday that shows that this girl really can.
There are plenty of moments that we don’t capture, that people don’t see but which are part of family life with Trudy.
We were recently on holiday in Balmedie, north of Aberdeen. Fifteen miles of beach which the poodle loved, and Patrick and Trudy returned to their roots to explore the sea and the sand, having grown up by the beach. Trudy ran and didn’t stop running, splashing in the waves and squeezing the wet sand between her fingers whilst our baby squirmed at the alien feeling of sand in her toes.
I’ve never seen her run so well, with solid ankles that took so long to straighten and required special boots for support, with straight legs that have become stronger and less hypotonic. She was in her element, literally.
But the moment that trumped all moments and shows how far she has come is when she tobogganed down the dunes. Yes, I said toboggan. We came across some children who were having a party in the dunes. Alex spoke to one of the dads who explained why they all had toboggans, and incidentally why there was one outside our holiday cottage. They were heading to the dunes to slide down them.
My heart was in my mouth as she ran across to the steepest dune, a good 20 metres off the ground and with a 85% gradient down to a puddle in the basin. We all stopped the consider the height, the steepness with our brains which fear and calculate risk so efficiently but stop us from ever doing anything. Trudy, all impulse, launched herself at the bottom of the dune and began to scale the heights. She scrambled against the sand until she got to the top. Meanwhile, we all started thinking she wouldnt get there, that it was impossible for a 6 year old with Down’s Syndrome to manage that. But when she did, Patrick ran up after her, Alex in tow to help her. Did she need help? Not in the slightest. She stood at the top, she managed the risk, watched her brother have a go then slid down on her bottom. Squeals of delight echoed across the dunes. She had achieved so much right then and she didn’t even need us to praise it. She was just glad she’d done what everyone else was doing
This is why this girl can, why so many underestimated young people can despite the assumptions we make based on their perceived ability. The desire to be part of a group can be strong motivation indeed to overcome the greatest of challenges.