June 3, 2010

A Memorial Day hike

Is this growth and maturity in Alex for real? Has she really climbed some more of the mountain looking for her next plateau? I sure hope so, I like this new Alex. Of course, I liked the old Alex too, but this new Alex, who likes to hike with her parents, is my favorite Alex.

I have talked before about Alex our adventure girl, she is always the first one of the kids to agree to go to the movies, try a new restaurant or explore. There is a common theme is all these adventures however, they are sedentary.

Alex has always loved sports, and she does get a lot of fulfillment and joy from participating in activities with her peers. However, we have difficulty getting Alex to do anything athletic with us. This extends to walking, biking, and hiking. It is always a battle to get Alex away from the Disney channel and into the beautiful outdoors with us.

A quick aside; Alex cannot ride a two wheeler, so we used to have an adult trike. Alex liked this mode of transportation, but she found it difficult to ride on anything but flat surfaces. Since we live in the mountains, our flat surfaces are limited; we sold the trike and Alex does not have a bike now.

Monday was Memorial Day and a holiday for all of us. Summer, and I keep my fingers crossed, may have arrived in our Valley. The day was beautiful and warm, a perfect day for a hike.

When Alex woke she asked what we were doing for the day. The calendar had nothing on it, and our day was free. On a lark, I proposed Alex join John and I for a hike, and sweetened the deal with the suggestion of a picnic lunch. I almost fell of my chair when Alex quickly agreed, and then volunteered to make the sandwiches.

Another quick aside; Courtney and Tom are of the age where they prefer their own activities and disappear as soon as they waken. This is not the case with Alex, her friendships are limited. My feelings about this hole in her life are mixed, sometimes it breaks my heart and at others time I accept it for what it is. In either case this does deserve its own entry at some point.

We went to an area with a trail that follows a creek for miles and miles. It was beautiful and with the roar of the overflowing creek, and the sun shining through the leaves it was perfect. We hiked for about a half hour before we stopped for lunch. Alex even agreed to go further on the trail after lunch, perhaps the lure of the potato chips “after we hiked some more” helped. Sometimes I just have to break the rules….

We turned around after hiking up the trail for about 45 minutes. Although slower than us, Alex did stay on task and kept walking. She has been known to stop in the middle of a trail and sit down, refusing to walk further. This did not happen on our Memorial Day hike, and although I did hear minor complaints about the ankle, she hiked, smiled and enjoyed the day.

I loved spending time with this “new” Alex. She was fun, entertaining and silly. We had a great time and to be truthful, I got a kick out of the strange looks we got from people. I imagine observers are wondering who we are; the laughing couple and the teenager with down syndrome. I can only hope this will continue, and the teenager with down syndrome who refuses to walk any further and engenders looks of compassion or confusion from passer-bys has left our lives. It was a Memorial Day to remember.

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