October 31, 2010

The mountain and the boyfriend

A little while ago I shared some updates which included the following:

• Alex went on a first date
• Alex won a blue ribbon at the Regional Bowling Competition with scores of 104 and 107
• Alex had her first kiss
• Alex has a boyfriend – well sort-of

As a result of these milestones, Alex has begun to climb the proverbial mountain again. I know this will not last, but I am celebrating this growth as much as I can. We still have the obstinacy, the lack of exercise and the food battles, but generally Alex has shown development in many areas; responsibility, academics and social interactions. Perhaps a boyfriend was the answer; it sure worked with me when I was her age.

This new man in Alex’s life (well teenage boy), I will call “T”. T is the only teenage boy with down syndrome in our Valley. There is another teenager named “J”, but he lives about an hour away. T and J both participate in Special Olympics with Alex; the three of them are the best of buddies. This goes back to support my recent awareness that Alex shines when she is with people similar to her.

As an aside, I really enjoy T and J. They are good friends and are kind and caring. They both have great senses of humor, and are really fun to talk with. Like Alex they find humor in many things, and try their hardest at bowling. Unlike Alex, they are not too concerned about their bowing scores, but are always there to comfort her when she has one of her fits because she didn’t get a strike.

My heart melts when I see the three of them together. They are magically drawn to each other and spend a lot of time group hugging. I find this to be so beautiful; Alex is the center of their consciousness and it is almost as if they are vying for her consideration. Needless to say my 17 year old daughter feeds off this attention; just like any 17 year old girl I know.

T goes to a different school than Alex, one about 25 minutes away. Alex is the manager of her high school’s football team; T participates in the half time show at his high school. It finally occurred to me, three years after Alex started high school, these two high schools play each other every year in football; it is our version of a cross town rivalry. This year, in a burst of semi intelligence, I realized Alex and T might enjoy attending with each other.

The year’s game was scheduled at T’s high school, so I called T’s mother and asked if we could set these two together for a “date”. She agreed and Alex’s first date was born. To say Alex was excited is an understatement. She got dressed up, donned a purse and even put on make-up, all without my prodding.

As with all games involving rivals, there was the irresolvable argument over which side to sit on. T, ever the gentleman, suggested sitting in Alex’s side for the first half, and T’s side for the second half. For the next two hours I saw (as I was not allowed anywhere near these two) giggles, whispered secrets and beautiful smiles. I also noticed Alex’s peers made a concerted effort to say hello, I sensed they too were happy for Alex, and she was proud to share T with everyone (except me of course!). It was the best first date I could have ever imagined for my extraordinary daughter.

Although no real subsequent dates have transpired, aside from bowling practice, T and Alex have declared each other boyfriend/girlfriend. Alex has also declared she wants two boyfriends, T and another boy from her high school. I do not think that is possible, as I do not know of any boys at Alex’s high school who are good candidates; but certainly Alex can hope.

Flash forward two week to the Regional Special Olympics Bowling Competition. Both Alex and T won blue ribbons in their divisions. Needles to say, they were high fiving and hugging each other to celebrate their victories. T took this celebration a bit further and planted a big one on Alex’s lips in the middle of the bowling alley. Luckily I witnessed this, as this form of PDA is not so cool. I went over to talk to Alex and T, just as Alex came running up to be with the biggest smile you have ever seen, “Mom, I just got my first kiss”. Again, the heart melt.

As gently as I could, I explained to T and Alex that kissing was a nice thing, but was not to be done in public. They both seemed to agree, and I went back to my seat. T, still so excited about the ribbons, thought it was necessary to plant another big one on Alex’s lips. At this point I was laughing too much to be effective and T’s dad took care of the talk. Although inappropriate, this was sweet and caring and exactly what Alex has been hoping for two years.

I am happy for Alex, but I also learned a big lesson. Alex does not yet know the correct behaviors about kissing, and this frightens me. She also knows nothing about sex, as I never talked to her about it. I actually am a very chicken hearted Mom when it comes to the sex talks; the schools have always handled it.

I need to say on top of this, and teach Alex. I was reminded of something I saw with Courtney’s boyfriends, teenage boys are teenage boys no matter how many chromosomes they have; it’s all about the hormones!

Perhaps we need to slow down this particular summit pursuit. I know having male attention was the catalyst for this growth, but this teenage dating, kissing and who knows what, are scaring me to death!


  1. That is something Beth still desires. A first boyfriend. She 'fell in love' with Nick Jonas to the point that she would literally sob when she saw him with another girl on TV.

    She's been involved in a social group called All Aboard for a few years now. Each week they get together for bowling, karaoke, cooking classes, etc. She has only recently shown interest in a guy there. I think it would be good for her, but she is so niave about love and kissing and....

    It scares me too!

  2. A lot of people would say that mating and dating was a performance, so kissing was especially appropriate in public!

    And not to undermine, but yes, it is all about the hormones (for teenage boys).

    Hooray for the Olympians!


Thanks for your note, we love hearing from you!