She's a beautiful 10 years old. Thick curly black hair frames an impish face transitioning between little girl and young woman. I know her mother, and indeed her whole family, is working to teach her boundaries. Little girl close up hugs are now for family alone. She may really like those who care for her, but it's time to show affection differently.
She is standing right beside a very handsome Latino man barely 10 years her senior. They've known each other for a long time, she desperately wants to hug him, you can see it. He smiles down at her, she grins up at him. Small for her age, he seems like a giant beside her. He knows that the rules have changed as she has changed. She only sort of understands why things are different. She leans towards him as if she was resting against the 'bubble' that is his personal space.
I'm moments away from teaching a group of 50 people with disabilities about abuse prevention. I'm inspired by this moment of wonderful parenting. I'm inspired by a little girl who is learning, right on time, right on schedule, how to be a young woman. I'm inspired by a young man who is careful to show that he still cares, but does it in a way that keeps her safe.
It's possible ... really possible ... for little girls with Down Syndrome to grow into healthy adulthood. All they need is guidance. Like all little girls, in all families. For a moment I believe that the world I want to live in is possible.