Just one Smile

May 31, 2011
I glared at my watch as the time got closer and closer to 3:00. I had never stayed up this late before. My eye lids were sagging but before I fell asleep, my brain reminded me in twenty minutes I was going to meet my new baby brother. Being the centre of attention was great but sometimes mom and dad were too busy with work and the Barbie’s got boring. Once again, my eyelids pulled together like magnets and my shoulders slouched into the couch. I gave into the comfort of my couch and my mind went blank.

I woke up to the sound of high pitch crying. My eyes flew wide open and didn’t even have time to adjust to the bright fluorescent lights of the room. I sprang off of my couch and ran upstairs into the newly renovated room. My dad and mom, both slouched to grab the wooden crib for support, stopped me before I could get any closer to the crib.

“Could I just see the baby?” I begged.

“No, now be quiet. The baby needs to sleep and you running up the stairs isn’t helping.

Go to your room and shush,” my mom whispered in a stern tone.

I stomped into my room, picked up one of my Barbies and threw it against the wall. The head rolled off of the plastic body and bounced into the corner of my room. Why couldn’t I see him? He was my brother. I had every right to see him even if he was crying. He probably wanted to see me too. I crawled into bed and waited until the crying stopped. While I was waiting I thought of names for my brother. Sam? Ty? Xavier? Then finally after catching a glimpse of Barbie’s detached head, I thought of the perfect name. Ken. Every boy wishes he were Ken. Ken was perfect. I had to tell my parents about this flawless plan. The crying had finally stopped when I entered the room. My parents were hovering over my brother’s crib. They stared at each other with barely open eyes. Before I could open my mouth, my mom pointed at the door and mouthed the word “leave”.

“We have to name him Ken,” I whispered, ignoring her orders.

“Lisa, we have already decided on a name. His name is Todd. We named him after your great grandfather. Sorry,” my mom explained. She sighed and turned her attention back to Todd.

Todd. What an ugly name! The name has no meaning to it! My brother deserves a better name. But I knew there was no point in arguing with my parents because they would just send me back to my room. I stepped around my parents to get the first peek of my brother. The size of his head! Why was it so small? And why was the face so flat? The next thing I noticed was his hands. His fingers were so short. What was wrong with my brother? He didn’t look like a normal baby. I looked at my parents for an explanation but their gaze was fixed on the baby. I didn’t care how long it was going to take; I was going to stand here until I got an explanation. After a long ten minutes, my dad deeply sighed and took a weary step towards me.

“Lisa… Your brother Todd has Down syndrome. We were going to tell you later but I guess you’ve noticed,” my dad whispered. I took a double take at my dad’s face. It looked like Death stole the life out of him.

Todd woke up to the sound of my dad’s voice and whimpered. His eyelids opened and for the first time I saw his eyes. Like the other parts of his body, his eyes were weirdly shaped; his right eye was slanted. He had bright blue eyes; just like me and grandma. Todd burst into tears and flailed his arms and legs. My hands flew up to cover my ears. I held my hands to my ears until the crying settled. My dad pulled Todd into his arms and rocked him back and forth. I dropped my hands to my side and looked at Todd. He looked at me and grinned. I smiled back, bigger than I ever have.

Whenever I asked my parents if they could play Barbie or watch T.V. with me or even help me with homework, I got no response. Boy… having… Todd… was worst than being an only child because now, mom and dad barely spent time with me. Whenever I tried to play peek-a-boo with Todd he always ends up sleeping within 20 minutes. Sometimes mom and dad have to take him away because he has coughing fits. Why didn’t my parents bring home a normal brother?

Sunday- I woke up at 8 a.m. to another sunny day except today meant we were going to IHOP! Was Todd going to go? There was only one way I could find out. I ran into my parent’s room but they were nowhere to be found. There was only one other place they could be in; Todd’s room. I opened the brass door handle and no one was there. I ran downstairs and saw Anne, my babysitter, reading the newspaper outside. This was unacceptable! I grabbed the nearest phone and dialed my dad’s cell phone number.

“Hello?” my dad answered.

“Hey! We’re supposed to be at IHOP right now eating pancakes! You left me!” I accused him.

“Look Lisa, we’re at the hospital right now with Todd. He’s getting his weekly check up, so you better get used to this. No more IHOP Sundays. I’m sorry. I’ll see you in a couple of hours,” he replied. He didn’t sound sorry.

Tears came to my eyes. No more IHOP Sundays... So unfair! I ran into my room and slammed the door so hard, the walls vibrated. I woke up early for nothing! I threw myself back onto my bed and cried myself to sleep.

For the second time, I woke up to the sound of Todd crying.

“Tell him to be quiet! I’m trying to sleep!” I screamed.

“Lisa! Please! We’re trying our best!” my mom screamed back. I could feel the tension through the walls – the entire house felt like it was going to collapse.

“Well I need my sleep, since you woke me up for nothing!” I could hear my mom’s footsteps pounding towards my room.

She pushed my door aside. Her face was red and her eyes were bloodshot.

“The whole world doesn’t revolve around you, Lisa. It’s not like your brother wants to cry. He’s in pain. Why can’t you realize that and just shut up for once?!”

I couldn’t move a muscle in my body. My mom left and I fell back onto my bed and sobbed into my pillow. I could hear my parents comforting Todd. Why did both mom and dad need to comfort Todd? I needed comforting too…

I lied on my bed until it was time for dinner. I wasn’t in the mood to do anything else. When my parents called me down for dinner, I stomped down the stairs just so my parents knew I was angry. The first person who I noticed was Todd. He was really small for a 3 month old baby. He was sitting in his specially made highchair. His eyes were locked onto mine and he was grinning at me again with his uneven mouth and eyes. Even though he didn’t look like a regular cute baby, I couldn’t help but to smile back. Amazingly, he laughed when I smiled back at him. That was the first time our family heard Todd laugh. It was like Todd wanted to please me. His hands reached for mine but before I could hold his, my mom slapped my hand away.

“But he wants to hold-“Todd’s shriek interrupted me.

“Okay okay, hold his hand quickly!” my mom yelled over Todd’s crying.

Gently, I placed my right hand on top of Todd’s. His oddly shaped fingers wrapped around mine and his tear filled eyes glared at me. His crying turned into laughter. I couldn’t help myself but to laugh too. While mom and dad looked at each other confused, our laughter filled the room. When I pulled my hand away to get a fork, Todd’s smile turned upside down into a frown and he grasped onto my hand as hard as he could. I knew what I was going to do. I sat down with my mash potatoes and peas on the left side of my body and held Todd’s hand with my right hand. Although it was almost impossible to eat with my left hand because I was right handed, it was worth it. Seeing Todd smile was worth anything.

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