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A Hundred Golden Dandelions This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Every week, my friend Rebecca Stephens and I visit a family who adopts children with Down's syndrome. We help the children with their homework, play with them and read them stories. This is about our experience: A Hundred Golden Dandelions

The children hug us, harder and harder, until our ribs are almost crushed,
laughing, grinning, creating the happiest hullabaloo I've ever heard.
Their smiles are too big for their small faces,
and, as we run outside to the jungle gym, their laughter and joy
overflow, spilling onto the earth.
By springtime, their happiness has become a hundred golden dandelions.
Running, skipping, hopping, singing and laughing,
always laughing,
I wonder if they have honey running through their veins instead of blood.

Danny climbs up the slide, bounces on the seesaw, hangs upside down from the monkey
bars by his knees,
"Look at me! Look at me!" he shouts, and gives a dozen histrionic bows when we clap for him.
Courtney is twelve, and in love with love.
She sits on the swing and begs us to push her, higher and higher,
as she dreams of Cinderella and fairy godmothers, of boyfriends and nail polish and pink prom dresses.
Though my arms ache I cannot bring myself to take a break and tear her away from her romantic reveries
when I see the small smile which rests upon her pink-painted lips.
And Timmy, with his sky blue eyes and golden hair,
clings to my leg, taking furtive peeks at the world,
then quickly retreating, burying his face in the crisp folds of my windbreaker.
Later, though, he'll sit on my lap and we'll read The Little Engine That Could, giggling and cheering when the train reaches the top of the hill.

Researchers have found that Down's syndrome is the result of one extra chromosome
associated with the 23 pairs human beings usually have,
but as Courtney wraps her soft arms around me in a hug,
and Danny's eyes light up as he scores his first homerun in kickball,
I wonder that they are not the hapless victims of a cruel genetic error,
but the children of warm summer days, of swings and slides,
of chocolate cupcakes with cream in the middle,
of icy lemonades in the middle of July and snowflakes that melt on your tongue.
Clumps of Timmy's golden hair have begun to fall out
(Down's kids are prone to alopecia),
Danny must test his blood sugar three times a day,
sticking needles into fingers which were made to throw Frisbees and swing from monkey bars
(he was just diagnosed with diabetes),
and Courtney has had three cancerous moles removed from her back.
But they never stop smiling.
Their joy is contagious;
their smiles spill from their enfants faces
onto me, the aides, neighbors, passersby, and we watch
as they go running, skipping, hopping, singing and laughing,
always laughing,
among a hundred golden dandelions.

by Sheri L., E. Setauket, NY


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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