Memorial Day last I was in greater Detroit to be best man at the wedding of a very close friend. We rented out a floor for folks like me who came in for the event from out of town, state and country. Daily, we would meet for the free breakfasts at the Inn.
Untold games of thumb wars, geography, pin the tail on the Enoch; and swimming in the heated hotel pool were enjoyed by us all. Generations of guests all bonded together as family. Personally, I invested over $1,000 in board games and crafts kits from the Meijer's Department Store toy section. No child or teen left the Inn without something to use and take home, courtesy of "Uncle Enoch". Give the young something fun to do, a little warm attention and encouragement. They will be too busy to get into trouble.
One young lady, let's call her Sophie, was and remains painfully shy. She doesn't mix well with others her age. She rarely speaks. Gradually, she did with me. She would accompany her Mom, Dad, brother and me on our philosopher's walks after parkside lunches. As a rule Sophie is inert. One day someone had a device which plays music at the park. To my complete surprise, she flew into action, dancing all the right steps with effortless ease. This young lady can really bust a move!
No less surprising, she danced freely with her brother, mom and particularly her dad. She even came to me and started dancing. Usually men lead and the women follow. It was all I could do to keep up with her running the show out in this open air forum, with many around and watching.
As we drove home from the dance marathon, Sophie climbed back into her quiet withdrawn shell. Her mom informed me that Sophie takes dance lessons. It is her one activity around others in which she participates freely and openly.
I smiled at Sophie. I observed that there are many ways people have to express themselves. I noted she had chosen the most graceful one of all to do so, the dance. Sophie, a fine young lady with attention deficit disorder, and autism threw her arms around and and hugged me. Sophie rarely touches or allows anyone physically contact. That is not unknown for someone with her challenges.
Yesterday afternoon I was at the viewing of her recently departed 92 year old grandfather. Sophie and her family were present, of course. At one point, her Uncle, the one for whose wedding last spring I served as best man, and I walked outside the funeral home, for a breath of fresh air. It is cold, crisp and refreshing this time of year to do that. Sophie followed us. She sat right down and talked up a storm. She told her Uncle (Uncle Silly, she calls him. He is an huge jokester) and me all the things she did, felt, and accomplished since spring. Her Uncle related that it is the longest conversation he ever had with her.
She calmly advised him that she likes to joke with him, and speak with us both. Why? Because we get (understand) her! With that, and no music playing in the freezing parking lot, the three of us danced sans audible tunes for half an hour.
We all express ourselves as we are inclined to do. Encouraging self-expression in the way most natural to a person opens up doors previously locked for them.
Dancing is Sophie's Choice. What is yours?