Oscar is my middle child. He's almost 8 and has Prader-Willi syndrome. Unlike all the awful literature predicted when he was a baby, he actually has a pretty good sense of humor.
One of my favorite ways of joking around with him is to have him repeat back the names of kids in his class so I can determine his latest crush. He's only 8, but we realized early on that he was forming these crushes. I can't use real names here, of course, but in kindergarten it was Dana. She was his reading partner, and every time he would say her name he smiled. When I caught on, I started inventing reasons to get him to use her name. Eventually, it got to the point where he couldn't say her name without giggling. And when Oscar giggles he loses muscle tone so he literally melts in a pool of laughter.
Yesterday we were at it again. He's a 2nd grader now so he's on to me. He puts on his poker face when he sees I'm starting the game. He's pretty good at keeping a straight face at first. I recite the names of a few kids from other classes first to throw him off. And then I go for it. Justine? No... Jenna? He's fighting back, we think there is a hint of a smile. Emma? No smile. Dana -- she's old news. Angie? My prime suspect -the smile is peeking out. Rosa? Here it comes. By now he's having trouble holding it together. Both corners of his mouth are curling up. We go back to Angie, and he completely loses it. He's fallen onto the bed giggling, saying "Darn it Darn it! Let me try again". But we're all laughing too hard now.
We knew it was Angie. She's gentle, funny, and patient even when Oscar is anxious, perseverating, or getting way too close and clutching his throat in an attempt to stop stuttering. Angie is actually one of several in his class that are true friends -- friends that really get him and look out for him. He knows that too. But this year, it's Angie he is smitten with. He honored her in class for being a good friend who likes to be silly with him. She told her mom that she "could almost have a crush on him." I teared up when I heard that. Oscar is a sweet kid; he's curious, earnest, kind and he admirably navigates the hefty list of challenges that come with Prader-Willi syndrome. I feel so lucky that we, and now others like Angie, found the boy in him that shines through, or around, his devastating diagnosis. I hope he feels lucky too.