She was riding along with me in the car recently. I was dropping her off at home after we spent the afternoon together. I entertained her request to listen to the top 40 pop radio station. She was telling me about how much she liked Lady Gaga’s new song “Applause” but disapproved of Gaga’s risqué album cover. She described the cover in detail.
The track changed on the radio. Katy Perry’s song “Roar” began pulsing through the speakers. Admittedly I started humming along and singing soon replaced my quiet drones. She followed my lead and I turned up the volume. In a loud-and-proud fashion we sang with enthusiasm. The words were lost to her, however. She made an attempt to recite the lyrics in time and in tune, but the best she could do was catch the line, “'Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar” as it cycled through the song.
All day she is defined by her 21st chromosome. She is told she will do less because of the number 21. She is told she will want less because of the number 21. She is told she will be less because of the number 21. Yet out of all the lyrics she could have remembered she remembered the words that defined her as more and gave her a voice- a fierce, roaring voice.
She is a typical teenage girl though her abilities are different. She likes pink. She idolizes pop stars, whether good or bad. She wants to spend her evenings dressed up in sparkly gowns and makeup. She is hopeful her high school friendships will last forever. She rebels in her own way and keeps secrets from her mom.
In those ways and many more she is like any other 16 year old junior, but the world isn’t comfortable seeing her as average, ordinary, or typical. They tack “special” onto her needs and onto her education because special is easier for them to say than normal. And although she is a special individual, it has nothing to do with her abilities. Rather, it has everything to do with the readiness to champion her own life even when there are few others that stand to help her.