Sunday, October 29, 2017

#31for21: Penny Becker - "My life is filled with caring, loving people and joyful happiness"

Introducing Penny Becker; the daughter of Amy Julia Becker and sister of William and Marilee. She is 11 years old at the time of this interview which is a wide-ranging one. AJ Becker notes that the syntax and thoughts are Penny's own - one of the ethical concerns of interviewing someone is getting their voice and choice right.

What I noticed immediately is that Penny enjoyed Little Women which Becker is reading to her and her sister Marilee. She thinks it is full of mystery.

Hannah Kim recommended on Twitter the Little Fox level 7 version of Little Women and I ended up listening and looking at chapter 11.

During #AutisticHistoryMonth too in November; oral history interviews are strongly encouraged. So are transcripts.

The version Kim uses is a strongly Christian and academic version. Indeed lots of homeschoolers and home educators have read Little Women.

I was exposed to that text in a very worldly way in January 1995 - due to the film being released with Winona Ryder as Jo and Kirsten Dunst as Amy.

And one of my first memories of Little Women as a generic text was when I was reading about charities which sell people's hair - mentioned some important literary personalities like Jo March and her long brown hair.

What are your favorite activities inside and out of school?
My favorite activity in school is a lot of things. My favorite activity outside of school is Ballet.
Can you tell me about your family?
My family is pretty cool except when they are all grumpy and mean. My mom Amy Julia, my dad Peter, my sister Marilee, my brother William. 
Can you tell me about your friends?
I have a lot of friends. I will name two. 1 of them is named Lynzee the other is named Aurora.How do you feel about having Down syndrome?
I feel cool with it actually and when i have it it is kind of hard sometimes. When I say I’m cool with it it’s because it’s easy. When I say it is hard sometimes because there are a lot of challenges you have to face. The first example of a challenge is putting a back brace on because I have scoliosis.
What are you reading right now? Can you tell me a little bit about them and why you like them?
I like Little Women because it has great mysteries and i think other people with down syndrome will like it.

What are some of your favorite foods, movies, and musicians?
My favorite food is cheeseburgers and pesto. My favorite movies are Beauty and the Beast, the new Annie, and Father of the Bride parts one and two. My favorite musicians are Taylor Swift and KidsBop.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
A fourth grade teacher because I can teach spelling and making up your own rules on group projects.
What do you believe about God?
I believe God is nice and caring because I can feel Him in my heart.
Do you have other challenges?
Everybody has challenges.
What are your favorite things about you?
That I can do gymnastics and I can watch shows or videos on the weekends. The way I am a sister that I like is that I’m nice, caring, and I wear beautiful clothes. I can do splits easily.

What do you do when you’re afraid?
I got over my fear of crutches because I have seen a lot of people on crutches. I prayed and I had some breathing exercises and that helped.

Is there anything you would want someone with a new baby with Down syndrome to know?
That Down syndrome is not scary but when the baby is first born it may be scary to the parents. Don’t be scared because your child’s life could be easier than expected. My life is filled with caring, loving people and joyful happiness.  
[Selected from Missing out on beautiful e book by Becker P. and Becker A. J. 2017] 

Penny's fear of medical equipment - crutches in particular - is very relatable. A cousin had a very similar fear of "death and old medical equipment" which lasted into her teenage years.

Exposure to the fear and the people around it is helpful - as well as breathing exercises and praying.

And I like what Penny said she liked about herself and what she does on her weekends. She values herself as a sister to William and Marilee and she can do splits easily - a rare talent that one. Though having had gymnast friends...

She would make a good fourth-grade teacher - especially in a religious school. Autonomy in group projects would be very important to the fourth-graders she knows.

Lynzee and Aurora and all her other friends - I hope you're reading this and understanding Penny better and getting a sense of how she understands and cares for you.

Often meanness and grumpiness result from one in the other.

And why should we expect life to be easy? Bernard Shaw had said - "Life was not meant to be easy, but it can often be delightful".

I enjoyed Father of the bride too when I was younger, at least the idea of it.

Cheeseburgers and pesto are a good mix for life. I wonder if Penny works on the pesto and makes the cheeseburgers? Does she enjoy pickles? The sauce? The buns?

The back stuff is indeed a challenge. It is the most common musco-skeletar among girls and young women.

And Beauty and the beast was indeed a great movie - really captured Belle's inventive personality this time.

Taylor Swift - was wondering if you enjoyed her new album, Penny? Is there a Swift tune which goes around in your head? The first one I heard was You belong with me. And there was one about a haunted house.

When I was a student I answered the friend question similarly - in that I said I had a lot of friends and mentioned two of my best friends.

And it is wonderful what Penny has said about God and how she feels Him in her heart. He is loving and caring.

There was a bit of a Chalet School moment. Many of the readers of that series will know that the heroine/protagonist, Joey Bettany, had two massive attacks of pleuro-pneunomia.

There is a 75-year-old woman of my acquaintance who has it. May she recover with speed in God's time and in His speed.

And as for truck-riding for seven-year-olds ... four and five point harnesses to the hardware store.

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