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By Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado   

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A story about a little girl, as told by her big sister.

My little sister's name is S'olange Michelle.  She is eight years old.  Meanwhile, my name is Sirena; I am twelve.   We live in Grand Chenier, Louisiana, smack in the heart of Cajun Country.  And yes, we ARE Cajun.

My sister was born with Down syndrome.  She was born with an extra chromosome; that nasty little extra chromosome has caused her to have mental retardation (even though she is eight, S'olange seems much younger, more like the age of four or five), heart problems that have resulted in several open heart surgeries, and accompanying physical characteristics (slanted eyes, smaller than normal ears, short, stubby fingers and toes, and sparse, baby-fine hair that is hard to control or manage).

Still despite all her problems, S'olange is a very loving little girl with a gentle, sweet personality.  Nothing really makes her mad or seems to ruffle her feathers (unless of course it is another surgery or hospital stay).  She loves anyone she meets and immediately welcomes them into her world by way of a hard, bone-crushing bear hug.  

Because of her heart issues, S'olange can't do a lot of strenuous activity, but for her that's fine.  She's content doing things like drawing or coloring pictues, painting, learning her letters or numbers, looking at picture books, playing with me (and her baby brother, Toulouse, who's two), and listening to Cajun music.  She also loves anything to do with princessses and the colors pink, magenta, purple, and aqua or teal.  

Because of S'olange, our family has learned to be tolerant of people who happen to be disabled.  We have learned to be patient with her and have tried to be there for her whenever she is facing a medical difficulty or yet another surgery/hospital stay.  It isn't easy by a long shot, but we want to show S'olange that we love her and that we care deeply for her, no matter what she may be going through.

Well, it's about time to put S'olange to bed for the night.  I like to help Mama with her evening medicines and breathing treatments and sing her a Cajun lullaby that I learned when I was a little girl even younger than my sister.  I hope you enjoyed my writing about S'olange; she's the best little sister I could have ever hoped to ask for!  I just love S'olange so much!!

~Sirena Marie Thibodeaux, aged 12.  :)

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