I brush past Sterling, who’s mucking out a stall, headed toward the main office with some important paperwork.
“Hellooooo, Judy!” he calls. “I looove you!”
I keep on walking raising my hand up with the sign for “I love you” for him to see, and smile to myself.
Jerry’s always telling Sterling, “You don’t always have to say you love people, Sterling. It’s ok just to say hello.”
Oh yeah, we struggle with “appropriate behavior.” We discourage random hugs. We do the Circles curriculum so Ranchers can see who it’s ok to hug, and tell them you love them. Those people are in the inmost circle, in the purple circle. (Other circles have varying degrees of distance. When a Rancher is really ticked off at another, he’ll say, “OK, you’re not in my blue circle now. You’re in my yellow circle!”)
Problem is, our Ranchers with Down syndrome have really big purple circles, and they're really crowded.
Plus I’ve known Sterling since forever, met him as a three-month old, wrestled with him when he came to camp as a rowdy ten-year-old, have traveled with him on many a road trip. He’s my daughter Kelly’s best-friend-boyfriend-fiancé, a handsome dude with an impish smile.
Definitely in my purple circle.
So I claim love-you rights and hugging rights, any time, any day.
Here's wishing you a Happy Valentine's Day with the folks in your purple circle!