Of all the kids, Cristel has perhaps changed the most—physically, emotionally, and intellectually–since we started visiting the babies’ home. Cristel is a 4-year-old girl who was born without an eye or a rectum. In the past year or so, she’s had major surgeries to repair both of these things. She now likes to look in the mirror and point to her “pretty eye!”
Abi, the house mom, had a funny story to tell about Cristel and her fake eye. One time, Abi was cleaning the area around Cristel’s eye, and it popped out! Both Cristel and Abi freaked out and started to scream when the eye dropped to floor. In a panic, Abi called the doctor and asked what she should do. The very calm (and very amused) doctor told her she should clean out the eye socket while the eye was out and then pop the eye right back in.
From what I gathered from Abi, Cristel’s mom is still alive, but the medical bills were too much for her to handle. Therefore, she was placed in Buckner’s care.
This munchkin sure does know how to work the camera. As soon as she sees that you’re ready, she’ll smile and laugh and pose. It’s impossible not to fall in love with her.
Cristel is also extremely intelligent. In June, I was playing with her when an airplane flew overhead. She pointed to the sky and excitedly cried, “un avión!” Then she proceeded to jabber on and tell me all about how Juan Pablo was going to go away with John and Emily on an airplane. I was shocked! Her ability to understand and communicate Juan Pablo’s upcoming departure seemed to me way beyond the typical capabilities of a normal child her age.
Up until June, I would have considered Cristel to be one of the babies. She went to day care. She wasn’t allowed to go with us when we took the kids out of the home to Pizza Hut or the children’s museum. She couldn’t keep up with the “big kids.”
But even little babies have to grow up.
In June, when the nannies encouraged her to get in the van and come with us to the zoo, I nearly insisted that she stay home. I mistakenly assumed she was still too little. But Cristel has more energy and stamina than I think I’ve ever had. She not only bowled with the big kids and kept up with us at the zoo, but after each of those two outings she still had energy left to join the others in terrorizing the play place at lunchtime. Of course, that didn’t stop her from sleeping on Eleanor’s lap on the way home from the zoo. Even big kids need a nap every now and then!