Musings With Malcolm #8 – You’re a Great One, Mr. Grinch

It’s summer and I just saw the Grinch. No, not the television special or the movie with Jim Carrey, but a real Grinch doll that Malcolm used for the longest time to help him sleep.

And it brought back some memories of how much our house reveres the Grinch – lack of heart and all.

See, children with Down Syndrome have a high risk of being born with hypotonia – low muscle tone. Some people refer to them as being “floppy” and, consequently, many children with DS are extremely flexible. Hence Malcolm can stick his toes up his nose. In public most times.

It is easy to forget that low muscle tone not only expresses itself in appearance, but it really affects the ability to control the vocal cords, or the throat, or digestive system.

Many children with Down Syndrome also have sleep apnea. The need to remove the adenoids or the tonsils becomes necessary not because they become infected; it’s because their removal can open up airways.

Couple some apnea and low muscle tone together and you get a child who does not sleep very well. And when a child does not sleep well, then at least one of the parents (or both) does not sleep well. In our case, my wife, Laura, felt most of the brunt. She sleeps much lighter than I do.

Malcolm did ultimately have his adenoids and tonsils removed. With some physical therapy he got stronger. But he did not sleep through the night. He still does not on most nights.

So we were struggling with him waking up and trying to get him back to sleep without it becoming an elaborate production. It did not go well for a while until….

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas showed up in the form of a mechanical, yet musical, doll.

Meet the Grinch. A doll Malcolm was given for Christmas one year. And if you squeeze his hand he dances and plays music from the iconic Christmas special that shares his name.

“You’re a mean one Mr. Grinch.” And he dances, or rather moves from side to side with a mechanical grace that only double A batteries can create.

Malcolm loved playing with it. He would press the hand and activate the song and literally hug it to feel its deep rhythms. He didn’t care what the lyrics were. He didn’t care that it was green. He didn’t care what season it was. What he wanted was the Grinch to sing to him.

And it soothed him. Greatly.

Laura, who is as logical as a Vulcan and as observant as a hawk, put 2 and 2 together. Why don’t we let him sleep with it? And it worked.

Throughout the evenings it became quite  common to hear throughout the night the dulcet tunes of the Grinch playing from Malcolm’s room. A song describing the inhumanity of a green monster was a song of lullaby for Malcolm.

And it worked. Too well actually.

One day it didn’t function any more. He had literally loved it to death. Squeezed it to submission. We needed another one. Quick. We wanted to sleep.

So welcome to eBay. Bought whatever we could. And let me tell you – you can buy anything on eBay. And it seemed that there was not a rush on Grinches, so rarely was there anyone to bid against.

However, there was that time when my wife was in a bidding war with another Grinch lover over one of these musical angels that the price kept getting higher and higher. Ultimately, Laura did win. A few days later, we learned that she was in a bidding war against her own mother who was combing the ethereal aisles of eBay for her grandson.

Malcolm does not sleep with a Grinch any longer. He now prefers taking one of our iPhones and asking for one of his favorite songs to put him back to sleep. But the Grinch is still around. And it still works.

Actually, I would be willing to bet that there are still a dozen Grinches in this house.

You’re a great one, Mr. Grinch.