Nine years ago today, Goldie moved out of her respite home and into our family. At eleven, she was just about small enough that I could carry her on my hip (short distances only!). Once she realised cuddles were allowed, she clung on like a limpet as we got to know each other better.
After a perfect attendance record at school, she decided home life was good, and despite her profound disabilities developed the ability to fake illnesses. Time and time again I'd get a call to collect her, limp and sorrowful, from the classroom, only to have her bouncing off the walls as soon as we got home. She blew her cover one day by not even waiting until we were safely in the bus. Instead, she started singing as I pushed her down the corridor, running straight into the head teacher. We bought the class staff a thermometer after that; if it showed a fever I'd come and collect her, otherwise they'd tell her "nice try" and she'd have to sit it out.
She shot up those first few months, filled out, and lost her little Orphan Annie looks. Not that there was anything at all wrong with the care she was receiving where she had been living - it was just that capital H thing. There's a world of difference between A Home and home. She was finally home, and she seemed to know it straight away. Even during our introductions she would start shouting when the care staff turned up to take her back.
She wasn't the easiest child to live with, but she was definitely very easy to love. Her needs were relatively simple - her stories, her music, her structure and keep it coming. Once we her minions realised our place in her world then everything was wonderful. Try to pull Goldie out into the world the rest of us lived in and then you'd hit more problems. But she was always happy for people to enter hers.
Nine was Goldie's age in the first reports I read on her - she was eleven when she moved in.
And nine is Little Fish's nemesis - she can do four and six piece puzzles now, but the edgeless middle piece confuses her.