Monday, May 11, 2009

"Does your son have Down syndrome?"

This is the question I was asked earlier today while shopping at Goodwill for more costumes for the Oliver musical.

"Excuse me. Does your son have Down syndrome? He looks like it."

Well, I thought, this could go anywhere. What do you say? "Thanks?"

I just smiled and said, "Yes, he does."

She quickly explained that her nephew has Down syndrome and he's super cute and John Michael's eyes look like her nephew's eyes. He's four, she said, and is learning to sign at a special school. I didn't ask any questions, but she felt like sharing. She didn't hesitate to tell me that "they" (kids with Down syndrome) are all sweet and loving and quiet.

To that, I smiled again, and said, "He's not always quiet, but he's certainly loving and sweet."

She quickly replied, "Oh, I don't mean to say "they" as in grouping them all together, but it does seem that way. They are such beautiful children and I love your son's eyes."

In her own quirky way, she actually touched my heart. I know it was a slightly awkward moment. For me, it was her opening line that got me. Of course, John Michael "looks" like he has Down syndrome, but honestly, that's not what I see. So it took me off guard when someone actually said it out loud.

I see a sweet, loving, stubborn, cute, strong, quick, able toddler, who's making his way in this world one step, one milestone, one victory at a time. And, I'm so glad he's taking me along on his journey.
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  1. It is hard to hear those words the first few times. As time has moved on, I really love it. I love meeting all those other special families! Yes, JM has the most beautiful eyes!!! Love that photo of him so much!!!

  2. That's only happened to us once and it was when gabby was only a few months old. It actually made me so happy (it was weird)!

    Anyway, that was sweet of her to go out of her way to compliment John Michael.


  3. I wonder if she on her way home was kicking herself for "how" she said it....sounds like defiantly her heart was in a good place. At least we know she has great taste that she noticed how beautiful John Michael is!!! :)

  4. I am glad to have my boy too. Some people just have to cram both their feet in their mouth, without ever meaning to cause upset. Guess you have to laugh!...

  5. Yes, I too would have found this interaction sweet and again an opportunity to educate and help dispel the misconceptions...I actually love it too when people go out of their way to connect with our kids but do it with their heart in the right place. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Although Elijah is not born yet, I get those awkward conversations from people all the time. I always use it a a way to educate others. John Michael is precious!

  7. I choose not to be offended by questions like that, and instead let them know exactly how proud I am of my son. I love the "yes, he is" answer. Always with a big smile.

  8. So far, I remember being asked twice. And both times were by people who have a child with Down syndrome. And both times caught me off guard but I heard myself say "Yes, he has Down syndrome" with pride and a big smile on my face. It felt awkward and natural at the same time.
    Can't blame her for being drawn to John Michael's eyes though. They're beautiful!

  9. this made me laugh and flinch at the same time! Sometimes people can say the most ignorant things...but to find the true intent of their heart is more beautiful than the pain is painful.

  10. It's always strange the first time someone notices your child has Down syndrome. I remember for me I was at the playground trying to get Kayla to crawl through a tube. A little boy was waiting patiently and I apologized to his mom that Kayla was taking so long and added that she had Down syndrome. The mom just smiled and said she knew. And I said, "oh, I guess people can tell now." and the poor mom apologized and said it was just because she is a nurse who works at a group home. But I still remember that feeling.

  11. I just found your blog. My little guy is almost 14 months. I've only gotten the question a couple times, but it is sometimes a shock when it comes out. Other times, I have wished they would directly ask instead of staring, and/or beating around the bush.