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Why You Don't Need to Look at Us With Pity

Tonight when I put Baby #4 to bed, he gave me a long hug. He doesn’t hug that much anymore. You see, he has faucets to find, dogs to bother, cabinets to clean out and laundry to scatter. He might play with toys if he feels like it, for sure if somebody plays with him, but he prefers the everyday sort of fun. As I held him by his crib, I realized that his baby-ness was almost gone. I began to reminisce back to last year when Baby #4 would cuddle more. I’d forgotten how I miss that and his little baby ways. I miss his bottle. At least he still has his diaper…

As with my others, I occasionally forget who I’m holding and caring for daily. My job can be somewhat monotonous, especially lately. With Baby #4’s slower development, he’s been baby-like for so long.

I guess I didn’t realize he was growing out of this stage.

Sometimes I just lovingly look at him, like mothers do when their children are being peaceful. With my others, I look for familial characteristics. I do that with Baby #4 too; he reminds me a lot of his birth mom, but I also like admiring his unique features. For example, he has cute spaces between his first and second toes, a little nose and tiny hands. I love how he looks.

Lately, I’ve been noticing others are starting to recognize his features of Down syndrome, too but not in an appreciative sort of way. If he’s shouting in a store, I often get looks of pity. There are the quick glances our way and uncomfortable stares.

I wish those who peer at Baby #4 could see past his appearance. After all, he is quite cute. His behavior, too, is similar to that of most other almost-2-year-olds. If any of these people would actually talk to him, they’d find that he’s pretty friendly. It’s likely that he may have been shouting because he hates shopping –he’s really just a typical kid; he’s not that much different.

I suppose I could nonchalantly follow these gawkers through the store, strike up a conversation and get Baby #4 to wave or something. One day, if I’m feeling brave, I may ask why he’s making them feel uneasy. I want to know if their obvious opinion of him is based only on his looks, his Down syndrome.

For now, though, I just walk away. I probably walk a little faster. I try to distract Baby #4. I give him something to hold. I’m not really sure how I’m supposed to handle situations such as these yet.

Maybe most people will someday see Baby #4’s potential or find him funny, like we do. They might even enjoy his company. I hope they become his friends.

If they never are lucky enough to spend time with him, however, I will still know who I was holding tonight. A little boy. Mr. Silly-Face. A fan of mealtime. He is out-going and sociable, smart and stubborn. A patient soul. A laugh replicator.

Even though I, too, see the many features of Down syndrome in my son, I notice more all the other things that make him who he is. I see a future. I see success.

I don’t see all this difference.

I see Baby #4.

I love what I see, but you don’t have to. Booyah.

Maybe I’ll say just that!

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This post originally appeared on Our Path Less Traveled.