The Day a Stranger Recognized My Son Has Down Syndrome
It was like any other Costco trip before, except this time I only had two of my six children with me (this is rare). We were perusing the aisles before heading for my 11-year-old’s favorite part, the samples. As we wheeled past the cheese and crackers we paused and she caught my eye. Everyone always comments on my little one’s hair; I must say Cedar has some awesome locks. This was not unusual, but once the woman commented on his hair and made a bit of small talk about how old he was, she paused. She just kept looking at him and I knew something was coming. Her hand lingered on his bare little foot just lighting on his big toe.
This, I might add, is one of those defining moments. I have had them before, and I have failed. Like the time I missed a connection because I just didn’t want to talk about Down Syndrome. I have wondered, sometimes, if a stranger will catch me on a bad day and they’ll say something rude, or just ignorant. Another blogger, Erin, at the Lucky Wells, wrote an entire post about just this thing and I read it shaking my head all too knowingly that the day would come.
The funny thing is, sometimes I don’t see Down Syndrome. I mean at certain angles in photos I see the textbook physical traits that my Cedar possesses, but overall, he’s just my sweet little babe and though I know it is a part of him, it isn’t the main thing I think about or see anymore. As a new mom of a child with Down syndrome, I sometimes wonder if people see it yet when they comment on his hair or something about him.
Time stood still for just a moment and when it did, I breathed and decided this could turn out to be an educational moment. But then she smiled and asked if we had chatted before. I didn’t remember ever seeing this woman before in my life so I smiled back and said I didn’t think so. She went on to tell me that she had a grandbaby just about the same age as my Cedar. Then she said, “My grandbaby is a twin, and one twin has Down Syndrome.” I was no longer tense, the ease that washed over me was likened to a wave leaving me, feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. I quickly blurted out, “My son has Down syndrome, too!” She smiled again and told me he was beautiful, it melted my heart.
So it happened, the physical traits that allow others to see that he indeed has something a little bit extra were visible to a complete stranger, but it led to the sweetest exchange. I love that this is the first experience I have had in public by a total stranger acknowledging my son’s extra chromosome. It was such a positive exchange and the woman’s eyes lit up when talking of her granddaughter. It was very special to make a connection like that.
I went home that day feeling excited, feeling like I no longer had to worry about the first time someone in public acknowledged my son has Down syndrome, because it had already happened and it was perfect. No ignorant comments this day, no grace-filled smile as I explained what Down syndrome is. Nope, just a sweet exchange between two women who both love someone with a little something extra.
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