September 14, 2010

next generation

I can't believe that I went 33 years of my life without really knowing someone with Down syndrome.  It seems hard to imagine.  I graduated from a fairly large High School - my class was 450 students.  You mean to tell me there was no one my age or even a year or two on either side of me with Down syndrome?  Or perhaps they weren't included and were off in a separate space.  And maybe they were there and I just didn't notice.

I have only one memory of actually interacting with someone with Down syndrome.  I was maybe 9 or 10 and we went to this big party every year.  The kids would all be set loose upstairs while the parents were downstairs.  More often than not, we would start a huge game of hide-and-go-seek.  There was a girl there with Down syndrome who was close to my age.  We convinced her to stand really still like a statue and that would be a good hiding place.

I can remember wondering why she believed us and I couldn't really figure it out.  Now that I think back on it, I am embarrassed about my actions.  Sure, we included her and let her play our game.  But we treated her like the little sister you didn't really want tagging along but Mom made you play with.

Now when I see an individual with Down syndrome, I feel like I want to acknowledge them with a little "I'm part of the club too".  Of course I don't because that would just be odd.  I'm so proud of my buddy and feel honored to be his Mom.  I hope that the next generation of kids growing up will think nothing of having a friend with a special need and having kids of all different abilities a part of the classroom.

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