I wasn't frightened after that. I wasn't actually concerned or even worried. I guess you could say I was feeling like my defenses were gearing up. And then it happened again not long after. We were having a quick lunch, and this gal walks in with her adult daughter who had Ds. They were having a nice time together and I was very interested in watching the daughter help herself to the buffet. I don't think her mom even saw us. But she saw Nate. She saw him, and then did a double-take. It was subtle, but she recognized his features.
Now Nate is 2 years old. There is no mistaking his diagnosis.
And I have to be honest...
Sometimes, all I want to do is make a quick trip to the grocery.
Is that too much to ask?
I know that he's irresistible. I realize he's impossible to ignore. I understand that people want to touch him and make him laugh. I get it. I feel the same way too. But honestly. Can't a girl just get through the check out line just one time without there being a scene?
For example; not long ago, I went to Andrew's basketball game. Afterward, Nate and I waited in the gym until Andrew came out of the locker room. There was a group of about a dozen or so parents sitting in the bleachers. I let Nate crawl around on the gym floor, and he made a bee-line for the bleachers (stairs-his favorite). Before I knew what was happening, every single person was cheering Nate on, beckoning him to come closer, some with outstretched arms! while he giggled all the way. By the time he made it, some were even standing up! They couldn't get enough of him! They practically elbowed one another out of the way to get closer to him.
No one looked at him with pity.
Not one parent gave me that patronizing look as if to say, "he's so special..."
This is just one of many stories; a snapshot of my daily life with Nate.
The majority of my co-workers are women with young children. There has never been an uncomfortable moment between any of us as we discuss our families and kids. I bring Nate to most every event that my other children are involved in; I never get an awkward glance. My church has hundreds of people who attend each week, and Nate makes his rounds like a celebrity. More people know him than know me. We took a family trip to the Poconos last week, and we went skiing at two different mountains. Both had child care facilities. I learned that people out east don't care, either.
In fact, the child care workers at both resorts were disappointed when I showed up to get Nate.
We took the train from Jersey to New York City for the day. On the way back, Nate was in his stroller and the train was full of people leaving the city after a long work week. I was talking to Hannah next to me, and when I turned back toward Nate, I noticed he was gently patting the leg of a business woman. She did not react to him at all. I discreetly moved his stroller away from his reach of her. When we got off the train, I glanced in her direction and she gave me this huge grin and watched Nate as we went our separate ways.
People in New York City just don't care.
When we were flying home, we were in the Newark Airport. Nate was standing up on seats in the lobby, making friends with all kinds of people. One guy stopped walking right in front of Nate, exclaimed, "hey man!" put his hand up for a high-five, Nate gave him a high-five and the guy kept on walking. Just like that.
People in Jersey just don't care.
They really don't care if Nate has Ds. They don't care if he's 2 and doesn't walk yet. They just don't care. I've never seen strangers so engaged by a child ever in my life. Everywhere I go. If you are reading this and you're pregnant with a child diagnosed with Ds...you are in for a big surprise. PEOPLE DON'T CARE.
The greatest lie ever told about an unborn child is that a life with Ds is a life not worth living.
Over 90% of these lives are extinguished.
Don't believe the lie. Don't believe it.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
In reality, people just don't care (about Ds). However, you'll find that they will care very deeply for your child; in the most surprising and wonderful ways.
And if people around you don't treat you or your child the way I've described in this post, then you should move to Green Bay.
Or New York City.
Or, the Poconos.