Last week Huffington Post ran a story on “how I told my 7-year-old he has Down syndrome.” I admit I saw that headline and thought, Huh. He doesn’t already know? See, we’ve always made Down syndrome an ordinary part of the fabric of life in this house, like bad eyes or an aptitude for music–it simply is. You don’t waste time analyzing good and bad or trying to shield the kids from the knowledge–you just weave it into ordinary life, and there it is.
Last night at dinner, it came up in the context of Christmas shopping. Alex had wanted to get Julianna a jewelry/bead-making kit for Christmas, and Christian told him, truthfully, that he and I had wanted to do it, too, and chose not to. The problem is, she’s not quite ready for it yet. We want her to be, but she just isn’t. It’s a great idea, but she doesn’t have the interest in and skill to do those sorts of things yet.
But “If she didn’t have Down syndrome, that would be…” was as far as he got. Because at the words “Down syndrome,” Julianna lit up. “Oh! Dow see-dwuh?” she cried.
Christian smiled at her. “Who has Down syndrome?”
“ME! YAY!” shouted Julianna, putting both fists in the air and pumping them repeatedly.
It’s one of those stereotypes that lives on because it so often turns out to be true: people with Down syndrome tend to have really, really high self-esteem.
(Disclaimer: she did think we were talking about ‘Down syndrome group,’ which is what we call the bimonthly social hour we do with other T21 families in the area. But it’s a great story anyway.)