During Down Syndrome Awareness Month, blogs and Facebook posts by parents of kids with Down syndrome are bountiful with praises of those with Down syndrome. We boast about the achievements and accomplishments of our children, we write about all that they teach us and how much they enrich our lives, and generally focus on the most positive aspects of our kids who sport that extra something special.
I was going to do the same thing.
I’ve been drafting a blog post in my head for about a week, titled either “All About Finn” or “What I Want You To Know About Finn” (I hadn’t settled on one or the other yet). In my head, I couldn’t get past making a list of all of his positive qualities. You know, to raise awareness. Of how great my kid with Down syndrome is!
I finally realized tonight when I was in the shower (which is when I do some of my very best thinking) that I couldn’t bring myself to just sit down and write the damn post. Wanna know why? Because it feels like I’m trying to sell Down syndrome to you. It feels like I’m trying to sell the world on the idea that, despite the fact that he has this condition, he’s a worthy human being, deserving of respect and kindness.
Here’s the thing: I don’t want to sell you on Finn, or on Down syndrome. Because it should just be a given that he’s a worthy human being, no matter what the state of his chromosomes may be. It should go without saying that he’s deserving of respect and kindness no matter what he’s able to achieve (or not). Because he’s a person. Just like you’re a person, and your kids are people.
In our house, in our family, Finn’s having Down syndrome is neither an extra special blessing nor a curse. It just is. To paraphrase and borrow the words of George Estreich, Down syndrome is just his way of being human. Down syndrome is always present in our house, but its influence ebbs and flows. We often don’t even think about it, and sometimes it’s the subject of a great deal of focus. Sometimes its even the subject of humor. Finn is a blessing because he’s Finn, because he’s our kid, because he’s human – not because of or in spite of his having Down syndrome.
Finn is smart and delayed; he’s happy and often crabby; he’s loving and sometimes annoying; he gives great hugs and throws terrible tantrums. He’s a joy and a challenge. He’s a kid. He’s a son, a brother, a friend, and a student. In other words, he’s a person. And that should need no selling.