I did it. I did the wrong thing. I limited my own son.
I was watching him do physical therapy this week, and the therapist held a toy that looked like it was miles away from him, and expected him to reach for it. She might as well have asked him to reach up and grab a star out of the sky.
“Good lord, he can’t reach that” I thought in my head as I watched and waited.
He stared at those two plastic linking chains like they were a boob, reached out his cute chubby hand, gave a little “oomph” and grabbed the thing like it was nothing.
“Wow!” I said, genuinely impressed.
The excitement that I had was immediately followed by guilt. Yeah moms, I said it again, guilt. Seems like guilt comes around every other day when you’re a mom, right?
I was so ashamed of myself! I could not believe that I even had that thought in my head! Who was I to say “he can’t do that”? I started a blog to tell the world that he can do anything! LIMITLESS IS IN THE NAME!
I realized in that moment that I need to work harder to show him and myself that he can live a perfectly fulfilling life. No matter the supports he needs, he can achieve anything he sets those adorable blue and brush-marked eyes on.
This whole experience has been full of learning, failing, and winning, losing, and a roller coaster of emotions. I was so shocked to find that my roller coaster had dropped back down to the limited thoughts I had when he was first born.
I also realized that if I am having thoughts like that, then other people will too. I wondered how I got this way to begin with. I never really learned about Down syndrome in school. It was something we had to ask about, or learn in passing from someone else. I knew a little from my mom’s job, but that was it. Some students in my school had Down syndrome, but they were in a contained room. Luckily, a lot has changed since then.
This is why I am so happy to be an educator, because I truly believe in the power of knowledge. Hopefully, me teaching my kiddos in school to accept all differences will make them better citizens of the world. Kinder, nicer, and more compassionate people can grow up right here in Nicholas’s neighborhood. Then they can pass the message of acceptance on to their children.
Maybe, they will grow up, see someone with Down syndrome somewhere in public, and think of their second grade teacher’s son whose picture was on the smart board. They can remember how cute he was, and how they begged me to show them videos of him giggling. That memory might cause them to smile and wave, or maybe strike up a conversation with that person.
We have a long road of learning and growing ahead of us here, people. My generation missed out on it, but if we work hard, we can make the next generation better than us. Maybe, 100 years from now, a mom will give birth to a baby and be un-phased by a Down syndrome diagnosis.
Here’s Nicholas flinging those rings around, having a blast, while sitting up on his own. My little achiever.