One of my favorite “special needs mama”- bloggers spoke for my heart this week, follow the link to read the whole post and watch the video that started it all…
….I want our kids to be included and recognized, but not as charity cases. I want Leo to fit in because he does, not because someone feels sorry for him. But let’s be honest. Leo is never going to be the Cool Kid. At least not in that way. I don’t doubt that he will have friends and be well-liked. I’m not saying he’s going to be some kind of pariah just because he has Down syndrome. But he’s not going to be the effortlessly cool one, the one who always wears the right thing, says the right, dates the right person, drives the right car…but guess, what? Neither was I! I led a pathetic high school life on the edge of cool, friends with cool people but never an A-lister myself. I starved myself. I let people use me. I was the worst kind of not cool person: the one who cared that she wasn’t cool. I don’t wish this on anyone, especially my own kids. That’s part of why I dread the teen years, Down syndrome or not. Because I know from experience you don’t need that extra chromosome to not be cool.
Anyway, I am not being all that articulate here, partly because I am a bit all over the map on this subject (if you couldn’t tell). I think about how when Leo was born (as has been the experience of many other parents reading this), of all the well-meaning people who told me about the “always smiling young man (with Down syndrome, of course!) who works at McDonald’s greeting customers and bussing tables.” Those stories made me want to crawl into a hole and die. Could my son aim just a little higher? Please? But then sometimes I get mad at myself for thinking thoughts like this. Leo is a really friendly person. He also loves to help. Maybe he would love a job like that at McDonald’s? And who I am to say it isn’t good enough? (to be fair, he is only 4 ½ so it’s fair to say his “interests,” being “friendly” and “helpful” might change by the time he seeks gainful employment).
I guess what I’m trying to get at here is, I want Leo to be happy. I want Leo to feel included and recognized. I don’t want that inclusion to be fake, but it may have to be sometimes. But what I don’t want is for him to know that it’s fake. It’s almost like I’m saying I want him to be smart but I don’t want him to be too smart. And this puts us in, what my mother used to refer to as “a bit of a pickle.”