Friday, July 29, 2011
Once in a while, I am blessed to have someone tell me about an interaction they had with Jared. It's important for me to see Jared through the eyes of someone who is not his parent. So often, I get bogged down in the caring for Jared and forget that he is a young man with thoughts, hopes and dreams not unlike other teens. Recently, someone shared a story with me, an encounter they had at the camp where Jared works. Jared shared with this person how he once just sat around and watched a lot of TV, but now he feels healthy and fit and he likes the choices he is making! It's funny because lately, we have seen a Jared with purpose, with a light in his eyes. I hope that what we are noticing is what Jared is becoming, a happy man who believes that he matters in the world. That thinking will take Jared far, I think. It's important for us to give our kids the space they need to discover what makes them tick, what makes them get off the couch and embrace life. It seems that Jared is finding his place in the world, and that people are noticing.
Friday, July 22, 2011
There is a fragility one notices in new moms of kids with Down Syndrome. I can't quite describe it, but I will try. The eyes have a guarded thoughtfulness. Tears are quick to come. We are vulnerable when we have a baby with special needs. There is still a part of us that wants it not to be true, to all go away. However, these new moms turn a brave face to the world, a visage that says, "I have a child with Down Syndrome. I'm ok with it. Don't you dare say or do anything that demeans my child." New moms of children with special needs are fighters. We don't want pity. We just want acceptance for our children. Some are quiet about it, while others, the really brave ones, rally around the cause and plow the road that lies ahead of our children with an energy that wells up from deep within. I'll bet many of these moms didn't even know they had that, the fight, I mean. I had a conversation recently that started like this: If there was a magic wand, would you wave it about your child's head in order to whisk away the part that is Down Syndrome? "Yes, I would,"I said. Who wouldn't want the world to be easier and more welcoming for our children? Who wouldn't want to take away the stigmatism that comes with being different? I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't. But stay with me here. I'm ok with Jared having Down Syndrome now. I think I've been ok with if for a couple of years. It took a long time to get there, but once that acceptance came, with it came a rush of peace. I want to tell you new moms out there. That peace will come, sooner for some than others. And as far as waving that magic wand? Some days I still want to wave it, but there are many more days when that wand can stay in its velvet-lined box.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
With summer, comes camp.When I was a little girl, I attended Camp Cherith as a Pioneer girl. I learned how to canoe and swim, sing songs around the campfire, miss my parents, and pray. As a college student, I was a camp counselor and equestrian instructor at Camp Chateaugay, where I learned how to take care of girls who were homesick, kayak, start a fire, and flirt with the guy counselors (not much of a learning curve for that last one...) Those two summers were probably the best summers of my young life. There are those of us who cherish those "camp" summers along with smokey smells, bug spray and juice. Camp was a magical place, a world so far removed from everyday life, a world where nature became our "growing up" guide. I loved camp. Today, I had the privilege of dropping Jared off to the local YMCA day camp, not as a camper, but as a Couselor in Training! Makes you think of the "CIT" song from that Murray movie, Meatballs, doesn't it?..."We are the CITs so pity us...." Jared will fill his afternoons for the next couple of weeks acting as a helping counselor in a group that consists of a bunch of first graders, two of whom have special needs. If this works out, he will have an opportunity to work for two more weeks later in the summer. It is hard to explain how I felt as he and I walked down the dusty road to the main lodge. I remembered my dad dropping me of at a similar gravel path so many years ago- anticipation welling up inside as each step took me closer to camp's big meeting house. Was Jared thinking the same thoughts that traveled through my head that summer? "Will the campers like me? Will I know what to do if someone is sad or hurt? Will I make friends with the other counselors? Will I want to leave when it is all over?" I'm happy for Jared. I want this to work so that he too will know that spectacular feeling of being a part of something that has been around for so many years, summer camp.