What’s the first thing you say to parents that are about to give birth to a special child?
“Congratulations, you’re having a baby!”
I was a typical guy that partied all the time until my children came. Suddenly, I traded happy hours for happy meals. And with my youngest son having Down Syndrome, you can imagine how much more special lessons that has to teach me.
True, everyone I encountered in my professional and academic life were my teachers, but these kids (mine or anybody else’s) are the greatest because they can convert common words like patience, acceptance, contentment and inner peace into something more philosophical when you have to do it. They’re the biggest time machines that can transport us back to our own youthful innocence.
When my son EJ wants to play at the park, you sit there no matter what (Patience). When I see him play with complete strangers, you learn what it’s like to accept people for what they are (Acceptance). When I see him crying one minute over a broken toy then laughing wildly the next over a butterfly, you realize how little it truly takes to be happy (Contentment). He’s quick to forgive and easy to forget (Inner Peace). Here is a 3 year old boy who survived an open heart surgery at 4 months old, and he is courageously venturing into a world that doesn’t see him the way he does.
The problem, I realized, is not with his mental condition, it is with ours …
We, as parents, tend to think we are the repository of great wisdom yet if we look around how we messed up the planet, you wonder what kind of wisdom that is. So sometimes I feel that my kids are running an audition if they’d still keep me as their Dad.
But the sad part is that Down’s Syndrome children are becoming endangered; most are now aborted before they can be born. Worse, there are still societies that are unbelievably ill-informed to handle the social integration of these angelic children.
I look at them and realize that in my children’s eyes, I am their world … but in mine, they are.