Monday, May 17, 2010

Making Lasting Impressions

Our kids just kind of have that effect on people.  Without even trying.  They just get in there, grab the heart strings of strangers, and leave them to wonder how this little person could have made them feel the way they did in such a short time.  Maybe I'm romanticizing these interactions a bit, but I like to think this is how it works.  I have never, in the 4 years of Sammi's existence so far, ever, received a negative reaction from a stranger (or someone I know, for that matter) about her having Ds.  I have never received anything but the positive.  No stares of pity or disgust, no unwelcomed comments, nothing.  I'm sure open to the idea that those may come some day, and I'm sure I'll be left speechless, coming up with my witty retort minutes later, when the person has gone, and wishing I'd had the guts to think on my feet.  I feel fortunate to have had such support (silent or otherwise) from the general public so far, and to be honest, I don't really care what one ignoramus may think (although that's not to say it wouldn't hurt).

Our trip to England started out in the Virgin Atlantic departure lounge at Dulles Airport.  Sammi was in good spirits, but we were having a hard time keeping her occupied without multiple ventures out and about, walking the terminal.  One of the members of Virgin's gate crew, an attractive older woman in her pressed red VA uniform whose name escapes me now, zeroed in on Samantha and came over to talk to her.  She spent the next half an hour or so talking and reading to her, allowing us a little bit of time to get ourselves together in advance of our impending flight.  Samantha was enthralled by her, and the woman seemed to be just as entranced.  When it came time for her to go back to her post and prepare for boarding, she asked Samantha for a hug (willingly provided) and thanked us, in the most sincere and heartfelt way, for sharing Sammi with her.  It was a good feeling.

Two days later, while shopping at Marks & Spencer within the walls of ancient York, we wandered into the children's bedding section, where I was in search of a twin duvet cover for Sammi's room (now to find a lightweight twin quilt/duvet in the same dimensions...).  The only other people in that area were a woman, her young son, and her teenaged daughter in a wheelchair.  I realized, at about the same time that Steve nudged me, that the daughter had Down syndrome.  Okay, so it was one of those moments that people blog about again and again where they think of all the things they wanted to say after the fact.  Yep, this time, too.  The mother even stopped when she saw Samantha, leaned down to her in her stroller, and commented how beautiful she is and asked her age.  So, uh, why couldn't I speak, other than to respond to her query?  Why do we, as parents of children with disabilities, still have such a hard time facing others' disabilities?  Was it because the daughter was older and I wanted to know why she was in a wheelchair but was afraid to ask?  Was it because I didn't want to take up too much of her time?  What I really wanted to say to that mother was, "We both have exceptionally beautiful children."  Because we do.  I always view other children with Ds as exceptionally beautiful.  That extra chromosome is certainly an enhancement, especially in the creation of such purity and honesty, something that often lacks in people generally.


amy flege said...

i have had great experiences with strangers too. mayson seem to bring them to us in a store, etc. its amazing how many people say how lucky i am!!!

Amber said...

So true!
Yummy...I could eat her up with a spoon!
Back to the post...I totally get the not knowing what to say...and why is that. pondering that...
Thank you so much for sharing!

Lacey said...

I agree, they are enhanced, not missing something. And she is so beautiful how can anyone not stop and talk to her?!

RobMonroe said...

Isn't it amazing how much easier it is when someone goes just a little bit out of the way?

I don't know that you could have handled the shop situation differently. I am confident that you would have asked more in a different situation. Hard to have those type of conversations so far out of your norm (i.e. halfway around the globe!) in my head.

Guess what I am saying is please don't fret over it - you will have opportunities to ask many questions, and many more to answer them. :o)