Sunday, July 03, 2005

Friendly Fourth

This weekend we had the opportunity to get away and spend time with extended family. We all had so much fun. At no point during our stay did we ever feel uncomfortable.

We have always been very open about Little Peanut and her medical issues, never hiding anything. In fact when she was born we were faced with a big decision. When we call to tell people we had the baby, do we mention the DS or not? As a couple, we decided to be open and up front about Little Peanut. Whenever we told people about her we told them, Yes she was born with DS, but that it really didn' t mean much other then her possibly doing things a little slower. We have tried our best to educate our so called friends, however, it is to no avail.

But, when we went away, and were around new faces, faces who were not judgemental or pitiful, they were warm and accepting, curious about certain aspects, but respectful by at least asking outright, not whispering behind our backs. My children all had a grand time, just being themselves. All of us together, just being a family.

I think the hardest thing with our the circle of friends, is that we have been open about everything. We have tried to talk to them at different times, yet it comes down to they dont want to say the wrong thing, so they say nothing at all. At this point we are at in our relationships i am finding that parents of children with special needs are very unique in that we are out going and open and truly honest about life and its expreiances. Those who are not in our shoes do not understand how fragile life is. How important it is to enjoy the little things in life, not worrying so much about which store to buy clothes in or who has the newest car or biggest diamond or trendiest shoes. The things that are important are the smiles at the end of the day, the accomplishment of taking a first step and reaching towards mom or dad for help.

So this weekend was refreshing beacuse we were accepted for what we are, just another family who wants to spend time together and enjoy those little moments.


trisha said...

Man, I am so sorry about your so-called friends. maybe we should call them something else?

Lori said...

Hi! I just found your blog. Our son, Evan, is 17 yrs. old & has Down's. We have been through the whole spectrum as far as friends & family accepting or not accepting him. We learned early on that educating people about DS is key. There is so much misinformation,that often people just don't know what to think.
Most of our friends & family did pretty well once they knew a)more about Downs, b)more about how we felt about our son, and c)were around Evan enough to see him as a person & not a diagnosis.
I will say, however, that my parents were in denial for many years. In fact, when we were calling people to tell them he had DS, my mom was calling people to tell them he was fine. My parents have adjusted & are doing fine with him now. I think they were just so grief-stricken they didn't know what to do.
Anyway, keep educating. People tend to fear the unknown. Even if it comes in the form of a beautiful baby!

barbara curtis said...

I am so glad you are blogging! Thanks for sharing from the heart. I think that's something our kids really do -- is open up our hearts. And you will find as Little Peanut gets older that she will open up other people's hearts as well. In the small town near me, the high school homecoming queen was a girl with down syndrome who'd gone to school with the kids all their lives.

I felt that people waited for the cue from us on how to act. We were thrilled to have a son with Down syndrome and knew it would be a blessing, so when people said they were sorry or something, we just said no, don't be. we're really proud to have him. We taught his older siblings to be proud -- like you are proud of your ethnic heritage. they'd see someone with Down syndrome and get al excited --

These kids often have wonderful, endearing personalities. Not always, I have one by adoption who is shy and withdrawn - but people are always quick to fall in love with him too.

Try being as upbeat as you truly feel with your friends. If they can't rise to the occasion, maybe look for other friends. My teens always judge anyone they bring home by how they react to their brothers with Down syndrome (we adopted 3 after Jonny).

I will say, from experience, it was harder for my husband. Women seem to take it more in stride, but because men like things to be perfect, my husband thought his friends felt uncomfortable and withdrew their friendship. He found new ones, though :)

Sarahlynn said...

Good post. So true.